WALLINGFORD — Three parking lots that have long been the focus of efforts to improve the downtown area are on track to be repaved over the coming months.
The Town Council voted Tuesday to approve the transfer of $433,471 in funds for the repaving of the Wallace Avenue, Simpson Court and Brothers’ parking lots and for the installation of lighting.
“I'm really excited to get this finally going, because it’s been kind of stuck for a while,” Councilor Joseph Marrone said. Each of the projects have been discussed for years, including a referendum in which voters rejected the use of public funds to improve the Simpson Court lot, which is privately owned but leased by the town.
During the meeting, Public Works Director Robert Baltramaitis said the work could begin shortly after the council’s approval and, in the case of the Wallace Avenue lot, could be completed by the Wallingford 350th+2 Jubilee, which is scheduled for June 18 through 25.
“My office is poised right away with your approval this evening to get the awards out for the bids and purchase orders cranked out starting tomorrow,” he said. “My only concern is the possible lead time on some of the items, especially the site lighting — I just don't know what some of that timing would be. Ideally, we’re in the ground right away, we’re in there this spring and early summer. I would love to see, especially the Wallace Avenue lot, constructed before (Wallingford 350+2.) You know, that is a lofty goal.”
Councilor Jason Zandri applauded the addition of electric vehicle charging stations to the Simpson Court and Wallace Avenue lots, which he said could encourage drivers to patronize businesses downtown while their vehicles recharge.
“I do it often myself, I’ll park my car somewhere I know there’s a charger and I’ll go somewhere and eat. And that’s just another one of those things that draw people to wherever those chargers are,” he said.
The funding approved by the council on Tuesday shores up the difference between money already allocated towards the three projects and the cost of the bids awarded for the work. The town already had $117,265 earmarked for the Wallace Avenue lot and $293,205 for the Brothers’ lot, which is located on North Cherry Street.
The council also voted to add $25,000 for the installation of an additional two period lights at the entrance of the Wallace Avenue lot
The project as presented to the council included three period lights to be installed on the eastern side of Wallace Avenue lot to complete a line of historically themed lights along that side of the road. Councilor Craig Fishbein proposed the installation of another two period lights in the landscaping island placed in the middle of the eastern entrance of the lot.
“I would certainly be in favor of another $25,000 so that we can work on our downtown and make it more inviting. I just don't see taking the cheap way out,” he said.
Baltramaitis said that each light would cost approximately $12,000 to $13,000 and likely would not affect the completion time of the project, since similar lights are already being ordered.
Though that amendment was approved by the council, Fishbein noted that Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. has control of the Capital and Nonrecurring Expenditure Fund and thus possesses the ultimate authority to appropriate those funds.
Dickinson told the council he would not be in favor of adding just two lights to the western side of the road, which currently doesn’t have any decorative lighting.
“If we’re interested in doing the entire other side of the street, I think that’s a separate project. I am not in favor of doing one end of the street and then having others along that street — other property owners — saying ‘where’s the lights, why don't we have lights?’” he said.