Published March 01. 2014 4:00AM
Waterford - The town intends to apply for a $500,000 grant from the state to fund improvements to the streetscape surrounding Mago Point Park and a façade improvement program aimed at enhancing the appearance of Mago Point businesses.
The Planning and Zoning Commission voted Monday to support an application for funds through the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP). The Board of Selectmen will vote Tuesday on whether to approve the application. If approved, the application will be submitted to the state Office of Policy and Management.
"This is an area that was very vibrant many years ago," said First Selectman Daniel Steward.
The point is one of few town-owned commercial waterfronts with public access, according to the commission resolution supporting the grant application.
The grant would be used to fund two programs. The first would focus on the park created on the point several years ago. It would include expansion of public and handicapped parking, increased handicapped access to the park and installations of public art, among other additions.
The second program would offer incentives for businesses to upgrade façades and landscaping. The town would use STEAP funds to match businesses' investments 50 percent, up to an award of $25,000.
"It should make it more friendly so that when you go down there, you have something to do," said commission Chairwoman Gwen Hughes.
When the state Department of Transportation relocated and reconstructed the bridge over the Niantic River in 1991, traffic was diverted around Mago Point, located off Route 156.
"Now people don't drive by all these businesses, so there's no storefront access," Steward said.
Many businesses have closed since the changes, according to the resolution. Still on site are the restaurants The Dock and Sunset Ribs and Hillyer's Bait and Tackle. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection also has a boat launch on the point.
Steward noted that STEAP applications can take a long time to process and that if the grant is submitted, word on approval from the state may be slow.
The state has in the past granted STEAP money to Niantic and Cini Park. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the first round of 2014 STEAP funding Wednesday, with awards going to Avon, Chester, Farmington, Milford, New Milford and Sprague.