By SHERIDAN CYR
The Village of Plantsville can finally see “the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Town Council chair Chris Palmieri. After almost eight years, the town ‘s downtown Plantsville project is finally moving forward. On July 10, the town received a state grant of about $2.5 million for renovations of the downtown area.
The engineering department is currently in negotiations with Weston and Sampson Engineers, Inc. for the final design. Design completion is anticipated for this winter, with bidding for the project in the spring of 2019 and construction beginning early summer 2019.
“Back about two months ago, we heard rumblings that good things were coming,” said Town Manager Mark Sciota. “We were very excited to receive the grant approval.”
The Village of Plantsville consists of mixed use, predominantly industrial and central business zones located along the route 10 corridor. It is similar in character to downtown Southington in that it maintains the character and scale of a small New England town while incorporating a concentration of retail development, as explained in the official project outline.
“We have very preliminary plans from between 2010 and 2011. The public works committee will sit down and work with those plans and make a recommendation to the council,” Sciota said. There will be opportunities for the public to speak on the plans and address concerns in various upcoming public hearings.
At each step of the planning process, the town will need approval from the state. Public input from residents and local business owners in that area will follow each approval.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” said Sciota.
The only portion of the original application to the Capital Region Council of Governments policy board did not approve were “bump-outs” that were to be added to the two bridge overlooks over the stream of water running through downtown Plantsville. The bump-outs were to be oval-shaped and provide walkers with a nice view of the stream.
“This is a safety project that we applied for at the state level,” Sciota explained. “They decided not to include those in their approval because the purpose was not safety-related. It was more for beautification.”
Improvements included in the proposal include milling and overlay of West Main Street from the intersection of Summer Street to Grove Street, approximately 1,050 lineal feet, and S. Main Street from the W. Main Street intersection for approximately 900 feet.
The enhancement project also includes granite curbing, brick pavers, decorative lighting, benches, landscaping and other streetscape components. The existing route 10 traffic signal will be modified, and striping and sign improvements are also being proposed.
There is presently on-street parking along W. Main Street, which creates congestion and safety issues. Constructing curbing along the road will eliminate the street-parking. At the July 23 council meeting, Town Councilor Mike Riccio expressed concern that businesses will suffer from the elimination of street parking. A separate project, however, is being planned which would create a new off-road municipal parking area.
Sciota said that he will be putting a ballpark estimation of approximately $300,000 in his capital improvements budget to construct a municipal parking lot that will be behind 28 W. Main St. (shared by Hop Haus and SoulSpace Yoga & Wellness). The lot will exit on to route 10.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.