I’ve been trying to think of a game that helps describe what’s going on, or what could be going on, in Wallingford. I can’t say I’ve been successful. Tetris comes to mind, because of the way things have to fall in place just right. There’s also Rubix Cube, because you have to arrange things just so. Musical chairs, maybe, but in order for this to work nobody should get left out.
The police are leaving the armory building on North Main Street for somewhere on Barnes Road. That leaves an opportunity. There’s the idea that the building, which if you ask me looks like something out of Hogwarts, could serve as a good home for Wallingford Adult Education. It certainly looks like a place where you could learn something.
Adult education has been operating out of the old train station. As the Record-Journal recently reported, the Town Council has authorized Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. to seek state funding that would pay for half of $3.5 million for a project to restore the historic train station.
Early stages need a rosy outlook, and in this case there’s a good one. Town Councilor Craig Fishbein has suggested it could be something along the lines of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, though, of course, smaller. At this point I need to pause and remind you that Fishbein, a Republican, is also seeking re-election as state representative for the 90th district. His opponent is Democrat Rebecca Hyland. Two good candidates. Tough choice.
Getting back to the train station. There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm. “I really think it could be an add on to the whole area,” said Democratic Councilor Jason Zandri. “I think this adds a lot of positives, and to me there are zero negatives because we have to put money into this anyway.”
“We feel this is a good move for the community and the economic solvency of the entire area,” said Anthony Bracale, a member of the Economic Development Commission.
The idea that the town ought to just sell the place has also come up — and of course that would be a game changer. It would also be wasting an opportunity. As Kate Ramunni’s R-J story noted, in 1993 the train station was put on the National Register of Historic Places. It is iconic in a suitably New England-y way, and is the type of place that could serve as a symbol for the town, if you wanted it to. It’s a source of identity, which is an asset for a municipality.
I think I got the basics right. Move the police out of the armory to Barnes Road. Move adult education out of the train station to the armory. Move all sorts of opportunity in to the train station.
There are always complications. In this case the major one, as the R-J story noted, is timing. If adult education has to leave the train station before the police move out of the armory it means a temporary home for adult ed will have to be found. That’s not a deal-breaker, but it makes the game a little trickier.
“The worst case scenario is that it takes a while and they are forced to find temporary space,” said Democratic Town Councilor Vincent Testa. “It might be better to take this slow and make a better decision.”
If they can make it work it will be a win for everyone.
Reach Jeffery Kurz at firstname.lastname@example.org.