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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Parking lot work ready to start at Wooding-Caplan

As published in the Record Journal Thursday August 23, 2012

By Laurie Rich Salerno
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2235

WALLINGFORD - The town is about to begin construction on a temporary parking lot at the Wooding-Caplan property and related improvements to the area, town officials said Wednesday.

Town Engineer John Thompson said work will begin in a few weeks on the first stage of the three-part project, which will eventually result in a 100-space parking lot on the town-owned Wooding-Caplan property. Officials would like to have the project done by the time Celebrate Wallingford takes place, on Oct. 6 and 7, but that depends on how construction proceeds, Thompson said.

The lot will provide what some say is much-needed parking.

“I’m very happy,” said Town Councilor John Sullivan, a Democrat. “Uptown needs more parking. Hopefully this will fit that need. As long as we can direct people to that lot, it is going to be a key to the success there.”

The land is near the center of town, behind buildings on North Main, Center, Academy, and North Elm streets. The project is expected to cost $200,000.

The Town Council approved the plans last spring after asking town staff to report on the feasibility of putting temporary parking on the Wooding-Caplan site. The request came after voters rejected a plan in November 2011 for the town to repair a privately owned lot behind Simpson Court.

The first stage will involve milling and resurfacing the parking lot behind the police station, which will be next to the new lot. The work will fix potholes and other breaks in the pavement, restripe the lot, and install new drainage, Thompson said.

The town selected R.P. Dalton Asphalt Paving, of Waterbury, to do the work on police lot, and Thompson said he expects work to begin in the next few weeks.

The rest of the work will be done by the town Public Works Department.

The second phase is widening and paving of Wallace Avenue, an alley that will serve as the access road to the new lot. Department of Transportation permits will likely be obtained in the next two weeks for the project, Thompson said.

The street is now about 12 feet wide, within a 50-foot public right of way. The final road will have two 13-foot lanes, one headed in and one out, with an added 8-foot parallel parking lane on the east side of the street.

“We’re constructing this Wallace Avenue Connection as though it’s going to be a town street,” Thompson said. That means digging up the road and moving some of the utilities — including water and sewer pipes under the street, which Thompson said may slow construction.

“Once you start digging, you never know what you’re going to encounter,” Thompson said.

The final road will have lighting and curbs. It is being constructed not only for the parking lot, but for any structures that may come after the parking lot.

The final stage will be creating the temporary parking lot itself. The Public Works Department will take millings gathered from a resurfacing project on North Plains Industrial Road and roll them out to create the lot surface. The lot is expected to last seven to 10 years. Construction on North Plains Industrial Road is set to begin in the next two weeks, Thompson said.

The surface will be more stable than gravel, but won’t be as permanent as pavement, said Public Works Director Henry McCully.

“It binds very solidly together,” McCully said.

The final lot will have lights and a sidewalk connecting it to Center Street. Initially there will be no time limit on parking there, Thompson said,but if cars are parked there for days, or other issues arise, the town may consider putting some regulations on the spaces.

Thompson said some residents of North Elm Street have raised concerns about flooding from the work. He said that after meeting with residents and investigating the property, it was discovered that there are drainage issues on the Wooding-Caplan site. The town will put in a drainage system that will collect groundwater and route it to Center Street so it doesn’t affect North Elm Street residents.

“We heard the comments from the residents — it was legitimate — and we’re using conventional engineering strategies to try and solve it,” Thompson said.

The Wooding-Caplan property was bought by the town in 1991 for $1.5 million. There have been many plans for the site, including a 2006 sale to a developer for condominium and commercial space that was rejected in a referendum, and as the location of a new $20 million police station that was explored in 2008 but not pursued.

As for the current plans, “the pieces are falling into place,” Thompson said.

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