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Business community happy budget includes funding for downtown Southington upkeep

SOUTHINGTON — Nearly 14 years after the downtown Renaissance Project, many aspects of the project show signs deterioration. The proposed operating budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year includes $25,000 as part of an eight-phase plan to revitalize the weathered renovations.

Repairing sidewalks, curbs, trash cans and benches, changing light bulbs, painting crosswalks, and fixing other problem areas would cost about $25,000 per phase, said Art Secondo, president of the Southington Chamber of Commerce.

“That’s a lot to do at once,” Secondo said. Breaking up the repairs would “not hit taxpayers or the town with lots of money at once” he added.

Hopes are that it would be less than eight phases to complete the repairs, Secondo said.

Members of the Southington Chamber of Commerce and the town’s Central Business Alliance Committee have been working to try to get the updates in the town budget for a few years.

With some of the proposed budget focusing on repairing and looking at town infrastructure and the economy slowly on the rise, Town Manager Garry Brumback felt it was a good time to include the downtown. Breaking up the work will also help renew aspects of the area every year, he said.

“It’s smart from a budgeting perspective,” Brumback said.

Al Monbaron, a Southington business owner and chairman of the Central Business Alliance, said he is ecstatic that updates are being considered for the 2014-15 fiscal year. He has been part of the town’s Central Business Alliance for the past four years and each year members have hoped for some upkeep.

“We think it’s a prudent plan and a necessary plan,” Monbaron said. “We’re happy that the town has addressed it.”

The first phase would start with repairs along on North Main Street. Center Street would follow.

Benches will be fixed and trash cans will be cleaned. Parts of the sidewalk on North Main Street have “sunken in,” Secondo said. And street lights are dim, so newer, brighter bulbs will be added to light up the street and its businesses.

“That will really make a difference,” Secondo said.

Every year town officials, business members, and others take a walk through downtown Southington and Plantsville to see where improvements can be made.

“Hopefully now those walks will just be pointing out the occasional issue and not a systemic problem,” Brumback said.

The budget still has to be reviewed by the Board of Finance, which will likely make cuts before it goes to the Town Council.

“We’re fortunate we have a good downtown,” Secondo said. “We don’t want to lose that. A lot of money was put into this years ago. It’s a big deal. We’re asking to preserve it.” (203) 317-2212 Twitter: @FollowingFarrah

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