Last November, Wallingford residents voted to stop the town from spending $500,000 on upgrading a parking area behind Simpson Court. The privately owned, publicly used space is leased by the town for $1 a year from the surrounding businesses.
At Tuesday evening’s Town Council meeting, councilors discussed Mayor William Dickinson’s proposal to apply for a $500,000 state grant to cover improvement costs.
“It deserves our attention,” said Dickinson, “so it remains public parking.”
Under the proposal, the surrounding businesses would each spend $20,000 toward the project, and be reimbursed half. Holy Trinity School would pay $10,000. The application deadline is Sept. 28.
The town council was split on whether to move forward or not, citing various concerns.
“I can’t support this, the way it’s set up right now,” said Councilor Jason Zandri, “because the residents were loud and clear on what they did not want.”
He also asked whether a study to determine the lot’s actual use had ever been conducted.
Councilor John LeTourneau says he’s seen the lot “maxed out” and said that depending on the time of day, sometimes there is no parking available downtown.
“We can back away and do absolutely nothing, and it will stay just the way it is,” said LeTourneau. “But then we go into, if you do nothing you have nothing.”
“This is nowhere near better than the last plan,” said Councilor Craig C. Fishbein. “It’s a slap in the face to our taxpayers,” referring to the outcome of last year’s referendum stopping the town from proceeding.
Councilor Nick Economopoulos said that if the town applies for this grant, it might just go to referendum again.
“Aren’t we concerned with that?” said Economopoulos.
Also heavily discussed during the meeting was the retaining wall bordering Holy Trinity and if the town did indeed build the wall in the 1950s.