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New Mystic Planter Gets Mixed Reviews From Locals

Mystic's history inspired the creation of the new planter outside of Bank Square Books, but not everyone thinks it belongs in present day downtown Mystic.

When a big green planter materialized outside of Bank Square Books a couple of weeks ago it stopped some people in their tracks.

Many locals had no idea it was coming.

“I hope you do a story on the fountain/planter/statue/monstrosity that is in front of Bank Square Books,” Sally Halsey posted on the Stonington-Mystic Patch Facebook page. “The town is wondering who chose it, where it came from, and when will ‘they’ decide it's too big and unattractive!”

The statute, which many mistook as a fountain, is actually a planter that at some point will have plants.

“Just noticed it yesterday as I drove through town,” Michele Peters wrote on the Groton Patch Facebook page. “It does stand out because of the bold green color.”

The Town of Groton had the planter installed as part of the ongoing Mystic Streetscape Project, the  $3.6 million plan . Boston-based landscape architecture Kyle Zick, who did the designs for both the Stonington and Groton sides of the Mystic Streetscape Project said a photograph of a water trough for horses inspired the creation of planter.

Zick who also did the Beacon Street Streetscape Project in Brookline, Mass., looked through the Mystic River Historical Society’s Images of America: Mystic book for reference during the creation of the streetscape design. On page 79 of the book is a photograph of the horse-watering fountain. According to the Mystic River Historical Society the fountain stood in the intersection of West Main and Water Street in the early 1900s.

While Mystic’s past inspired the present day fountain not everyone thinks it belongs.

“Honestly...its a little over the top,” Nancy Gerrish Clang wrote on the Groton Patch Facebook page. "Doesn't really fit the location...maybe the center of Mystic River Park would have been better."

Other commenters felt whale better reflects the area’s history and also wondered if the whale was staying with the planter.

“A little too much with the whale and fountain,” Sherry Cutler wrote on the Groton Patch Facebook page. “Maybe move the whale? Wondering.... who paid for it....after the mess with the roads this summer?”

A group of downtown Mystic businesses own the Mystic whale, and according to Bank Square Books the whale is not going anywhere.

At some point, however, Mystic Streetscape Project Manager Rick Norris said there would be the addition of a sign that talked about the historical reference of the fountain.

Maybe in a few months everyone will get use to the planter and we won’t even notice it.

“Haven’t paid attention...Just know that the sliding wall is super great for visitors to rest while visiting and enjoy the goings on,” Marie Tyler Wiley wrote on the Stonington-Mystic Patch Facebook page.

