UPDATE: Groton Will Pay For Downtown Mystic Parking

Town Council decides to foot the bill; street milling to be done Thursday


The Groton Town Council decided Tuesday night to pay for parking the in the  lot in an effort to .

The deal with the art center will cover five hours of parking for anyone in the lot. The town will pay the art center $3/hour for that time.

The town will foot the bill for six weeks and possibly beyond to the tune of not more than $50,000 in available encumbered funds.

It could start as soon as Thursday but definitely by the weekend - the deal needs to be finalized between the two parties.

The plan is hoped to by the ongoing streetscape project. Merchants said the , traffic delays and lack of free onstreet parking has hurt their businesses.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Tricia Cunningham, president. “This will afford us the opportunity to promote downtown Mystic again. All the businesses and the town can wrap their arms around this as a whole. I’m thrilled.”

Downtown shop owner Cathy McHugh told the council that the time to “point fingers” is over: “We need to just get through this.”

Mayor Heather Bond Somers explained that the arts center provides the first half hour of free parking and the town will pick up the other 4 ½ hours at a rate of $3 per hour, per car—with no limitations on who can park there. Anyone that parks longer than the free 5 hours will pay the overage at the $3 an hour rate.

“The town wants to do something beneficial for the merchants. Having free parking for people that want to shop, go to restaurants,” she said.

The council supported the plan preliminarily at the Committee of the Whole and then voted during its regular meeting to support the resolution; Councilor Frank O’Beirne abstained and Councilor Bruce Flax was not at the meeting.  

“How quickly can we make signs,” Mayor Somers asked.

Meanwhile, the streetscape project “is making good progress” project manager Rick Norris told the council.  To that end, he said that street milling will begin Thursday just after dawn. That part of the project was supposed to be done at night but Norris said the contractor was not able to make that happen.

Milling is an “early Christmas present,” said Town Manager Mark Oefinger because once the milling is completed, paving is not far behind. Indeed, paving is slated to begin June 27. Milling will require the shutdown of streets Thursday, the police department has been in consultation with Norris and Oefinger to coordinate traffic concerns.

Several councilors were upset that they were precluded from commenting more on the streetscape debacle that has left downtown a disaster area and merchants struggling to stay alive; Oefinger cautioned councilors from remarking personally because of the threat of possible litigation.

W@lly June 21, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Your website states that you're open from 7am - 7pm.... And I'll say this again, they took away illegal parking spaces and added handicap ones. They extended the sidewalk for safety purposes and to accomodate crosswalks which was all mandated by the State DOT. You may not like it but I bet you'd like a dead body in the middle of the road a lot less. People can and will walk. Perhaps you should encourage them to use the lot that is easily accessible directly across the street from your shop. Make sure they use the crosswalk though ;)
littleredhouse June 21, 2012 at 03:49 PM
When I'm in downtown Mystic, the majority of the stores are closed. True, it's after 7pm and I'm there for dinner but I love to putz around these kinds of stores and they're never opened. I'd be much more inclined to help them out if I saw them putting in the same effort and staying opened later. It's summertime and tons of people flock to Mystic to eat dinner. It'd be in their best interest to stay open later.
Ross Mandell June 21, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Our own business does not lend itself to many night customers, especially compared to the cost of staying open. We are a morning business. But we will stay open if people are here. many of the others are solo and the owner needs to get home for his or her own families. Its a tough call. I agree that it would be better if they stayed open later. I used to stay open every night until 9 but the cost was high and few customers came in after 8.
augie42 June 21, 2012 at 07:19 PM
The sad thing about having that much encumbered money 'lying around' is that the budget process that put it there was not strict enough. No one asks where the left over money is....and the next year the Town asks for more? This is what we have a contingency fund for, hence the name. Each dept needs to spend within limits, and the excess should go back to the general fund at the end of each year....with the biggest eye on the Education budget.
Richard T. Froh June 21, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Some clarifications: Ross, I believe that we are not complaining about your store, but that nothing other than an ice cream cone is available for purchase n Mystic after people finish their days at the two major attractions and arrive downtown. If Mystic depends on parking directly in front of stores, then pack up and leave now, because it was just as unsustainable with the former number of parking places as it is with the current number. Now the streets are usable by large numbers of pedestrians, which (unless y'all plan to install drive-throughs) are ALL of your customers. Mystic's way-finding is currently abysmal. It needs to be visitor-friendly. Visitors need signage showing locations and distances to parking and attractions. Nobody understands distances until they are displayed and depicted, so people are afraid to walk because they don't know how far they will have to walk or what direction downtown is or parking is. Mystic has to be explained so people know what to expect. Visitors like a LITTLE mystery and excitement in their vacations, but fear getting too far away or lost. Go visit the Mystic Mobility Study and learn about what visitors want.


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