SOUTHINGTON — Construction on a go-kart track at Hidden Valley Miniature Golf is slated to begin this summer, part of a $1 million upgrade to the West Street facility that includes the removal of batting cages, building improvements and redesign of the golf course.
Owner Paul Rossi expects the 800-foot track for electric go-karts will attract a new generation of customers. He’s also motivated by competition from similar businesses on the Berlin Turnpike.
“This is something we’ve wanted to do for the past ten years,” Rossi said. “After 30 years (in business), we’re getting a little tired out there.”
He tested a track from Tennessee-based Amusement Products and found the electric cars thrilling.
“The first time I got in these cars, I got out like a 10-year-old kid with a big smile on my face,” Rossi said.
Each year, fewer customers use Hidden Valley’s batting cages. Rossi feels the decline is the result of a drop off in baseball participation and the installation of batting cages at more high schools. In June, the batting cages will be removed and construction will start on the go-kart track.
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved Rossi’s plan this week.
“I love hearing local businesses get supported by the community and they’re at a place where they’re successful enough to enhance it and make it better,” said planning Chairman Michael DelSanto.
In addition to the track, he plans to redesign some of the golf course holes, expand the deck and give the food and ice cream stand building a facelift.
Unlike gasoline-powered cars, the electric ones that Rossi plans to purchase are quiet and can be controlled remotely. From a control booth an operator can turn down the speed of a car. The track also monitors the speed of cars and automatically reduces speed for cars about to make a tight turn.
Cars have a top speed of 30 mph.
He’s hoping to have cars sponsored by West Street businesses. The owner of Kizl’s Family Restaurant next door, Trefon Goulias, said he’s glad that Rossi is planning improvements. Goulias allows Hidden Valley employees to park in his lot during peak hours.
“Paul’s a good guy,” Goulias said. ”We’re a small biz, too. We know how hard it is.”