posted on: 5/10/2016

The City of Dover’s Downtown Pedestrian and Vehicular Access and Streetscape Plan has been named a recipient of the 2016 Plan of the Year by the New Hampshire Planners Association. The organization made the presentation on Friday, May 6, 2016, at an annual conference in Concord.

"I am very honored to have Dover receive this award,” said Assistant City Manager Christopher Parker. “The community has long been on the forefront of planning activities in the state, and I am proud that this project has been recognized for its high quality, and vision. Along with the great Master Plan work in Durham, the Seacoast is providing leadership in the region and state on sensible and attainable plans that are easily understood by the public.”  

City of Dover earns top award for downtown plan

posted on: 5/10/2016

The City of Dover’s Downtown Pedestrian and Vehicular Access and Streetscape Plan has been named a recipient of the 2016 Plan of the Year by the New Hampshire Planners Association. The organization made the presentation on Friday, May 6, 2016, at an annual conference in Concord.

"I am very honored to have Dover receive this award,” said Assistant City Manager Christopher Parker. “The community has long been on the forefront of planning activities in the state, and I am proud that this project has been recognized for its high quality, and vision. Along with the great Master Plan work in Durham, the Seacoast is providing leadership in the region and state on sensible and attainable plans that are easily understood by the public.”

Durham’s Master Plan was also recognized at the conference.

The NH Planner’s Association (NHPA) award annually recognizes professional plans from New Hampshire for their advancement to the science and art of planning and commitment to community involvement through planning initiatives. The New Hampshire Planners Association promotes, assists, and supports professional planners in the state with the goal of achieving planning excellence to improve the quality of life today and tomorrow in New Hampshire’s communities. The Plan of the Year is a reflection of that ideal, and is sought annually through nominations.

The NHPA selection committee recognized the plan was not only innovative, but also showcased the City’s commitment to public outreach. Specifically noted were the various video components, which guided viewers through the proposed changes to the Central Avenue area downtown.

The plan acknowledges that although the downtown transportation network is long established in Dover, circulating the Cochecho Millworks, improvements can be made. In particular, the project seeks to encourage pedestrian access.

“No matter how you reach downtown – train, bus, car, bike or foot, once you are here, you travel by foot, or at least you should easily be able to,” Parker said.

It was also noted that while not every downtown has Dover’s layout and design, the plan is transferable to other communities. This is achievable through public input and implementing traffic calming suggestions, such as reducing lane width and re-striping crosswalks to improve traffic flow.

"Having this plan recognized for its professionalism and the fact that it was focused on the community by our New Hampshire peers is a reflection on the professionalism and commitment the planning volunteers and staff deliver to the Dover community day in and day out," Parker said.

The plan, drafted in 2014 and 2015, was completed by the Cecil Group, an urban design consultant from Boston. The Transportation Advisory Commission oversaw the project with planning, engineering and police staff providing assistance. The goal of the project was to improve mobility and efficiency of traffic flow in the downtown. Additionally, the group worked to propose streetscape improvements, such as unified street trees and street lighting.

As a result of the research and analysis, the final plan proposes to relocate the island at the upper square, between Chapel Street and Broadway, from the center of Central Avenue to the easterly side of Central Avenue, in front of the Days Inn. This will create a new public gathering space to compliment Henry Law Park. At the same time, improvements are made along Central Avenue, Washington Street, Main Street and Chestnut Street to improve crosswalk viability and reduce speeds.

Since the Transportation Advisory Commission approved the plan in 2015, staff have placed the project in the outer years of the City’s Capital Improvements Program (CIP). The project was approved for design in 2021, as part of the 2015 approval of the CIP. In January of 2016, the Dover City Council cited improved access in the downtown area as a goal during the 2016-2017 term.

The New Hampshire Planner’s Association has recognized Dover’s planning efforts three times before. In 2010, the City’s Form Based Code project for downtown Dover, was recognized as the Project of the Year, and in 2011, Director of Planning and Community Development Christopher Parker was recognized as the Professional Planner of the Year, and in 2014 City Planner Steve Bird was recognized as the Professional Planner of the Year.

For more information about the project, you can visit its web page here. On the page, you can view the video, alternatives reviewed and feedback received. Parker can be contacted at c.parker@dover.nh.gov.

For more information, contact the City of Dover Department of Planning and Community Development at 516-6008.