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Town hopes for speedy finish to Mystic Streetscape Project


MYSTIC — Plans for Phase II of the Mystic Streetscape Project are awaiting state approval and Groton administrators are hopeful that the work will be completed by June 30, at the latest, just in time for the summer season.

Director of Planning and Development Michael J. Murphy said officials were on the verge of starting the bidding process. The plans and specifications were being reviewed by the state and were expected to be approved shortly.

Murphy and project manager Rick Norris said a pre-bid conference had been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 18. A bid opening is scheduled for Oct. 31 and a public information meeting will be held in January.

Both Murphy and Norris have stressed the need to start the work as soon as possible in the new year with construction slated for early March. With an early start, the chances are better for an early completion — something that downtown merchants need for a successful economic season. Delays in completion of Phase I and years of drawbridge repairs have caused some businesses to struggle, or in several cases, close.

Phase II begins where Phase I left off, from the driveway of the Mystic Arts Center on Water Street to the traffic island near the Daniel Packer Inne. It is a shorter distance and a less complicated project than Phase I; for example, the lighting work was already completed as part of the first phase. It includes paving, curbing and sidewalk construction.

“It’s a pretty simple project, as they go,” Murphy told Town Council memebers last month.

When complete the sidewalk will be continuous along the full length of the project.

Sidewalks, landscaping and some benches will upgrade the public restroom building. An attempt to expand its parking was rejected by the state becauser of sight line requirements for oncoming traffic. According to Murphy, the installation of landscaping elements, benches, and widening of the sidewalk is a less prevalent feature of Phase II.

“It’s a narrow sidewalk and there isn’t a lot of room,” he said.

New sidewalks will be installed except in front of The Oyster Club, where a sidwalk was recently constructed as part of the business’ most recent renovation. At New London Road, new catch basins will be installed with a layer of pavers as a finish, and seven parking spaces will be added on Water Street across from the traffic island. According to Murphy, an attempt to replace the island with a right angle turn was quashed because of the presence of Native American and Colonial artifacts.

Both planners and councilors agreed that completing the work in a timely fashion is imperative to the economic success of downtown. The bid contract quotes a penalty of $500 per day if not complete, but Mayor Heather Bond Somers said it was an insufficient deterrent.

“I think everyone in this room needs to be held accountable,” Somers said.

However, she also acknowledged the work of Murphy and Norris, thanking them for communicating with downtown merchants to keep them informed on the latest happenings.

“I have all the faith that you can make it happen,” she said.

For detailed plans on Phase II, visit their Phase I and II website, http://www.groton-ct.gov/depts/plandev/MysticStScape.asp.

 


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