By SHERIDAN CYR
The Southington Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Southington joined together for the annual Plantsville walk-through last week on a sunny Friday morning, engaging local business owners and picking their brains to find out what is working well and what could use improvement.
Chamber executive director Taylor Crofton focused on building lines of communication between businesses and the town, along with ways to maintain them. Some recurring concerns, such as parking issues and sidewalk repair, were heard.
“Today, we will be listening to their concerns and getting feedback from them,” said Crofton. “We tend to get a lot of really helpful feedback from these walk-throughs, but then we don’t see communication after. We want to let them know we heard them.”
Crofton was joined by Town Councilors Dawn Miceli and William Dziedzic, Town Manager Mark Sciota, economic development director Lou Perillo, town engineer Annette Turnquist, along with a number of local employees and property owners.
The annual gathering served as an opportunity to discuss opportunities, challenges—and even neighbor disputes—while welcoming new businesses to the area. Engineers discussed the ongoing Renaissance plans, ongoing troubles with funding, and town plans to address parking issues.
They also took the opportunity to discuss safety issues at the busy intersection where Hop Haus is recovering well after three different cars recently collided with the side of their building. The property, owned by Cheryl Moran, is still being repaired from the last incident.
Turnquist said seven barrels have been ordered that will be placed along the edge of the property to hopefully alert drivers that there is a building there. The intersection just before Hop Haus is tricky, especially for night-time drivers who are unfamiliar with the area. The road makes a slight curve to the right, but if the driver does not follow that curve, they will drive directly into the building.
Other than that issue, Hop Haus executive chef Jakub Gorgon was excited to share many new initiatives including new menus, social media, and a new backdoor patio.
The group also spoke to longtime business owner James Potrepka of Plantsville Pharmacy about ongoing problems with the sidewalk in the downtown area.
Crofton said that crumbling sidewalks have been an ongoing complaint from Plantsville business owners. Miceli said that sidewalk issues are the responsibility of the business owner to repair, however the town will reimburse 40 percent of the cost.
The group also discussed recent business closures in the village, such as Nam Kitchen’s recent closure after being in business for just two years. Lulu Belles also went out of business in recent months. Crofton said the owner had complained that her building and signs were not visible from the road, and that attributed to the closure.
“I think sometimes people don’t think anything can be done,” said Miceli. “I wish she had reached out to us, because we likely could have helped in that situation.”
The Chamber and Town will participate in a walk-through of downtown Southington on Friday, June 15.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by JANELLE MORELLI