SOUTHINGTON - Town leaders joined the Southington Chamber of Commerce and local business owners taking a stroll through Plantsville Wednesday, discussing current issues facing the area and ideas for its improvement.
Community leaders, including Liz Hyatt, executive director of the Southington Chamber of Commerce, Town Manager Garry Brumback, Deputy Town Manager and Town Attorney Mark Sciota, Director of Public Works Keith Hayden and many more, met at the Clock Tower Square Gazebo and then walked to three local businesses, Vnam Kitchen, SoulSpace Yoga & Wellness and Lawrence’s Pizza, formerly Plantsville Pizza.
The walk-thru is held annually as a long-time partnership between the chamber and town government.
“We’re seeing a lot of empty storefronts filled and great energy here,” said Hyatt, prior to the tour. “Plantsville businesses are taking great pride in being in the community and it shows.”
Before the beginning of the tour, Town Manager Garry Brumback noted that the Town Council recently approved a resident moving a working, 100-year-old water fountain onto the green at Clocktower Square. The project will be paid for by fundraising and will not impact taxpayers.
Later, Brumback discussed the fact that officials are waiting on the state to fund a $2.4 million renovation of the main intersection in Plantsville. He said that the project has been confirmed to be “in the queue” at the state and that they will be providing a 100 percent grant. The town just has to send traffic data and submit a design.
“Right now cars are parking on sidewalks and there isn’t a good traffic flow,” said Brumback. “Dawn Miceli has been a proponent of this ever since she got on the council and I have tried every year that I have been here to get the revenue. Plantsville is an integral part of the community and I have received verbal commitments from a lot of business owners that they will step up their game as well once this renovation goes through.”
Miceli later noted that the idea of creating larger street banners to help advertise the Plantsville section of town was a subject brought up at a recent Economic Development Committee meeting.
The owners of Vnam Kitchen, SoulSpace Yoga & Wellness and Lawrence’s Pizza were then asked what the town could do to help them to succeed.
Michelle Marshall said that she wanted more guidance from the town when going through the permitting process for her Vietnamese restaurant.
“Our foot traffic is not too bad but we have only a very small sign and people are still unsure where to park,” she said. “We were packed during the White Christmas in the Community though and people that know we are here are very receptive.”
“This is how we grow and get better,” said Brumback. “I’m genuinely interested in hearing about these kinds of experiences.
At SoulSpace, yoga instructor Cheryl Moran spoke with town officials while class participants sat on rolled out rugs in the cool upstairs room, waiting to resume their stretches and exercises.
“This place adds something beautiful to the community,” remarked Hyatt after entering through a door which urged visitors to write down what things they hoped to let go of.
“Parking is a concern,” said Moran. “People are parking on the streets or in the gravelly lot next to us.”
Finally, town officials spoke with Lawrence Pergjoni, owner of Lawrence’s Pizza. He noted that since re-opening recently, “everyone is happy to have us back.”
Pergjoni gave the visitors complimentary water bottles and slices of clam casino pizza as he shared his concerns with night-time visibility.
“We have enough parking but there is not enough lighting,” he said. “At 8 p.m., nobody sees us. We put in back lighting for our sign but we were told to take it out.”
Brumback then spoke with Pergjoni about a compromise involving lower powered lights that met zoning requirements and didn’t create a traffic hazard.