Town Council to discuss Storrs Center issues, housing needs

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Certain store tenants in Storrs Center have lost business due to aggressive ticketing by attendants from LAZ Parking, which manages the parking garage for Storrs Center. (Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

Certain store tenants in Storrs Center have lost business due to aggressive ticketing by attendants from LAZ Parking, which manages the parking garage for Storrs Center. (Kimberly Nguyen/The Daily Campus)

The Mansfield Town Council will discuss parking and tenant issues for downtown Storrs in the future, as well hold a public hearing for the Community Development Block Grant. The council also discussed a report regarding road improvements for the town, including traffic signal optimization and improvements to the road in front of Eastbrook Mall Monday night.

The issue of Storrs parking has been a heated one, with certain store tenants citing lost business due to aggressive ticketing by attendants from LAZ Parking, which manages the parking garage for Storrs Center.

Republican council member Betty Wassmundt called for the topic to be added as a future agenda item, with several other council members calling for a discussion regarding the Mansfield Downtown Partnership’s role in Storrs Center.

“We’ve heard from a handful of folks… I think it would be helpful to ask the town manager [and the Partnership] to discuss what is being covered in the news, and the issues tenants are having,” Democrat town council member Ben Shaiken said.

Wassmundt said after the meeting that Storrs Center is an important topic of the council to discuss.

“The downtown does seem to be losing tenants,” Wassmundt said. “It is critical for the council to understand what is going on. The profit LAZ is making… nobody was given that info before.”

In addition to the downtown discussion, the council voted unanimously to hold a public hearing regarding the Community Development Block Grant, which will allow for residents to discuss housing and community development needs within the town. One of the uses for the state-given grant is to help low-income homeowners rehabilitate and repair their homes, Director of Planning and Development Linda Painter said.

“We offer loans to low-income homeowners to do basic rehabilitation on their homes,” Painter said. “This is a program the town has been running for many years. We offer a no-interested deferred loan… you have to meet income requirements, and we do basic repairs, roofs, siding.”

The council also discussed the final report for the Eastern Gateways study, an assessment conducted by Capitol Region Council of Governments and Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc. The report highlighted issues with traffic and roads within Mansfield, as well as the plans for implementing change and improvements to the roads.

The council members emphasized the need for improvements to traffic signals within the town.

“What are we waiting for?” Republican council member David Freudmann said. “You come through Storrs Center at 1 o’clock in the morning, it goes through all the cycles 24/7… it should be green.”

While the signals are controlled by the state Department of Transportation, said Director of Public Works John Carrington, the town will be in contact with the state to better the traffic signals.

Democrat council member Toni Moran recommended improvements to the area in front of Eastbrook Mall.

“There’s a requirement that people shift lanes, there are mergers that make life difficult. It’s difficult to turn into McDonald’s from the north or south… to get on Route 6, you need to get into the right turn only lane,” Moran said. “There are some real problems there.”

The report also calls for collaboration between the University of Connecticut and Mansfield during special events, such as games and concerts.

“The roads into the town, and the parking can get really [congested],” Moran said. “A proposal to coordinate during these kinds of events is a really good idea.”


Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.

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