Chestertown Futures: What If Something Amazing Happened on Morgnec Road?


While the Town of Chestertown and Washington College have been rightly focused on the future of the Chester River waterfront, which includes plans to enhance the downtown experience, add more residents, and improve its retail sector, there is another part of town that might provide another excellent opportunity for improvement; the use of the land along Morgnec Road, between Upper High Street and Washington Avenue.

Morgnec Road may not instinctively be seen as another critical part of Chestertown’s long-range plans, but it should be. The axis that runs approximately one mile is currently shared by the College and a few commercial buildings, is not only an ideal gateway into town, particularly with its rail-to-trail access, but shows excellent promise for affordable living within a sustainable, mixed-use community.

This might sound ambitious, particularly given the number of private parties that have interests along Morgnec, but that hasn’t stopped other communities from forming creative alliances to maximize land use and preserve local quality of life.

One reason we know comes with our familiarity with the consulting work of PLACE, a Minneapolis-based firm that has been providing assistance to the Easton Economic Development Corporation and their long-term plans (think twenty years or more) to create an integrated strategy to unite Easton’s downtown along Port Street with its waterfront on the Tred Avon River.

PLACE is a nonprofit project that assists towns like Easton to design and build vibrant places for people to live and work. Their projects across the United States have created extraordinarily successful models for this across the income spectrum, using efficient environmental design, and the empowerment of the community to participate in every aspect of the development process.

Through these experiences, the PLACE team has developed some significant opinions about the future of community development not only about the make up those projects but the financing of them.  They’ve worked with Native American tribes and colleges, art centers and community gardeners, all in search with models that allow residents to live and work in the same place.

The Spy sat down with PLACE co-founders Chris Velasco and Elizabeth Bowling to talk about what they’ve learned about big projects in small communities. Both Chris and Elizabeth share their collective experience about what works and how new strategies are being deployed to create a more holistic structure for housing and employment.

While their comments can only be seen as broad and generalized, with no significant knowledge of Chestertown, we felt our readers would appreciate the optimism they bring to the concept of 21st Century living even in small towns like ours.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. For more information about PLACE  and their projects please go here



About Dave Wheelan

Letters to Editor

  1. Ellen Parker says

    Please update this area. I love Chestertown and the nature. But we need help.
    We moved here a few years ago to work into retirement.
    Would love to see some improvements.

  2. The town north of 800 High almost seems like an unplanned patchwork quilt. The area has 3 c-stores. The Flatland communities need access to its town park by way of a sidewalk on the outbound side. What you propose here would start to provide ward 3 with a sense of completeness.


  1. […] just like the last time the Spy asked PLACE for insights on new thinking for town planning, Chris and Elizabeth not only […]

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