First Selectman: Locust Avenue Lot Repaving Project Likely Put Off to Next Summer

The widely anticipated repaving of the Locust Avenue Lot likely will take place next summer instead of this year, as originally planned, officials say. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said during an update to the Parking Commission at the appointed body’s most recent meeting that he had “thought it was going to get done in August, but I don’t think it’s going to get done in August” now. Saying he was concerned about “people’s need for parking,” Moynihan told the Commission during its July 11 meeting that the work will involve “re-architecting” the lot. 

“They are going to redo the lot,” Moynihan said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. The town’s budget for the current fiscal year includes a $500,000 item for “parking lot construction” that had been thought to go toward the heavily used and deteriorating permit-and-meter parking lot next to the Post Office. Earlier this year, public works officials said that the repaving project could end up more expensive than originally planned if, when the town starts to dig up the area, it runs into the demolished, buried remains buildings that used to stand there. 

Thought nearly three years ago to be right for an estimated $4 million decking job, the lot is to be removed and replaced during a single estimated two-month period, public works officials have said.

Prospect of Three-Level Deck at Locust Lot Emerges after Current Project’s Funding Is Cut from FY ‘18 Budget

After seeing its funding cut from next fiscal year’s budget, the proposed parking deck at Locust Avenue could come back to the town with a third level, officials said. Doing so would mean the economics of the project “get much better than they are right now,” according to Parking Commission Keith Richey. “The economics for that are kind of stretched, so you add another floor and at least 70 spots which you can say is entirely for commuter parking,” Richey said at the commission’s meeting Thursday, held at Town Hall. “So that is scratching my itch because of how high the Post Office now is, that you would not have to dig down that much because a three-story [deck] would still not be very high and if you are going to fight to death to get this thing done, would you not fight to get 150 extra spots rather than just 75 extra spots?”

Long a supporter of the decking at Locust Avenue, Richey on behalf of the Parking Commission expressed frustration that it has been put off further, calling the project “snakebit,” and said he learned of the possibility of a third tier for the deck from First Selectman Rob Mallozzi. Supported by the Board of Selectmen in its review of the town’s spending plan for fiscal year 2018, the $4,125,000 in bonding for the widely anticipated parking deck was cut by the Board of Finance.

‘This Is Exciting’: New Rendering Unveiled for Proposed Locust Avenue Parking Deck

Public works officials are seeking approval to kickstart next fiscal year the highly anticipated parking deck at the Locust Avenue lot, a proposal that has garnered wide support from municipal officials but has been put off with major capital projects at Town Hall and Saxe Middle School. The estimated $4,125,000 would be bonded (minus up to $500,000 to be withdrawn from a town “parking fund”) during fiscal year 2018 and the structure itself “is in keeping with the Post Office” next door and firehouse across the street, according to Department of Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “You see how nice it fits in with the Post Office,” Mann told members of the Board of Selectmen during a budget presentation on Jan. 24 at Town Hall. Referring to a new rendering (see two-slide gallery above) of the deck, Mann said a view from the Forest Street side of Locust “is clean” though there’s a telephone pole and transformer in the way from Joe’s Pizza across the street.

Traffic Consultant: There’s a Safe ‘Sweet Spot’ for Heritage Hill Road Access To Proposed Locust Parking Deck

The widely anticipated, proposed parking deck on Locust Avenue cleared a final major planning hurdle Tuesday, as consultants with a transportation planning firm reported that there’s a way to design the new structure without jeopardizing pedestrian or motorist safety. Expected to increase the total number of spaces there by 58 percent, from 153 to 242, the proposed parking deck—with one minor timing change at a nearby traffic light—also will not noticeably change current traffic patterns in the area, a consultant from Cheshire-based Milone & MacBroom Inc. told the Board of Selectmen at its regular meeting. Plans call for a parking tier accessible from Heritage Hill Road with a non-connected lower level that feeds onto Locust Avenue. Addressing a major concern from residents of Heritage Hill Road, the firm’s traffic study examined three different sight lines for the proposed entrance/exit there, Milone & MacBroom’s David Sullivan told the selectmen at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “We looked at the sight line if you are coming out of the driveway if you can see to the left and right, on Heritage Hill Road,” he said.

‘It’s Going to Impact the Quality of Our Lives’: Concerns About Locust Avenue Parking Deck Plans Linger

The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday approved funds for preliminary, pre-construction work on a proposed new Locust Avenue parking deck, conditioned on two things: that a widely anticipated traffic study turns up no safety concerns and that there’s input from police, fire and EMTs on the plan. The architectural and engineering services, from a Rocky Hill-based firm, come to a total of $52,226, under a contract approved during the selectmen’s regular meeting. “We are not going to go ahead with this until we get our traffic study and involve our police and fire department,” First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said during the meeting, held Tuesday at Town Hall. An initial traffic study conducted several years ago flagged no reasons to delay or reject the project, however, people felt that the study wasn’t complete, according to Mike Pastore, director of the Department of Public Works. A second traffic consultant was hired, and the report should be analyzed within the next few days, he said.