Sports complex projects a challenge in Southington, Berlin

Sports complex projects a challenge in Southington, Berlin

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SOUTHINGTON — Town leaders remain hopeful about a sports complex considered for a 112-acre West Street property, although there’s no public progress yet.

A plan for a sports complex off the Berlin Turnpike in Berlin was abandoned, although it’s unclear if that’s a boost to Southington’s efforts.

Developer Lee Dibble had an option to buy the parcel from the Sepko family but that expired and the property was listed. He declined to comment on efforts to bring the sports complex project to fruition Wednesday. The plan includes covered playing fields, a restaurant and retail space.

The land at the corner of West and West Queen streets is listed for $7.8 million.

The town invested $40,000 in engineering and planning work on conceptual zoning approval that could help make the property more attractive to a developer. If the land is sold through the town’s efforts, the town gets the money back from the Sepko family according to an agreement.

Even with conceptual approval, a developer would need Planning and Zoning Commission support for a final site plan.

In 2014, developers announced plans to open a sports complex in Berlin by 2016. A lack of money and interest from the sports community killed that plan, according to Berlin Economic Development Director Chris Edge.

“The biggest issue is that we thought it had great potential. If there’s no resources behind it, it doesn’t fit,” he said.

“We are in the process of trying to do something (industrial) on the parcel,” Edge said of the land considered for a sports complex. “I think it would be a great place for a distribution type of use.”

Lou Perillo, Southington’s Economic Development Coordinator, said he’s not sure if the loss of the Berlin deal helps Dibble’s chances.

“From a demographic reach, perhaps having an additional facility may be seen by some as taking away some potential business, thereby putting one in jeopardy, but without knowing more specifics this would be difficult to say accurately,” Perillo said. “It’s unfortunate for the region.”

Dawn Miceli, Town Council vice chairwoman, said the council is regularly updated on the sports complex efforts by Perillo.

“Ours is still in the works,” she said. “They’re working on the finances. It is alive and well.”

The withdrawal of the sports complex plan in Berlin could be to Southington’s advantage, Miceli said, and that it “behooves us and developers to get going.”
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