By CLARKE CASTELLE
To the Editor:
I was surprised to learn recently (reading Erica Drzewiecki’s article in the New Britain Herald of Sept. 2) that the town manager of Newington, in his capacity as “public safety director,” has informed the Town Council that “a sidewalk is no longer an option,” - this in reference to Dakota Partners’ and DOT’s plans to build a sidewalk from the future Cedar Pointe residential project on Cedar Street to a point near Starbucks on Fenn Road. His decision, which appears to have caught Town Councilors and Town Plan and Zoning Commissioners by surprise, was made in spite of the fact that the TP & Z has insisted on the construction of a sidewalk, as have residents at public hearings - all concerned for the safety of pedestrians.
And Judge Mottolese has ordered Dakota Partners to make its best effort to do so.
The town manager’s judgment that the planned walkway would not provide adequate safety to pedestrians, who are now confronted with the worst safety conditions imaginable, is not, in my opinion, a reason to give up and allow Dakota Partners to keep the $ 260,000 they have committed to the sidewalk.
I hope that you and others can convince the TP & Z to take action immediately and, among other things not waive the requirement that Dakota Partners contribute funding to the sidewalk, and require that Dakota Partners issue a bond or letter of credit (or something equivalent) for the $ 260,000 that they have agreed to contribute.
Furthermore, I believe that all interested parties, including the town, should go back to the drawing boards and come up with a plan that satisfies the safety concerns of the town manager. And please let’s not forget CCSU, and the longstanding wish of both parties to have greater connectivity (walkability) between the campus and Newington Town Center. To these ends, I urge the town manager to meet with the DOT, not just to work out plans for a better sidewalk, but to ask that the project be included in their latest capital improvement program. And finally, don’t forget to ask Gary Turco and the rest of the town’s legislative delegation to appeal to the governor’s office for support, since the cost of the sidewalk will certainly exceed $ 260,000.
I do not believe that we can allow safety concerns about a sidewalk that is yet to be built to block this project entirely, override existing safety concerns that are even more apparent, and cause us to throw away this long-awaited opportunity to achieve so many goals at once.