Stonington police commissioners delay decision on one-way Cottrell Street

Mystic — The Stonington Board of Police Commissioners on Thursday agreed to delay a decision for one month on a controversial proposal to make Cottrell Street one-way in a southerly direction from Route 1 to the intersection of Washington and Willow streets.

In addition, the commissioners voted to authorize police Chief J. Darren Stewart to include two items in the town’s 2020-21 capital improvement budget — more sidewalks along Washington Street to improve pedestrian safety and $25,000 to help fund a comprehensive traffic and parking study of downtown Mystic done in conjunction with the Town of Groton.

The commissioners also authorized Stewart to work with the town highway department to create a striping plan for parking spots along Willow and Jackson Avenue to make parking more efficient and stop cars from blocking residents’ properties.

As they did at last month’s meeting, commissioners again heard from residents of the surrounding neighborhood who opposed the one-way plan.

Town officials are considering the plan as a way to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, provide between 6 and 13 more parking spaces in an area that has a parking shortage, especially in the summer, and generate additional economic opportunity for businesses. Many of the spots would become diagonal instead of parallel to make it easier to park.

Ben Tamsky, the president of the Mystic River Park Commission, which manages much of the property on Cottrell Street, again urged the board to undertake a comprehensive traffic and parking study of the downtown before making a change to Cottrell Street. He said the park commission also is concerned about safety on a one-way street as it approaches the park playground. He asked that the board hold a formal public hearing on the proposed change.

Judi Caracausa, who owns Market Realty on Cottrell Street, urged the board to hold off on a decision until it sees the impact of a new restaurant that will open in the Whaler’s Inn.

Paul Sartor of Jackson Avenue also recommended the board consider a comprehensive traffic study and resident-only parking in the neighborhood. “There’s no emergency here. ... Let’s do this right,” he told the board.

Board member Bob O’Shaughnessy pointed out the intersection of Cottrell and East Main is rated an “F” by the state Department of Transportation and that making the change would only involve some signs and paint. If the change doesn’t work out, he said, “we can change it back.”

Board Chairman Henri Gourd told residents that the board’s role is to take into account many different factors, such as pedestrian safety, signage, sight lines and parking.

“We cannot make everyone happy,” he said.

Separately at the meeting, with the construction of the new Hartford Healthcare building, the board agreed to create a four-way stop at the intersection of Jerry Browne Road and Coogan Boulevard.

Signs and roadway painting cautioning drivers of the upcoming stop signs also will be placed along Jerry Browne Road. Currently, there is only a stop sign at Coogan Boulevard.

Editor's Note: The headline of this version corrects the spelling of Cottrell Street.


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