Say ‘no’ to referendum
It’s déjà vu all over again: Another attempt by town officials to improve Wallingford’s town center, another cynical attempt to derail it with a planned referendum (R-J 2/3/21).
Once again, opponents will likely portray this project as “using public money to improve private property”. Once again, they are wrong. The Town’s proposal is to lease for 25 years a portion of the parking lot behind Simpson Court, improve it, and restore access from it to both Center Street and Church Street. That means that the four property owners give up control of a portion of their properties to the Town, for no lease payments (zero/zilch/zip) — while continuing to pay property taxes. It becomes, for all intents and purposes, public property for 25 years — as it has been for 60 years already. Will it benefit the Simpson Court businesses? Yes. But who else benefits? People who come into the town center to shop or run multiple errands. People who attend private events like weddings/funerals at First Congregational and First Baptist Churches. Holy Trinity School parents. People who come for special events: Memorial Day Parade, Celebrate Wallingford, Halloween Gathering, Holiday Stroll, Restaurant Hop, Season of Celebrations, the 350th Jubilee, and other public events I’m probably forgetting.
In short, the Simpson Court parking project will benefit our small businesses in the town center; our friends and neighbors who work for and patronize those businesses; and everyone who takes pride in and appreciates an attractive, vibrant town center. That attracts out-of-town visitors and businesses looking to locate in Wallingford. That benefits the tax base of our town. And that benefits ALL OF US.
So I implore you … if someone asks you to sign a petition to overturn the Town Council’s decision to go ahead with this project, please say “No.” Thank you.
Patricia J. Kohl, Wallingford