OBERLANDER: Next Steps for the Railroad Avenue Redevelopment Plans

Letter to the editor from Jill Oberlander, Democratic Candidate for First Selectman  

One of the challenges a public servant faces is to know when to proceed with a project and when to pause. The decision to hit the pause button on the proposed Railroad Avenue redevelopment plan is the right thing for Greenwich. It provides town leaders and residents with an overdue opportunity to weigh in on the short and long-term implications of this plan and how this development can transform the gateway to our wonderful community.

This discussion must come from the bottom-up, rather than the top-down approach that has caused concern and confusion so far.

In the spirit of open democracy and transparent government, Greenwich can now have an honest and frank discussion about the benefits and challenges of this undertaking, which is exactly how it should work. Closed-door deals with developers and special interests are no way to win the trust of those you serve, and under my leadership, this won’t happen.

I am calling for a committee of engaged residents to help advance the discussions alongside representatives from the RTM, BET, and Planning & Zoning Department.

As First Selectman, I will organize this committee under my office, calling upon the expertise of the Department of Public Works, Parks & Recreation, and Parking Services. I will also call upon the BET to provide funding so that we can bring in the expert advice needed to build the best plan possible – not just for business, but also for our town’s infrastructure and quality of life.

The vision for Railroad Avenue and the train station must integrate with the Town’s vision for downtown Greenwich. It is a critical link in Greenwich’s Cultural Corridor, which runs from the revitalized Greenwich Library, down along the Avenue, past the Greenwich Arts Council and art galleries to the New Bruce. We can improve and extend the Avenue’s cultural corridor to the waterfront, creating more access to its distinctive sightlines and enhancing its natural beauty with outdoor sculptures and benches for reflection.

The right leadership in town hall can improve our community while bringing in the right form of public-private partnerships. We’ve proven that this model works – one only has to look at the Pinetum Monoliths as an example. As First Selectman, I will begin work on day one, calling upon our friends and neighbors to help along the way. And that, ultimately, is how we move Greenwich forward.