About 100 people came to an the open house-style community meeting Saturday to offer opinions about how Elmwood Village should evolve over the next decade, including how to use the Bryant Street campus that currently is home to Women & Children’s Hospital.
People who wrote ideas on Post-It notes near maps of the different sections of the neighborhood said they wanted more parking, green space and play space. Some suggestions, like using rooftops as gardens, intrigued Carly Battin, executive director of the Elmwood Village Association.
“In terms of the likelihood of those things happening – I have no idea,” she said, “but there were some creative ideas out there.”
The open house, with morning and afternoon sessions held in St. John’s Grace Episcopal Church on Colonial Circle, was done with the help of consultants and volunteers and was part of the planning process to find a new use for the hospital area.
Barbara Billings, who would like it to become a residential space, described herself as one of many who are retiring to the city.
“I’m pleased to be involved,” she said standing by an aerial photo of her neighborhood and pointing to St. Georges Square where she lives.
She had moved to Florida after raising children here. But she returned partly because of the allure of the Elmwood district and its pedestrian nature: “That I, as a septuagenarian, can walk anywhere that I like.”
Christine Krolewicz, an assistant project manager with the Richardson Olmsted Complex, said she was pleased by all the interest in the hotel plans for the old psychiatric hospital.
After reviewing Post-Its from the morning, she appreciated the joke someone made about the H.H. Richardson hospital and towers as too scary.
“It’s definitely our goal to make it less scary,” she said.
Breaking news Saturday that a judge sided with a developer working to build a hotel at Elmwood and Forest avenues was also part of the conversation. Someone left a photocopy of an illustration of the proposed new hotel as a complaint about its boxy looks.
“I think everyone things the design could use some work,” Krolewicz said.
By the end of this month, a report that draws on public input – from the open house and social media, among other sources – will be ready. It will offer a potential direction for the district along with specific goals and objectives, said Battin.
Eventually, she said, the village association wants to “come up with a more comprehensive vision of what the residents want the community to be.”