In the first update on Harrison's work-in-progress Master Plan since June, representatives from BFJ Planning told the Harrison Town Board their focus this summer continues to be on outlines for the town's Platinum Mile and downtown business district.
Updates on most chapters of the town's first Master Plan update since 1988 are nearing the draft stage, while plans for two specific areas—Harrison's downtown business district and Platinum Mile—will be the focus in the weeks to come, said BFJ Planning Associate Susan Favate.
Since BFJ already completed a draft of the Master Plan in 2007, most chapters of the plan needed only updates to reflect things like population changes, economic issues and transportation issues like the possible construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge, Favate said.
Early proposals for the Platinum Mile, specifically, have raised eyebrows because they could include some retail and housing. Historically, the town's stretch of commercial property between Interstate 287, Interstate 684 and the Hutchinson River Parkway has been home to office parks and large commercial properties.
After first proposing the idea of small retail and either senior or young professional housing in the area in June, Frank Fish, principal of BFJ Planning, said he still supports the idea.
Positives of such a movement include creating a busier, more dynamic range of properties that could draw businesses to offices that have become more and more vacant in recent years. But there are concerns, including overcrowding of the schools and added traffic.
During a meeting with about 10 residents in June, Fish said the idea of a senior assisted living facility within the Platinum Mile received some positive feedback. Condos and other less regulated housing, however, were met with resistance.
"We limited our recommendation right now to allow housing for active adults, 55 and older, assisted care housing, continuing care communities, by special permit," Fish said.
The mixed use would allow limited sized retail stores and restaurants that would need approval from the Town Board. Early proposals would limit such stores to a maximum size of 15,000 square feet.
The board has voiced little public opposition to the idea of altering the zoning plan for the Platinum Mile. Councilman Fred Sciliano said he would even like to hear more about non-senior housing in some areas. The councilman said housing for young professionals could also be beneficial to the town because it would either keep young people from moving out of the area or draw in young people who might later buy property in Harrison or White Plains.
Favate discussed some early ideas for the town's downtown business district. She said local committees have suggested starting with parking and aesthetic issues before ultimately repaving the district.
Parking solutions included designated merchant parking and the protection of off-street parking as the area develops. In the short term, she said more clear marking of designated parking areas and a re-working of some one-way streets could help clear up the area down the line.
Upgrades for the downtown would come in three phases, Favate said, starting with streetscape work on Halstead Ave. from Macy Road to Broadway. The second phase would be the intersection of Harrison and Halstead Ave.
"Once you've got those two phases you've really got your core downtown," said Favate.
The third and final phase would include the rest of Halstead Ave. to West St.
The BFJ representatives said they intend to return to the town board in September with a detailed look at drafts of the project. They said they hope to collect more feedback from town officials and residents before completing a draft on the downtown and Platinum Mile chapters of the plan, which would be presented in another public hearing some time in October.
Earlier this year the Harrison Town Board on the Master Plan. Earlier this year the town board announced their hopes to update the plan by this November.