Breaking News: Draft Dartmouth Common Master Plan released for further public input

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DARTMOUTH – Early last October, I attended the public consultation meeting for Dartmouth Common Master Plan proposals.  Yesterday, HRM released the consolidated plans that took into account the community consultation feedback they received at that meeting.  Now the planners at CBCL Limited have provided one more window for public feedback on the updated plan [ PDF ] where they are accepting emails and phone calls with community members’ comments and criticisms until November 29th.

To give a little background, the Dartmouth Common Master Plan is Dartmouth’s version of HRMbyDesign.  The plans are not limited to preserving green space, but include relocating and expanding the Metro Transit Bridge Terminal, renovating and extending the Sportsplex, potentially creating an “urban edge”—mixed use commercial-residential buildings along the corner of Nantucket and Wyse—and in the long term, reclaiming the waterfront as a connected part of the Common. In short, the plan looks to completely transform the entire area and will govern much of Dartmouth’s future development for at least the next 25 years.

Of the four potential plans presented at the October meeting, the fourth proposal was chosen which includes designating development space for the “urban edge” building, a stormwater wetland corner in the Sportsplex parking lot, bike lanes (although nowhere does it say these will be separated from traffic), using the former museum/city hall building as an “outdoor orientation pavilion,” building an outdoor gym site and using the southeast/northwest bus station orientation that would go right below the informal playing field of Dartmouth High School.

Existing Dartmouth Common Layout

Existing Dartmouth Common Layout

Proposed Dartmouth Common Layout

Proposed Dartmouth Common Layout with "Urban Edge" Building

Following up from the original goals of the 1989 Dartmouth Common Enhancement Plan, the new plans also propose connecting the central Dartmouth Common (pictured above) with what would become Bridgehead Park along the waterfront.  To do this, along with several other of the ideas presented, the plan calls for HRM to create an “active land acquisition program” where the city would buy the waterfront land, currently owned by CN Rail, as well as the McDonalds property on Nantucket and the Scotia Bank property at the corner of Wyse and Nantucket.

Many of the longer term plans depend on these land acquisitions, since the Scotia Bank building is right where the “urban edge” building would go, and the waterfront property is, well, one of the city’s crucial connection to the water and where waterfront trails and other recreational activities would be built.  Yet these ambitious property grabs also raise the question of why similar moves can’t be taken to buy new land for building the new Bridge Terminal rather than having to destroy the last remaining urban forest section of the Common?

Despite these lingering questions, the new draft is exciting to say the least and deserves far greater investigation than this short post.  Check out the entire plan online at the Dartmouth Common Master Plan website and provide feedback by November 29 to make sure your voice is heard in the planning process.