SOUTHINGTON — It’s been a few years since the idea of improving the aesthetics in the downtown area of Plantsville first came up. Because of a lack of funding it has yet to come to fruition.
Town Council candidates reached for comment recently agreed that implementing the proposed Plantsville Renaissance project should attract more business and people downtown and supported the efforts.
“I think if we did it properly we could see a huge return in our investment down there and could take off some pressure in West Street and Queen Street and spread economic developments around town,” said Chris Kelley, a Democrat.
“I think the town has to use the economic development policy to focus on the areas and bring businesses and more people in those areas to keep them alive and well,” said Republican incumbent Cheryl Lounsbury. “We should work with our legislatures to get money to do some renaissance work.”
Plans for the Plantsville Renaissance include the addition of decorative lighting, a scenic overlook of the Quinnipiac River, benches and brick paving. With the changes the hope is that it will attract more people to the area and in turn more businesses will want to establish there. It’s estimated the project will cost about $1 million. The town was trying to obtain a Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant from the state for the work but hasn’t had luck yet. More than 10 years ago the same type of work was done to the downtown area of Southington.
“We’re extremely hopeful that it will come, we’re just waiting for the grant,” said Art Secondo, the president of the Chamber of Commerce. “We are working on it. It’s not a dead issue.”
Democratic incumbent Chris Palmieri said he supports the revitalization and it is a good move to help the average homeowner in town.
“The more we can get people to invest in our local restaurants, businesses, the better off we are,” Palmieri said.
Republican candidate Victoria Triano said both downtowns are “the heart of the community” and that more needs to be done to help secure funding to start the project in Plantsville.
“Finances of course are always an issue,” Triano said. “We’ve seen some very successful grants that have come into the community for specific areas. The renaissance projects in both downtown Plantsville and Southington are perfect for receiving grant money to help us along. It is very important for us to do that.”
While candidates agreed that the work needs to be complete and will help the area, they have different ideas of how the area, including downtown Southington that was beautified more than 10 years ago, should be maintained after renewal.
“We need to look at that and see if a maintenance program was put together for it,” said Republican candidate Paul Champagne. Champagne said he “would like to be an active part in the maintenance” if he is elected.
Democratic candidate Dennis Conroy said he hopes with any renovations that the “village look” would be maintained. He also suggested changes to improve traffic flow to maintain the areas.
“Maybe there’s a little work on roads with coordination of signal with the state Department of Transportation,” Conroy said. “I think that’s a primary issue.”
Democratic incumbent Dawn Miceli said she would like to see both downtowns use decorative way-finding signs to direct visitors to key amenities.
“This would help enhance and maintain this as a destination location,” said Miceli. “It really adds to the aesthetics of the community and it also has purpose and is also practical.”
Republican candidate Tom Lombardi said investing in the downtown area will “attract quality tenants” and by attracting tenants it brings in more people. He wants, however, not to overdevelop the Plantsville area and to keep its “small feel.”
“We are essentially enhancing our economic development by encouraging both businesses and citizens to shop, dine, and live in this area of town,” Lombardi said.