Mystic merchants ask for pause in construction

Groton — A group of frustrated merchants from downtown Mystic called for the Town Council Tuesday night to put a halt to the streetscape project during July and August to allow businesses a chance to recover from a climate made dismal by construction, traffic and the loss of parking spaces along West Main Street.

"You don't see more of us here crying because we've learned to be helpless, like rats in a study," Donna Williston, the owner of Finer Line Gallery and Framers of the Lost Art told the council. "We're drowning."

Several merchants said they were asked not to take their angst to the media because the public lamenting would drive customers away.

"That cat's out of the bag," Williston said. "People are bypassing Mystic because of the traffic congestion."

Williston was among a dozen merchants who showed up at the council meeting because they were told that the construction would not be completed by the June 30 deadline, and that Pettini Contractors, the company doing the work, would be given an extension on its contract.

Mayor Heather Bond Somers said that was not the case.

Mike Murphy, the town's director of planning and development, has said in the past that an extension would not determine when workers will depart the downtown. It would only determine penalties the company would pay for failing to complete the job on time.

"Somebody has to be accountable," Williston said. "You guys have to hear us. Work with your people. Do not (let the construction workers) be there in July and August. Give us a chance to recoup. Leave us alone for the summer."

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