SOUTHINGTON — The town and First Congregational Church have reached a 10-year agreement on a parking lot that’s used for the annual Apple Harvest Festival.
The Town Council agreed to the decade-long lease during its meeting Monday. In exchange for public use of the church-owned lot, the town agreed to maintain the parking area. The church will also be listed on the Apple Harvest Festival map and its property will have trash cans maintained by festival workers.
Council Chairman Chris Palmieri spoke highly of First Congregational’s contribution to the fall festival.
“They’ve been a great partner over the past 25 years,” Palmieri said.
The church bought property adjacent to its location in 2002. An agreement shortly after the purchase mirrored the one approved Monday, with the town maintaining the lot in exchange for public use. No payment is included in the lease.
The lot is adjacent to a larger parking area east of Main Street that’s used for the festival’s carnival rides and food vendors.
The town is responsible for maintaining the pavement, snow removal and other upkeep, according to the agreement. The church’s portion of the lot extends south of Riccio Way and runs from Main Street to around the back of the church building. The remaining parking lot there is owned by the town. The parking lot to the north and east of Riccio Way is also town-owned.
For the past several years, agreements on the use of the church’s lot had been negotiated annually. Palmieri said a 10-year lease eliminates uncertainty and allows the festival committee to plan better.
“This was a huge benefit for the town to have such a long-term lease,” he said. “It’s going to benefit the festival, as well … This gives us more certainty.”
The Rev. Ron Brown said the recent agreement includes benefits to the church during the festival.
“It’s being recognized in the publications as a part of the Apple Harvest Festival,” he said. The church’s food and craft vendors will also be included in promotional material.
This year’s festival will be held Oct. 4 to 6 and 11 to 13.