FAIR HAVEN: ICE CREAM, YES, TOURISTS, NO

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Yes, there’s a mention of a bar in the concept plan for what a made-over Fair Haven business district might look like.

But that’s as racy as it gets. Borough residents are emphatic that they’re “very wary of attracting non-residents to Fair Haven through any tourist-oriented events,” according to a newly released Project for Public Spaces report, available on he borough website.

The 39-page report, paid for with $40,000 in grant money, summarizes PPS’s research into what the town wants to be, and make recommendations for getting there. It has ideas from both planners and townspeople who attended several “visioning” meetings this year to discuss the borough’s future.

“It’s pretty ambitious,” admits Mayor Mike Halfacre, “but there are a lot of good ideas in it.”

What happens next, the mayor says, depends upon how much buy-in the town can get from retailers and citizens to implement its various recommendations.

Some suggestions that may prove controversial, the mayor says, are to implement mixed-use development in the downtown so that housing could be placed above stores, and to run a bike path down River Road. Retailers are concerned with losing parking to a bike lane, he notes.

The borough council needs to review the report and choose what aspects to pursue, based on input from retailers and residents, he adds.

The report includes a summary from a June 23rd town meeting at which residents brainstormed what they’d like to see in Fair Haven. At the top of the list for new retail, which residents though was lacking in general, was an ice cream parlor.

A pharmacy and a bar were also mentioned.

The town only has two liquor licenses, Halfacre says, and space is tight for any new retail. “There are no vacancies, but if there was, the Acme shopping center would be ideal for an ice cream parlor,” he says.

For the waterfront, residents expressed a desire for more access to the river and street vendors. Also mentioned: a museum, outdoor concerts — in a gazebo or on a portable stage — theatre and a farmers’ market.

The town has already taken steps to attract a farmers’ market to the fire station area, Halfacre says, adding that a weekday market may be preferable to a weekend market in terms of attracting vendors.

The mayor hopes to gain cooperation from the Acme shopping center tenants, he says, as well as other business owners, to have shared parking in the back and to create “plazas” with greenery and benches in the front of some stores along West River Road, to change the feel of the downtown and make it more pedestrian-friendly, as suggested by the report.

“We’d like a visual narrowing of West River Road — which is a county road — with striping,” he says. “We have some grant money to do that, and now we just need the county’s permission.”

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