NEWINGTON – Elected officials dispelled rumors about coming development and roadway changes after concerned citizens came to them this week.
Several people addressed the Newington Town Council during its regular meeting Tuesday night, with flyers implying that unwanted projects would happen if they did not act soon.
“The flyers I see everyone holding in their hands are not town-sanctioned flyers,” Mayor Beth DelBuono told attendees. “This Council was elected last November and has not considered anything with realignment, the rotary, Old Farms or Maple Hill.”
She and fellow councilors had the opportunity to comment on concerns after public participation, adhering to the meeting agenda as dictated by the Town Charter.
Dr. Stuart Calle, who has been distributing these flyers and information packets to drivers around Newington over the last month, was the first to address the Council.
“This crowd here tonight is concerned about many things and they’d like to know what’s happening,” said Calle, who lives and operates a medical practice in town and owns a vacant parcel of land along Fenn Road.
The land is adjacent to where the state once proposed building a roundabout to address safety issues, at the road’s intersection with Holly Drive and Ella Grasso Boulevard.
Calle opposed this project back in 2019 and the State Department of Transportation did not end up moving forward with plans at the time.
According to his flyers, the roundabout could still be a possibility, as could a new train station and the realignment of Maple Hill Avenue and several other streets along the Rt. 175 corridor.
“I live at 414 Maple Hill Avenue,” Patrick Flaherty told elected officials. “Between that and 418 Maple Hill Avenue, I’ve been here 88 years and counting. I think it’s apparent that the concern of the folks here tonight is that these changes can go down without your approval. If they can be assured that you’re going to decide yes or no on the project I think that will calm down a lot of the excitement.”
The DOT presented its Greater Hartford Mobility Study to town officials at their last meeting, highlighting ideas that the town might consider as part of a regional transportation effort. However, nothing was agreed upon or finalized at that time.
“The restructuring of the Maple Hill intersection has been discussed for years,” the mayor said, adding that the town is not working on any specific plans at the current time. “If there was a restructuring that was truly being developed and considered by this council, which there is nothing at this point,” she added, “the residents in this area would be notified. There would be public hearings and dialogue to be had.”
Deputy Mayor Gail Budrejko thanked members of the public for showing up to the meeting.
“Even if there’s nothing concrete happening, these ideas are floating around,” she said. “I applaud you for coming out and continuing to come out. These ideas have been talked about for years; the fact that they are still being talked about means to me they’re not dead.”
Town Manager Keith Chapman addressed concerns later on Tuesday night during his opportunity to speak toward the end of the meeting.
“We’re anticipating doing a citizen survey that would be completed before the end of 2022,” Chapman said. “We haven’t done a citizen survey for 20 to 25 years now and based on tonight’s public participation…I think it’s time. We need to get input from our residents on an organized basis and a citizen survey is one way to do that.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.