Beautification Task Force Seeks to Enhance Glenville’s Character and Village Feel

The Pemberwick-Glenville Association meeting Wednesday night, members of the Glenville Beautification and Streetscape Task Force shared their ideas and took community input.

The Dept of Public Works is set to begin traffic improvements on the Glenville Road corridor, starting at Stop & Shop and continuing down to Weaver Street. Funding comes from a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant with 100% Federal funds administered by the CT DOT.

Deputy DPW commissioner Jim Michel said the project was in the final design stages and would be completed in the middle to end of 2021, with construction starting tentatively in spring 2022. He said he anticipated a 9 month construction season.

“We don’t plan to have any road or intersection closures during the project,” he said.

The purpose of the beautification task force is to jump off from the work of the traffic corridor improvements and focus on “community character and a sense of place.”

The Beautification Task Force said they’d like to make the Glenville Green more of a hub, and more “park like.”

JoAnn Messina, who leads the Greenwich Tree Conservancy, and is part of the Beautification Task Force, said she became involved after the tree warden posted London Plane and Black Locust trees for removal to accommodate the traffic corridor improvements.

“I am happy to say that the plans have been redone since that hearing by DPW, and the London Plane trees along the field will all be preserved,” she said. “Only the two Black Locusts in front of the fire house will have to be removed. This is the canopy that really shows what the Glenville Green is.”

Messina said the Tree Conservancy also seeks to “green the parking lot” behind the Fire Dept.

“We like to call them ‘parking parks,;” she said, adding that when DPW planned to pave the lot, they installed islands where the Tree Conservancy added trees.

Another Tree Conservancy initiative was to plant “Gratitude Groves” across town to honor frontline workers.

One of the Gratitutde Groves is on the back of the field next to the Civic Center. She said so far 7 Hackberries had been planted behind the diamond on the slope.

Karen Matrunich said the Beautification Task Force’s goal was to enhance Glenville’s character and village feel, with an eye to making public spaces more enjoyable. Through partnering with Tree Conservancy they’ve been able to preserve mature trees.

Because some of the other Beautification Task Force’s ideas will require funding, they are seeking to create a public-private partnership with local businesses.

Ms Matrunich called Glenville Green “a diamond in the rough.”

She said seating could be added to encourage people to spend more time in the park, to improve landscaping to add seasonal interest, to enhance use of trees such as the ones added to the repaved parking lot, and improve walkways to make it more pedestrian accessible.

Other projects that might require fundraising include adding pedestrian level lighting with a historic feel.

“The idea is to enhance walkability particularly in the evening,” she said. “When you come around that corner coming into Glenville, you’ll see those lights and know that you’ve arrived. The place will be sparkling.”

Matrunich said the American Legion building was town owned and sits right in the middle of Glenville Green.

“We’re looking at expanding use of the American Legion building – not to displace the current use of the building for veterans and scout programs,” she said, adding they’d like to use the building to showcase local history, and possibly add a patio area to create a gathering spot.

Finally, the task force would like to add more “ornamental” traffic signal poles, for less of an urban/industrial feel.

“Watch for the announcement of our kick off community event,” Matrunich said.

Glenville Pizza is celebrating its 45th year in business.
Parking outside Glenville Pizza.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Frank Ferraro, who owns Glenville Pizza, situated on a sharp curve at 243 Glenville Rd with his father Vincent, said they had been serving the community for 45 years.

He said he was concerned that parking for his business be preserved. He said there are just two striped parking spaces in front, but that people do park creatively beyond them.

“If our parking was taken away, it would hurt is,” he said. “We would hope that you would keep us in consideration with plans moving forward.”

The most dangerous part of the corridor is the intersection with Pemberwick Rd by the pizzeria.

Town Planner Katie DeLuca said DPW was running the CMAQ grant and had been “very vocal” about how parking would impact the restaurant.

“It is absolutely on everyone’s radar, right at the top of the list,” she said. “We’re all in favor of making sure there is appropriate parking there.”

Constance Hewitt asked about traffic near intersection near Stop & Shop and River Run Condominium. She said the condos have a shared driveway and it was already difficult to turn left to head to the Merritt Parkway.

“There is a new luxury apartment complex being erected. The office space has been repurposed for residential and there will be more cars coming out and trying to make a left,” she said, adding that residents would be moving in in June.

