By SHERIDAN ROY
There was plenty to discuss as town officials strolled through downtown Plantsville last week, as the safety improvement renovations and related construction gear up.
Town manager Mark Sciota advised businesses the construction could be less-than-ideal at the time, but will be well worth it in the end.
“There will be issues when we do construction, but I guarantee the product will be much better than what we currently have,” he said. “Unfortunately we cannot do it all at once—it has to be done in three stages, so I appreciate your patience as we go through this.”
Over the past two weeks, the Southington Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual downtown walk-throughs, joining with town staff and local business owners to tour the centers of Southington and Plantsville. Both tours pointed out new businesses, possibilities for vacant shops, areas of improvement, and amenities to-come.
The Plantsville event was timely since work is already underway for the long awaited renovation plan. The water department has already began working on restructuring the outdated water lines. Next, Yankee Gas, then Eversource, will do their work. Town of Southington staff will come through after that.
“This project has been a long time coming, but it has not been forgotten,” said Sciota. “Now that we have the funding, we are moving forward.”
New brick patterns and pavers are planned for the sidewalks. Along the sidewalks, lampposts will illuminate the path, and will have a different theme than the green and gold lampposts of downtown Southington. Benches will follow suit.
The curbs besides the sidewalks will be higher than what is currently there.
“The purpose is to keep folks from parking on sidewalks,” said Sciota, pointing to the storefronts along the busy, curved intersection in the center of the downtown. “The grant we received is for a safety improvement project, and parking on the sidewalks is dangerous.”
Assistant town engineer James Grappone said changes will be made to the intersection itself. A new traffic signal plan has been submitted. New traffic signals featuring highlighted borders will hang above.
A stationary traffic signal pole in the ground will be placed in front of the gravel lot next to Hop Haus on West Main Street to alert drivers that the road curves. In the past few years, a number of drivers unfamiliar with the area have driven off the road and straight into the Hop Haus building.
In addition, crosswalks will be updated to include the latest, Americans with Disabilities Act-approved technology. Crosswalks will remain in the same place but will be repainted.
The small municipal parking lot across from Dean’s Stove and Spa will be repaired. Additional municipal parking will be added next to the Hop Haus.
Officials from Dean’s Stove & Spa, which is celebrating 40 years in Plantsville, joined the walk-through, and said they look forward to renovations. Across from Dean’s, the residential lot they own is currently being repaired to match Dean’s green roof and black borders. Sean Michanczyk of Dean’s said the front of the building will soon be home to a retailer.
“That front edition will either be split or left as one unit,” said Michanczyk. “We hope to attract a bakery or a coffee shop—something that will drive people into this area.”
Jon Bristol, also from Dean’s, said the company hopes to be a leader in how things should look during the renovations project.
The downtown Southington walk-through June 14 was quieter than the Plantsville tour as things are mostly “business as usual.”
Economic development director Lou Perillo said downtown shopping is seeing a revitalization.
“There is a new vitalizing with new business owners and there’s a great energy right now,” he said. “The mall scene is experiencing a fall out while local retailers are seeing a boost.”
He said with every loss of two businesses, four new ones pop up. The influx and change, he said, is beneficial. Consumer needs and desires are seeing a change from on-the-go to more sit-down, experiential scenes.
Sales and marketing manager of Florian Properties Christian Dietz said a chocolate factory and a retro arcade bar will soon join Escapism and Witchdoctor Brewery.