Jason Williams and Megan Raymond along West Haven Shoreline Restoration Project co-chairwoman Marilyn Wilkes at an Aug. 10, 2022, meeting.

West Haven seeks feedback on four shoreline restoration concepts

Jason Williams Principal Landscape Architect - Urban Design
Jason Williams

Jason is a Lead Landscape Architect and Urban Designer who provides visioning at project initiation, works to engage the public, and reimagines new spaces, from city blocks to small courtyards. His collection of work spans from regional and community master planning and conceptual site design to detailed construction plans. His projects include downtown revitalisation plans, coastal resilience and riverine restoration, multimodal/transit-oriented development plans, corporate campuses, educational facilities, parks, and linear greenways.

Megan Raymond Principal Environmental Scientist
Megan Raymond

As a Lead Environmental Scientist, Megan has a strong multidisciplinary background with respect to both inland and coastal environments. She specializes in natural resources with specific expertise in wetland delineation, assessment, and functions; vegetation management, invasive species control, biological inventories, water quality monitoring, watershed planning, vernal pool surveys, inland wetland and tidal wetland mitigation, and peer review services. She most values the variety of her work, in which her day to day includes everything from field work and client interaction to report writing and presentations. 

Original article posted and created by New Haven Register. You can view the article here.

City officials are looking to add native plants to the shoreline along Old Grove Park. To select which ones, they are calling on city residents for their feedback.

In July, the West Haven Shoreline Restoration Project committee first met with consultants from SLR International Corp. to do site analysis and create a design for a coastal resiliency plan for a 1.5-acre stretch of the city's shoreline. After collaborating and collecting feedback for several months, SLR has released four visualisations of design concepts for the Old Grove Park shoreline that incorporate vegetation, walkways and areas for respite and observation.

The committee's work has been funded by money that was budgeted for, but not spent, on programmes that didn't happen during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee has also received $200,000 in state bonding for its restoration efforts. Officials with the committee expect to finish their partnership with SLR with a design concept that can be submitted in grant applications to fund the full project.

"This is a jumping-off point to get people started thinking about the possibilities of what it can look like," said committee co-chairwoman Marilyn Wilkes.

She said the current phase is inviting more specific feedback from the public prior to the development of a final design concept.

"They might like the pathways but want seating in one area and not another," she said.

The committee has posted a survey link on the project's website where residents are invited to share their observations of all four design concepts, to share both the things they like and dislike.

Wilkes said that in the first phase the committee collected 625 survey responses, a figure that SLR consultants said was significantly higher than what they would have expected from previous municipal projects.

The plan to create a resiliency and eco-restoration project was inspired several years ago when the city unexpectedly lost vegetation after removing storm-damaged trees, which allowed invasive, non-native species beneath the roots of those trees to germinate. The initiative is looking to replace non-native species with native perennials — Wilkes said ideally the native species would reflect all four seasons, so there is always something growing or flowering along the shoreline. For instance, proposed trees are eastern red cedar, red maple, and tupelo.

The four design concepts proposed to the public all propose the addition of a beach mat that provides accessibility to the beach for people with mobility disabilities, although Wilkes said the committee would consider feedback about the placement of that mat. Various proposals also posit different types of dunes, decking, fencing and various amounts of shade.

"We also have to figure out the best materials for the walkways and the fencing and the seating. Those are all components that need to be determined as well. We want longevity, to stand the test of time,” Wilkes said.

Wilkes said it is also important to the committee that there be educational elements, so the committee will look to develop signage to describe the various elements of the shoreline's vegetation.

"The elements are interchangeable," Wilkes said. "It's helpful to have these images to spark people's imagination."

"We also have to figure out the best materials for the walkways and the fencing and the seating. Those 

are all components that need to be determined as well. We want longevity, to stand the test of time,” Wilkes said. 

Wilkes said it is also important to the committee that there be educational elements, so the committee will look to develop signage to describe the various elements of the shoreline's vegetation.

"The elements are interchangeable," Wilkes said. "It's helpful to have these images to spark people's imagination."

Four visualizations prepared by SLR of concepts for an eco-resilient shoreline restoration along West Haven's Old Grove Park.
Four visualizations prepared by SLR of concepts for an eco-resilient shoreline restoration along West Haven's Old Grove Park.

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