DeLuca said the traffic plan had been examined extensively and verified, and that P&Z was convinced there would be an overall improvement.

She said P&Z intensively scrutinized the traffic study, and it was verified by both the Dept of Public Works and an independent third party traffic consultant. She said all parties agreed it would be an improvement to the driveway over when it was office space.

DeLuca also said part of the project, funded through the CMAQ grant, involved the coordination of the timing for the traffic lights, and that they can be adjusted.

“At the end of the day this whole corridor should function much better,” DeLuca said.

Judy Eng who lives on Weaver Street near its intersection with Glenville Road, said she was surprised to learn about plans to widen her street. Also, she said the trees were still marked for removal, and that’s why she thought Glenville Rd was to be widened, not Weaver.

Deputy Dept of Public Works commissioner Jim Michel said the widening on Weaver will be “fairly minimal.” He said it would come “a little bit off both sides,” staying within the Town’s right of way.

“The intent there is to add a separate lane for the left and right turn lanes coming off Weaver Street,” he explained, apologizing that the tree postings had not been removed.

Chief Heavey said earlier in the evening the American Legion had held a classic car show on Glenville Green, and a good time for newcomers to get more familiar with Glenville would be at the annual Glenville Memorial Day Parade that runs from Walker Court to the fire house.

The parade, organized by the Glenville Fire Dept and 9th District Veterans is set for Sunday May 30 at 5:00pm. It has been held since 1947.

“It is that village, small town American type of thing,” Heavey said.

As for complaints of speeding, he said the Northwest Greenwich Association had donated speed cameras, and that the Strategic Traffic Enforcement Plan (STEP) program organizes enforcement based on accident information.

He said Riversville Rd is a popular area for speeders and police do try to address it.

“If you have a particular traffic complaint, call the chief’s office or the traffic division and let us know what time of the day and we’ll try to address it,” Heavey said, adding that in CT it is illegal to give speeding tickets based on a camera recording. “It has to be officers observation and it has to be on a radar unit or a laser unit that is certified.”

He said the number one complaint he receives are about speeding cars.

Donna Saia Davis said she lived at the upper part of the park and walked by the Civic Center. She said she’d like to see improvements in that area. She noted there is a problem with people speeding on Hawthorne Street North.

Heavey said they had also talked about lighting in the upper part of the park. “It is dark on those stone steps up there,” he noted.

“That’s something the task force could incorporate into its initiatives with town and volunteer groups,” said P&Z commission chair Margarita Alban.

Mr. Michel said that area was beyond the scope of the project.

However, he said, “It’s definitely something we can take a look at. If you have specific issues with infrastructure in town, send an email to [email protected] That goes into our general mailbox and we distribute it to the necessary parties. Normally someone will get back to you in fairly quick manner.”

Steve Hall asked about plans for the Glenville Post Office and Stop & Shop, which he described as “disheveled.”

“The owner is difficult to get a hold of,” said Abbe Large of the Beautification Task Force.

Mr. Hall said that if improved, that property could be an asset to Glenville.

Adele Rota said drivers frequently drive the wrong way up Glen Ridge Road, which is one way heading down the hill to Glenville Street. Chief Heavey said his officers would take note.

Donna Gaudioso Zeale asked about improving access to the water behind the fire station to The Mill, and beautifying the triangles off the Merritt Parkway where people arrive in Glenville.

Chief Heavey said as the result of an Eagle Scout project several years ago, there was an “unimproved path” along the river from behind the fire house to Pemberwick Rd. He described it as “very rudimentary and not handicapped accessible.”

Chief Heavey noted that the triangles off the Merritt were state property, but there might be an opportunity to work with the state to arrange to beautify them.

Mary Hull, the director of Greenwich Green & Clean, said she would love to see a walking path cleared from the fire house toward The Mill and the waterfall. She said there was poison ivy and invasives, but that they could be cleared.

“We need to get DPW to break through the wall between the parking lot and the river so that you can walk, and put a ton of wood chips there, which are free,” Hull said. “And we can clear. I’d love to see a path wind its way through.”

Ms Hull said she was thrilled at the creation of the Beautification Task Force and that it was lovely to see friendships form as a result.

See also:

Glenville Rd Corridor: Weird Geometry, Missing Sidewalks, 15,000 Vehicles a Day

Below are summaries of the Glenville Traffic Corridor improvements March 2019

Improvements proposed for intersection of Glenville Street and Riversville Road.