Pushing Toward a New Renaissance

With several key businesses in the downtown Plantsville area, the Southington Chamber of Commerce, business leaders and town officials are moving toward the start of a new renaissance project.

Standing by the front entrance to in downtown Plantsville on Wednesday afternoon, owner Frank Palmieri simply pointed out the window toward a street light along West Main Street. There was only a slight wind, but as a tractor-trailer passed by, the light pole began swaying back and forth.

On the other side of the road, a car came to a near complete stop and pulled to the right to avoid brushing against the passing truck that drove along the center line to avoid cars parked in front of the commercial section near his store.

“Do I support efforts to make improvements down here? Absolutely I do,” Palmieri said. “It’s not something that’s needed; it’s something that’s long overdue.”

Downtown Plantsville could see a transformation in the near future as part of new renaissance project that business owners and commercial leaders in the community are pushing to get underway in the next couple years. The project is part of an economic development effort designed to bring more foot traffic to Southington’s downtown commercial areas and help expand business development.

Art Secondo, president of the , and the town’s coordinator Louis Perillo III said the efforts in Plantsville could be done in phases with certain sections targeted in order to receive grants and complete the project with little cost to taxpayers, but huge benefits.

“These projects have worked in several communities, but the best example is right in downtown Southington,” Perillo said. “When you look at what town actually invested, the income from that area developed has far exceeded the costs. It has expanded job opportunities and gotten praise from several surrounding communities.”

After three and a half years of waiting, along with a change in leadership when Garry Brumback took over for John Weichsel after his retirement in January 2011, Secondo said it’s time to begin focusing on the project again.

Secondo, who also spoke before the Town Council on Jan. 23, is asking for a phasing in of the project with the first portion to include a section of West Main Street spanning from the to , the Plantsville Firehouse. 

The entire portion would cost about $1.4 million to complete, but could be reduced to under $1 million by putting the initial emphasis on brickwork and sidewalks, repairing lighting and getting additional parking that would help eliminate the on-street parking that has made the Route 10 intersection a hazard for both pedestrians and motorists.

“There has considerable development there and owners in the area have put a lot of money into their businesses, but there isn’t enough parking,” Secondo said. “It’s something that needs to be addressed and addressed soon.”

Business owners said this week that they are certainly in favor of the project, especially if it will expand parking in the area.

Palmieri, whose business thrives on repairing computer towers and other heavy electronics, said he’s talked to customers who decided not to go to his business after they couldn’t find a nearby parking spot. He said they refused to walk “a quarter mile or more” carrying heavy equipment.

Up the road at , owner Mark Zommer said finding parking on a Friday or Saturday night is nearly impossible.

“I’ve had customers who come regularly have to park at the Plantsville Congregational Church up the street just to come for dinner,” Zommer said. “If we had a public parking area, we could see a definite increase in business.”

The renaissance project could also prove beneficial to places like and , both which are looking to see more cultural opportunities develop in the area. But Sean Michanczyk, owner of Paris in Plantsville, said his biggest reason for supporting the project at this time is for improved safety in the area.

“It really is dangerous down here. I’ve seen tractor-trailers come by and take off rear view mirrors on at least a dozen occasions in the last year,” he said. “We hear from clients all the time that they’d be more willing to come this way and support the arts if there was a better place to park.”

Brumback said he is certainly interested in moving forward, and is already exploring outside funding options to help finance the efforts. Grant money is available on a state ad federal level, he said, and could allow the first phase of the project to begin in the not too distant future.

The first issue that needs to be addressed is the parking situation – something the town has considered a problem there for years – and that other aspects of the project could be developed after that.

It will still be some time before the project is ready to move forward, however, and is not likely to be included in this year’s budget.

“We’re at a point where it’s time to go back to Weston and Sampson, the architects involved in the downtown Southington portion, and ask begin breaking down the project into phases,” Brumback said. “After we break it into chunks, we will be able to be aggressive in seeking grants. In these tough economic times, we need to be diligent but make sure we are doing this right.”

Bridget February 03, 2012 at 02:09 PM
So much for the little town of Plantsville!!!
Bridget February 03, 2012 at 02:12 PM
"It really is dangerous down here. I’ve seen tractor-trailers come by and take off rear view mirrors on at least a dozen occasions in the last year,” he said. “We hear from clients all the time that they’d be more willing to come this way and support the arts if there was a better place to park.” I agree that it is a tight squeeze in Plantsville & the parking is not the greatest, but if there wasn't so many new businesses coming in to that section then this wouldn't really be a problem. I love Plantsville & just hate to see it growing and growing... but then again our whole state is growing, everyday... *sigh* Although I know plenty of empty spaces in Southington that could use lots more businesses so why don't new businesses go there instead of ruining a nice small town like Plantsville. I remember walking on the sidewalks of Plantsville when I was a kid with my Mom and Sister...had our picture taken there way back in the 70's...nice memory.
Sue M February 03, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Nice pic. Love how everyone parks on the sidewalk down there. What a bottleneck! I would never attempt to park on that street. I wonder why no one bothers to park in the huge municipal lot next to Dunkin Donuts? That computer guy, isn't he the one who trashed the last three locations he was in? So sad that part of town has so many undesirables loitering around to the point you don't feel comfortable going to the legitimate businesses.
suddington February 05, 2012 at 02:38 AM
I agree that some things need to be done but there is the right way and the wrong way to do it. I don't see why people can't walk a few minutes to their location. The lot next to the green is less than a 5min walk from all of downtown plantsville. Making parking closer would involve demolishing buildings and this reducing the urban core which ruins the atmosphere. The computer guy chose the wrong location and probably should be in a strip mall. You should plan your business needs and choose a suitable location that fits those needs. I wouldn't get rid of on street parking but maybe restrict it to one side of the road. Maybe a new path can be developed for trucks and restriction of traffic in the area and business owners delegating parking to their employees so as not to tale customer spots.


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