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Plenty of Names on Save the Ville Petition Submitted at Town Hall

Group got more than 2,000 signatures; town meeting required 1,700.

Save the Ville organizers turned in their petition on the New Britain Avenue traffic plan Monday with enough signatures to force a town meeting and plenty to spare.

The group, a close-knit bunch of Unionville residents, had worked tirelessly for the 20 days since the Town Council voted 4-3 to support the project. They were exultant in presenting more than 2,000 signatures, collected through hours of talking to residents in the Parson’s Hardware parking lot and at shops in the area.

They were also proud of their town.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my community for stepping up and saving the ville,” said Linda Gelineau, who lives on Wall Street.

“You’ve got to be proud of the residents of the town,” said Bernie Erickson, who sat on the Unionville Traffic Committee but resigned his position after the council vote. “We were speculating if we could get to 1,600 voters and we gave them over 2,000.”

Erickson said he was also proud of the way the small group had pulled together, some putting their lives on hold to work on the petition.

“These ladies here worked very hard to get these signatures,” Erickson said.

The effort was led by Stephanie Smith and Sue Anne Ward, both of whom live in the area that would be affected by the construction project. Ward spent the past 12 days in front of Parson’s Hardware explaining the project to people from Farmington, Avon and Burlington, as they drove by and stopped to find out what was going on. Most had never heard about the plan, she said.

And the response she got from them encouraged her to keep going.

“There was a man from the West Farms area who came and asked if he could sign. He wasn’t from Unionville, he was from Farmington… and he said ‘I didn’t think you wanted us on the list,” Ward said.

Another man from Farmington pulled up in a Jaguar and signed the petition.

“He said it’s not right for them to tear down these little businesses just because they don’t have as much money.”

And many offered help. Passersby will notice a huge “Save the Ville” sign plastered on the roof of McGillicuddy’s this morning, courtesy of a Farmington resident who manages a sign company.

Companions and Homemakers, on New Britain Avenue, paid for radio advertising spots about the project and brought the Save the Ville literature to Kinkos to make copies.

Asked why "saving the ville" was so important, the group at Town Hall teared up.

“There’s a group of about 2,000 of us … we support each other no matter what it is – a fundraiser, firemen’s parade, benefits – we’re always there for each other… if you go to one of these events you literally have 10 new friends,” Ward said.

Megan Parsons said it was upsetting to hear people say their corner of the village is ugly and needs to be torn down. But it’s not just the buildings that make it what it is.

“Most people know if they need something on a Sunday afternoon, they can get a hold of us,” Parsons said of her husband’s hardware business.

Ward said she was one example. After the storm, her basement was flooded with water, she called Parson’s and told them what she needed.

“He said Sas, what do you need? I told him I need a sump pump so big … and it was on my back step in 10 minutes,” she remembered.

Sharon Bonini said it’s a community where everyone knows each other and knew their grandparents, too.

“This will show people that you can make a difference, even if the odds are stacked against you,” said Linda Gelineau.

The Town Clerk’s office, with a staff of four, will begin certifying the names on the petition are registered Farmington voters. To get a special town meeting, the group must have 10 percent of those registered in town — about 1,700.

The count may be complete by the end of this week.

The meeting, according to town charter, must be held within 20 days of the petition filing. At the meeting, those in attendance can overturn the council vote with a majority, as long as more than 100 registered voters attend.

stephanie smith December 06, 2011 at 11:23 AM
Way to go Unionville!!
Mark Blore December 06, 2011 at 11:33 AM
Great Job!!
Elizabeth McNamara December 06, 2011 at 11:48 AM
Way to go. Proud to live in Unionville. Small town community, big town results.
Kerry December 06, 2011 at 12:15 PM
Great job! I keep hearing about the poosibility of a bridge connecting the town hall complex and the police station as the best solution. Is this a solution that is still on the table?
janet culver December 06, 2011 at 12:17 PM
Things like this is what living in a small town is all about! Thank you to all who worked so hard!
Sas December 06, 2011 at 12:48 PM
What a Wonderful Life !!!!!!
Matt Pogson December 06, 2011 at 01:38 PM
This was a fantastic effort and I’m proud to be part of such a strong community who supports their fellow businesses and neighbors. With that said my only concern now is that enough people will show up to the meeting to get the amount of votes we need to overturn this ridiculous plan. Then if we are successful we will need another solution to the traffic problem. Everyone has spoken out about how this plan is not the right solution but I think we can all agree we would like to see less traffic congestion in the center of Unionville. So now we need to figure out what is the right solution and we obviously need different people on the traffic commission to figure this out. We need people who have the best interest of the town and their neighbors and people who can think outside the box and aren’t just looking to spend a ton of money. In short I hope the new “Ville Coalition” is ready to have a hand in the next step and maybe work collaboratively with the traffic commission to find a more reasonable solution to our traffic issue.
Kay Higgins December 06, 2011 at 01:50 PM
It's good to see Democracy in action. What are the alternative plans?
Joe Pelehach December 06, 2011 at 02:03 PM
It is nice to see that this issue will get a second look. I have traveled over the bridge, turning left onto NB Ave. for 25 years now. The first thing that they should consider is having the traffic light run a double arrow in the high traffic times. Let northbound traffic turn BEFORE the southbound traffic starts; and then again at the end of the cycle to clear the intersection. The second thing they need to do is position a light pole in front of the bar so that southbound traffic can see when they have an arrow. People sit under that light sometime for nearly the entire arrow cycle not knowing that the northbound traffic must stop. The one thing that is obvious is that changes must be made. Traffic moves like water; it takes the path of least resistance. So, that puts dramatically more traffic on neighborhood streets that weren't designed to carry the level of traffic that they do. Farmington and Unionville are the main artery for traffic leaving I 84 heading into the far western parts of Hartford County and the Litchfield hills. As those communities continue to grow; the traffic situation will continue to worsen.
stephanie smith December 06, 2011 at 02:54 PM
I loved hearing all the communities ideas!! None of them relocated streets or took properties, but all made sense. Jp, were had people saying the same things!! The synchronized pedestrian cross walks on opposite sides of the bridge doesn't help traffic. The green arrow FIRST was mentioned a lot.
Randy Wallace December 07, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Wonder if consideration is being made to buy these parcels such as when the town bailed out the farms and bought them?????? Any discussions been made regarding this???
Sas December 10, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Randy I am interested in what you are talking about. Could you elaborate?
Andrea Luty December 13, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Great work - wished I could sign, but not from Farmington - did drive through Unionville couple of weeks ago and very impressed with all the people and signs. Good Luck to you all.

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