Frank thoughts on the need for a new East Milton restaurant

Commentary by Frank Schroth

Last Friday the Falconis along with their attorney Marion McEttrick held a public meeting to discuss their proposal for a restaurant for East Milton and receive community feedback (see related post here). Ms. McEttrick reviewed the plan, which calls for a 160-seat high end restaurant at the location of the old Milton Cinema. They have plans to create a parking lot on Church Street, which together with their existing lot will provide ~60 spaces. It is a good plan, and while there are some legitimate concerns, they should not be showstoppers to a business that can bring the square and the town benefits that matter.

First, regarding traffic, it is not an issue as it relates to the plans for this restaurant. If successful, the patronage may create some inconvenience for neighborhood residents just as Steel & Rye does on the west side of town. Is it going to be the traffic Armageddon described by neighbors at the meeting on Friday? No.

There is no question that East Milton has a traffic problem, but this business, and if it goes forward (pray to God), will not move the needle on that traffic meter one way of the other. First, the traffic it generates will largely be after hours when the primary thoroughfares of Granite Ave and Adams Street are clear. Second, the reason we have a traffic problem in East Milton is that we have an expressway running through it. More specifically, we have on and off ramps. Traffic has often been described as a flow of water – stop it up in one place and it will flow to another. Well, consider on and off ramps like drains; that is where it all gets sucked up or pumped out. The restaurant’s presence will not change that.

Parking is more likely to be an issue. However, plans are in place to address it as described above. The Falconis are in discussion with Vance Welch who owns Abby Park on the impact it will have on his business (i.e. Abby Park uses a Facloni lot). In fact, while it is mere speculation, there is a chance that Mr. Welch will operate both restaurants and they might share parking. Separately, Mr. Welch is discussing a parking arrangement with Sovereign Bank and has one with Citizens Bank. It’s an issue and it is being managed.

Similarly, noise and light could be issues; but, again, these are solvable problems.

The benefits? First, commercial and meals tax and second, commercial and meals tax. This business is going into a commercially zoned district by a known developer and is possibly going to be managed by a known restauranteur. It will inject sorely needed energy into what one business owner in the square characterized as a stale district. The footprint and height will remain the same. The benefits to the square specifically, and the town in general, are significant. The impact to the neighborhood negligible.

The town is seeing an opportunity for commercial development at the site of the Hendries building disappear for reasons that we may never understand. That is a loss as is any opportunity to lighten the load of property taxes on Milton homeowners. It is one thing to raise a ruckus over the possible expansion of businesses into residential neighborhoods; it is a bit rich to fight commercial development and renewal in an established commercial district. To shrink the commercial tax base in this community makes no sense.

Tonight the Board of Appeals will hold a hearing on the proposal for a restaurant. The issue before them will be the adequacy of the parking. They have discretion on this issue. We sincerely hope the board determines the plans the Falconis have put in place to be sufficient and that they look at the facts, the industry standards, and rule accordingly.

  6 comments for “Frank thoughts on the need for a new East Milton restaurant

  1. Martha Cosgrove
    November 18, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    I was unable to attend the meeting at Milto Arts Council…however, as a lifetime Mklton resident I fully support the proposed new restaurant in Est Milton Square. The world did not end when Abby Park arrived, and an added restaurant, along with added revenues for the town…how is that a bad thing ? The Falconi businesses have been in East Milton Sq for years and I do not think they would do anything to jeopardize the future of Milton….more parking is needed, yes…but if all work together then a solution can be reached.

  2. Sheryl Fleitman
    November 18, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    The town will benefit from another restaurant in East Milton. Along with this comes responsibility, which include increased enforcement of current parking rules; safety measures for children getting to school. All these are needed and the town should be working on this now. Every amenity has a cost. East Milton should not bear the brunt.

  3. Linda Cooper
    November 18, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    The only problem I have with this restaurant is that it’s going to be high end. Too bad no one can run a restaurant that would cater to families. My kids don’t belong in S&R, AP or 88 wharf. It would be great to have a family friendly neighborhood restaurant sans the high end price tag. Diversity is a good thing.

  4. Dick Burke
    November 18, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Regardless of whether this restaurant goes forward, the traffic, parking enforcement and safety issues deserve a comprehensive review and plan for East Milton Square. The restaurant will add to the revitalization of the Square and increase tax revenues.
    I hope the restaurant moves forward but if it doesn’t t the problems still deserve attention.

  5. Jim Finnigan
    November 18, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    I agree Dick that a another restaurant may be a good idea but long term issues with the square must be dealt with too! Our sidestreets are pretty dangerous when people who use them as cut throughs, driving at breakneck speeds, running stop signs and such. Throwing more traffic on the sidestreets wont make that any better – especially on Church and Franklin streets . Please remember that we live here 24/7 and this or any development represents a quality of life us both positive and negative. I myself don’ t care to see housing torn down to make parking because the square is a mix of business and residence and we risk losing that mix if we are not careful. It’s not just about tax revenues and fine dining.

  6. Dick Burke
    November 19, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Jim, I have not seen a traffic study, that I am assuming has been commissioned by the developer, but I have heard that traffic per se , is not the major issue. I agree that long term and long standing issues regarding traffic in East Milton need to be addressed but opposing this project is not, in my opinion, the best way of accomplishing this.
    Part of Milton ‘s charm and it’s problem is that on one hand residents are against any new mixed use but support existing non conforming uses I.e. residential buildings in a commercially zoned area,Which leads to a schizophrenic town planning strategy.
    The houses in question are transplants and a result of the digging up of the Square for the Expressway, and were moved to a parking lot in a commercially zoned a result I don’t have the same fondness as I do for other East Milton residential properties.
    As we face , yet another operating override, I agree this is not about fine dining but it is about tax revenues.

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