By Lisa Capobianco
From municipal parking lots to signage to traffic, town officials and local business owners addressed a variety of issues while walking through downtown Plantsville last week.
Hosted by the Southington Chamber of Commerce, the walk-through is an annual activity that provides business owners and town officials an opportunity to discuss ideas for revitalizing downtown Plantsville.
Economic Development Coordinator Lou Perillo and Town Manager Garry Brumback said the first step of the Plantsville Renaissance involves providing more municipal parking for visitors. Every year the town has applied for grants to achieve this goal. Currently, there are four municipal parking lots available, including lots at Dean’s Stove & Spa, Clock Tower Square, and Vintage from the Heart.
“We’re applying for a Connecticut Main Street grant,” said Perillo, adding that the first step of the Plantsville Renaissance will be the municipal parking lot. “Every year we keep applying for grants…and we haven’t been too successful yet, but we keep trying.”
For Dena Colter, a local resident who works at Dean’s Stove & Spa, the Plantsville Renaissance means creating a stronger community through local businesses working together. Colter is the chair of the Plantsville Renaissance Association, a volunteer-led organization created by people dedicated to enhancing the image, physical environment, economic stability and revitalization of Plantsville. After hearing about the Association, which currently formed, about 15 to 20 businesses expressed interest in joining.
“We’re hoping we can link Southington and Plantsville,” said Colter, adding that the Association has and will continue to conduct community fundraisers. “We just want to better Plantsville for the businesses [and] for the community.”
A private, non-profit business organization that offers support and assistance to local businesses, the association has a vision to foster cooperation and to encourage an exchange of ideas between local businesses. The association also aims to establish a good relationship between the town and local businesses. Colter said one of downtown Plantsville’s biggest challenges is signage, noting how visitors who pass through the village may not be aware of the municipal parking lots available to them.
“I think it’s not knowing what we have down here,” said Colter.
Sean Michanczyk, the owner of Paris in Plantsville, has collaborated with Colter in the association. Michanczyk said parking has been an issue for people who attend the different art classes his business provides or other events like the recent “Paint n’ Taste,” which has brought visitors from other towns. He added that visitors have also strugged with parking on the street.
“It’s harder for elderly students,” said Michanczyk, adding how he has seen visitors arrive late for a class because they struggled to find a parking spot. “More signage might help.”
During the walk-through, town officials noted the issue of traffic and safety, especially along the Rails to Trails. Al Monbaron, of Baron Realty Group, LLC, said he has discussed the safety issue of pedestrians crossing the Rails to Trails while there is ongoing traffic with the police department, looking into different options.
Southington Police Officer Tom Gallo said with summer approaching, pedestrians can expect to see more appearances by police.
“We’ll be out on the bikes in this area on the trail doing patrols,” said Gallo.
During the walk-through, town officials and members of the association also discussed ideas to bring more people from the Rails to trails to visit businesses in downtown Plantsville. Colter and Michanczyk said a post and beam pavilion, located in front of Dean’s Stove & Spa, is scheduled to be completed some time in June. The pavilion, which will have an outside kitchen, will serve as an area to host community events.
“It will be appealing,” said Michanczyk. “We already have water hooked up.”
Colter said she hopes the pavilion will bring more people into the village, especially during the annual Christmas and Halloween events that take place there.
“We have a diamond in the rough here,” said Colter, adding that business members of the Association have planned to host different community fundraisers in the pavilion, including a cook-off.
For more information about joining the association, contact Dena Colter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Capobianco