Editorial: We need more potty talk

We just simply have to have restrooms on the rail-trail, council chair Mike Riccio argued at Monday’s Town Council meeting. It isn’t in the current budget, but the council swiftly passed the plans for bathroom facilities on the Goat Island parcel and at the Milldale Train Depot. There’s no money for it now, but the plans are good for the next five years.

“We’re inviting people from outside our community to come and walk on our trails, come see our downtowns, and go pee in the woods,” said Riccio. “It’s ridiculous.”

We think that Southington’s government is ridiculous, whirling half-truths like snake oil salesmen as they promote their latest project, spouting long range benefits like propaganda with no follow-up discussion to see if their great promises came true. And they seem to change the stories to fit whatever plan they’re currently backing.

We love the rail-trail. It’s hard not to with the throngs of locals that visit every day, but let’s slow down for a second. We haven’t even finished the park, but we’re already adding things to the plan. We’re not against building bathrooms if they’re needed, but we’ve been hearing for years that the rail-trail was going to bring visitors flocking into neighboring businesses. It was going to be a great boon. Now, we’re hearing that nobody from the rail trails visit businesses—except to use the bathrooms. Which one is it? Is it helping businesses or sending profits down the drain (pun intended)?

When officials at Diversified Realty Advisors presented their plan for Greenway Commons (at the Ideal Forging site) they talked about how the traffic will allow a hole bunch of “food-related stores entering the complex” as retailers and food stores service the business that will swarm them off the rail trail.

An architect’s rendering of a proposed retail village to be built alongside Southington’s rail-trail. (Courtesy of AE Design Group, 2016)

When architects unveiled plans for Cranberry Cove, they did the same thing. Architects rendered a retail center just off the rail-trail with crowds of pedestrians almost blotting out the buildings in their drawings. (Run a search for Cranberry Cove at www.SouthingtonObserver.com. We’re not joking.)

It was one the greatest selling point for both projects.

Now, we hear that this isn’t what really happens? Why aren’t we talking about this? Is this just another solution for a problem that we never thought we had. It’s dizzying. The bathroom plan is good enough, but we want more discussion before we approve any more plans around the rail-trail.

In fact, the proposed Goat Island bathroom would be a half mile from the Cranberry Cove retail outlet where pedestrians from the rail trail are supposedly going to be shopping in hordes but not welcome to use bathrooms. It’s also a 10 minute walk from Smokin’ with Chris and the array of restaurants in Plantsville center. If these visitors from out of town aren’t even supporting our local businesses, why should we treat them to luxury bathrooms? Porta-potties should work. Let’s face it. Nobody’s flocking to the Southington rail-trail except locals. If locals want bathrooms, fine, but that’s not what Riccio said when he sold his latest project.

Now that Plainville’s rail-trail is in construction, that leaves only two breaks in the trail that stretches from New Haven to Northampton, Mass.—the north end and south end of the Southington section. It’s almost like we purposely put up a wall in the trail to keep out-of-towners out of town.

If we want bathrooms for Southington residents, fine, but don’t keep telling us that stuff on the rail trail is for out-of-town visitors. If so, then it’s a terrible decision.

We want more potty talk before we greenlight a new project. Oops. Too late. It already passed.

Leave a Reply