Component of Smiler's Wharf traffic plan getting support

Mystic — While they did not make a decision, members of the Stonington Board of Police Commissioners and Chief J. Darren Stewart indicated support Thursday for a plan to make Cottrell Street one-way in the southerly direction, a critical component of the traffic plan for the controversial Smiler’s Wharf proposal.

But board members stressed that they had been considering the change long before the Smiler’s Wharf project was put forth, because it would not only create approximately 19 additional parking spots in an area that is sorely lacking parking but improve safety at the congested intersection of Cottrell and East Main streets.

Stewart said no one has contacted him to say the one-way street was not a good idea. He added that one question is: How much would it cost to engineer the change and how would the town fund the work? He said one idea may be to contact a group of University of Connecticut students who recently designed changes to Coogan Boulevard to slow traffic.

Stewart said when he and Groton Town Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro Jr. met with residents and business owners this week, the topic that was most discussed was the lack of parking in downtown Mystic.

The plan also would retain the two-way traffic pattern on adjacent Willow Street but the pattern on narrow Haley and Stanton streets could be altered to ensure good flow.

Board member Robert O’Shaughnessy said that the board’s consideration of the revised traffic pattern has nothing to do with Smiler’s Wharf but about safety.

Board member Bob Tabor agreed. “Smiler’s Wharf and Cottrell Street are completely separate issues. Whatever happens to Smiler’s Wharf, this project (to make the street one-way) stands on its own merit,” he said.

David Snediker, an opponent of the Smiler’s Wharf project who lives in that neighborhood, told the board he is torn about the one-way proposal. “If it was not for Smiler’s Wharf, I’d be more in favor of it,” he said.

He added though that Cottrell Street gives residents an additional escape route from their neighborhood while making the left turn onto East Main Street from Cottrell Street is easier when the downtown is busy and there are pedestrians in the crosswalks.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to resume its public hearing on Smiler’s Wharf at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 16, at Stonington High School.

The traffic study presented by the traffic engineer for Smiler’s Wharf assumes that Cottrell Street is one-way. If that does not happen, the traffic study and its impact on the downtown would have to be modified.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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