Sharon’s selectmen begin conversation about the parking lot expansion
SHARON — Long under consideration, a plan to expand the Town Hall parking lot took a step ahead last week. A preliminary plan was announced at the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, Jan. 11. The meeting was conducted in person at Town Hall and remotely on Zoom, drawing six observers.
First Selectman Brent Colley announced that WMC Consulting Engineers had drawn a preliminary plan for parking lot improvements, a project that has already been awarded funding through a state STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) grant. The grant stipulates that the work be completed by August 2023.
According to the plan, parking spaces would increase from 41 to 53, including space for a van and two vehicles with “handicapped” tags. There would also be new lighting, landscaping and improved drainage, to direct water flow away from Town Hall and neighboring 67 Main St. As directed by the STEAP program, two electric vehicle-charging stations would be accommodated by installation of a conduit installed under the new pavement and a generator.
One resident questioned the wisdom of the charging stations and learned that it was a requirement of the STEAP program. Colley explained that the state grant program called for implementing charging stations within these types of improvements.
“We are looking toward the future and the future seems to be electric vehicles,” Colley said.
“This is one of the biggest projects undertaken at the Town Hall in years,” he added.
Residents can pick up a copy of the plan at Town Hall. Future informational hearings will be scheduled, giving residents opportunity for comment on its features.
The plan will need to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Historic District as part of the process, Colley said.
Following a report from Selectman Casey Flanagan and seeing no other viable option, the selectmen agreed to continue with a five-year MIRA (Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority) program contract that will transport the town’s solid waste to a distant state for landfill disposal.
Under the plan, Colley explained, Hartford’s MIRA, once a functioning trash-to-energy facility, will become a transfer station from which the town’s trash will be combined with that of other towns and hauled away, likely to Alabama or Ohio. The new system is expected to be costly.
The selectmen discussed the importance of promoting local programs to reduce the amount of household waste, mentioning the current food waste collection and composting program, along with recycling, at the local transfer station.