After a year of planning, the design for Lovettsville’s town square is complete and ready to take shape.
The Town Council voted unanimously May 10 to accept the Town Square Master Plan, which lays out the plans for a community park in the center of town and a three-phase program to build the surrounding commercial development and streetscape.
The town square park design includes the existing Veteran’s Memorial, a water feature at the northernmost corner of the square, a raised performance stage at the northeastern edge along Berlin Turnpike, small gathering areas with benches and bike racks along the park’s edges, signage used to display upcoming events, and a metal perimeter fence that is less than three feet tall.
Mayor Bob Zoldos said the main feature of the park would be its central lawn, which provides open space to accommodate the town’s many events.
As for the surrounding development, phase one is already constructed.That phase included the building of the clock tower and two adjoining buildings totaling 17,500 square feet of retail space, which is now home to Velocity Wings and six other businesses.
Phase two of the plan includes designs for commercial development on the parcel of land between Town Center Drive and Hammond Drive. It proposes the building of three retail buildings—one across Town Center Drive from the clock tower, one across Town Center Drive from the town square and one at the corner of Hammond Drive and Berlin Turnpike.
The building’s locations have been designed like this to maintain a “strong streetscape frontage” and to signify to visitors that they are “entering a downtown, pedestrian-friendly environment,” according to the plan. Tree-lined public parking with entrance points from Town Center Drive and Hammond Drive is also in the plans.
“It’s a neat blend of sort of the old and the new,” Zoldos said. “I think people will like the look.”
Phase two also calls for the multi-use path that currently ends at Hammond Drive to extend through the park to the existing bike shelter at the corner of Broad Way and Berlin Turnpike. It also calls for the elimination of the free right turn from Town Center Drive onto southbound Berlin Turnpike, in an effort to slow traffic.
Phase three includes plans for a retail building at the corner of Berlin Turnpike and Oktoberfest Way, along with tree-lined parking that has two entrances along South Church Street. This phase also suggests that South Church Street be widened and lays out plans for possible overflow public parking next to Andy’s Pizza & Subs.
Moreover, the plan includes suggestions to improve pedestrian safety, promote traffic calming and add parking spaces. To reduce the need for periodic repainting, it proposes that the town consider installing crosswalks with a colored material, such as stained asphalt, concrete or brick. It also proposes the elimination of the existing free right turn from Broad Way onto northbound Berlin Turnpike and suggests that the town plant trees along Berlin Turnpike, create narrower street lanes and install more stop signs to calm traffic.
It also suggests that the town change traffic patterns by adding a truck route on the eastern edge and creating two-way traffic along all four sides of the park, which could allow for sections of road to be temporarily closed for events. Zoning Administrator Josh Bateman said these plans for modified traffic patterns could be supported with the results of a town-wide transportation study, which will be conducted by an independent firm this summer.
The plan also details a design that could add public parking between Broad Way and Pennsylvania Avenue and in the field southeast of the town office.
NV Retail, the owner of the land within phase two, will now use the plan as a guide once it decides to build. Zoldos said the plan could even help the company streamline its efforts. To construct the building within phase three, NV Retail will need to acquire the right-of-way from VDOT.
Work on the town square master plan began in early 2017, when the town contracted with Arnett Muldrow & Associates and Mahan Rykiel Associates to create the design. In June, the firms presented multiple concepts to the Town Council, which then referred them to the Planning Commission for study in August.
In November, the commission sent out a public opinion survey to solicit resident input on preferred concept plans. The more than 200 responses showed that a majority of residents preferred a park with minimal amenities and no drive-through establishments.
“This finally concludes a long planning process,” Bateman said. “I think this is a great plan for the future of the town center.”