Joel October 12, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Quite frankly, I like it. nice addition to a Victorian era seaport town. The locals circa 1890 would have loved it!
Bree Shirvell October 12, 2012 at 02:27 PM
A few people have asked about the John Kelly staute, here is an update on that from Tuesday's Groton Town Council meeting via the Groton Patch: The Groton Town Council decided Tuesday it supports locating the John Kelley Memorial at the parklet at the corner of Route 1 and Bank Street in downtown Mystic. The site looks down West Main Street and Town Manger Mark Oefinger said there may be room to the side of the patio area for the statute, according to the meeting minutes. A landscape architect for the streetscape project is also reviewing the plans, the minutes said.
FJS October 12, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Joel, we get that you like (only one on here that seems to have that opinion)! I am guessing you are either on the committee or are lobbying to be the one to maintain it at a cost to the town, but as someone who remembers downtown without the tourist element, it was even more quaint and pleasant-going to the theater on a Saturday was great fun and shopping at the 5 &10 always had a special surprise because there were inexpensive toys kids could enjoy. Those days are gone, but why try to make a silk purse out of a sows ear that no one who is paying for it likes? Dumb!
Genevieve Triplett October 12, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I would love to spearhead a residents petition for relocation or return. The streetscape project was fought tooth and nail by the merchants, some merchants, not all. For timelyness issues and distrutions to local traffic flow.The local Government told us to but out after the tax payers paid 50,000 for free parking. What more do we want the project still isn't completed...Now the residents need to form a group to seek explaination on who, when, how, where were these decisions made and how much did it cost you and me! I will like to address that phase two for Water St. Was approved and will cost tax payers money. Leave Mystic alone! Go spend money on the Groton school system instead! Damn fools!
Molly B October 12, 2012 at 06:49 PM
@Genevieve--I totally agree! The entire streetscape project was wasted money. Now it's next to impossible to park downtown, and the sidewalks are ridiculously wide. They distract from the charm of a community that's pretty much gone to the dogs. @Anna Maria--let's not forget Ted's Pizza, Valenti's Carwash, Bendette's clothing, Chuck's Steakhouse, Mystic Sporting Goods, the Potpourri, and sorely-missed BeeBee's Dairy! Those were some mighty fine establishments--too bad they're gone!
Joel October 12, 2012 at 07:54 PM
FJS, you would be guessing wrong. I am not affialiated with the town nor am I lobbying for anything. I am busy enough as it is. I am merely stating my honest opinion. The sidewalks needed to be redone if not for beautification then from an infrastructure/safety perspective. The underground utilities are an undeniable improvement, no more ugly wires an transformers destroying the view. The streetlights are another undeniable improvement unless you are a fan of the CL&P monstrosities hanging from the creosote poles. As to the planter, it really is a metter of taste. I like it and think it is historically appropriate to a New England Victorian village. That's what Mystic is after all. A sow's ear, I think not. I am sorry that is the way you see our beautiful town. BTW, I have been here long enough to remember taking my boots to the cobbler on West Main...
Joel October 12, 2012 at 07:56 PM
It's easy to park downtown, I do it every day. The streetscape was money well spent and a definite improvement.
Joel October 12, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Was this local tax $$$ or stimulus money from the Feds?
Joel October 12, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Gaye, I really think that people are overreacting to the planter. I don't think maintainig the planter is going to be that big a deal. I don't think the planter is a monstrosity. It will be beautiful in the spring and summer. There are still many reasons to come to mystic to shop. First of all it is our town. Second, there are some great shops in Mystic. Catherine M, Company of Craftsmen, Goldsmiths & Silversmiths and many more. Not to mention great restaurants from AJ's to the Oyster Club. I for one count my blessings for being able to live in a beautiful place like this...
Joel October 12, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Disagree...
Joel October 12, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Sally, make a suggestion. Tossing stuff in the river is not a solution.
Joel October 12, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Cynthia, matter of opinion and taste. I like it. Walk there everyday... W. Main, docks, Water, Pearl, Gravel.... We live in a beautiful place. Streetscape is an improvement as far as I am concerned.
Genevieve Triplett October 12, 2012 at 11:38 PM
The feds paid for 80% the town tax payers, not state, paid for 20%. 3.6 million dollar project....700,000 for the Town of Groton residents. Phase Two is a seperate stimulus package with a price tag of roughly a million dollars, leaveing $200,000 left for the residents to pay. The mill rate jumped 7% this tax year. The Town has also proposed an 11 million dollar bond for ROADS that is on this election ballot. Need I say more, we need the village these people are posting about the one I love, not more construction.
Joel October 12, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Give the dough to the schools like you said. Mystic doesn't deserve it. Waste of funds.
Joel October 13, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Hooray Obama I guess?
Genevieve Triplett October 13, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Do not get me started on woman's rights. Seriously.
Blink October 14, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Joel, some people are so miserable nothing would make them happy. Hence......
Ben Greenfield October 14, 2012 at 11:21 AM
First of all, I have not heard mention of Mystic Garden Club. Are they responsible for the planter? If so, do they have a plan? And to the cynics, just think about the little tree in Charlie Brown's Christmas. Things will be ok.
Joel October 14, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Mystic gets a beautiful streetscape and much needed infrastructure repair and all that is said here are complaints and criticism. I don't get it. Most towns get behind projects like this and come together. But, when all is said and done, it is a good thing. And as far as anyone spearheading a return of the planter, I think that there might be a little opposition.
Joel October 14, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Maybe Bank Square Books would like to volunteer to take care of the planter. They benefit most from the area in front of the bookstore they referred to as "Piaza dei Pettini ". Remember the sign in their window...
Joel October 14, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Quick question... You said "the town tax payers, not state, paid for 20%." From The Mystic River Press dated July 25, 2012 about the Mystic Streetscape Phase II: "Functionally, the agreement would secure the $1.2 million in total funding for the project, 80 percent of which would come from the federal government, with a 20 percent local contribution to be paid for out of so-called "LoCIP" funds provided by the state to the town for capital improvements annually." Is this incorrect?
MPM October 14, 2012 at 05:26 PM
The title of this article says "mixed reviews"... with the exception of Joel and one or two others, I see an overwhelming disapproval of the fountain. It's too big, too bright and I, too would be interested to know who picked it and how much it cost (and will cost) and what the plans are (and whose plans are they) moving forward, for planting and maintenance. Bank Street Books does enough as one of the anchors and major shopping draws for downtown, now they're supposed to volunteer to water/plant/weed the thing? There used to be a lovely tree in this location that made the corner a shady place on a hot day for the occasional shopper to pause, or to meet up with fellow shoppers. Looking forward to the sign... not.
Joel October 14, 2012 at 05:41 PM
It's Bank Square Books, and I was just kidding about them maintaining the planter (not the fountain). I would be willing to bet their are a lot more supporters out there of the planter and once it is full of colorful flowers in the spring it will be beautiful. Again, it is very appropriate for a New England Victorian village. It is what citizens of Mystic circa 1890 would have loved! BTW, the streetscape was designed by Kyle Zick. Does very good work. http://www.kylezick.com
Joel October 14, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Oh, and I don't think 11 people on this forum actually constitute "an overwhelming disapproval of the fountain (planter)". Overwhelming on "Patch", OK...
Joel October 14, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Just a quick comment on the "ridiculously wide" sidewalks. The design of the downtown Mystic streetscape incorporates a concept called "traffic calming". The definition: Traffic calming is a system of design and management strategies that aim to balance traffic on streets with other uses. It is founded on the idea that streets should help create and preserve a sense of place, that their purpose is for people to walk, stroll, look, gaze, meet, play, shop and even work alongside cars – but not dominated by them.
MPM October 14, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I'm sure Zick does lovely work - too bad so few tax paying Mystic residents were consulted about what they wanted. I don't need to repeat what the entire project has done to downtown business owners - many of whom are friends. My family settled in Mystic in 1865, and having family diaries from that era (and the 1890s), I can assure you that while Victorian era tastes may have run to that monstrosity, New England values did not. Too bad the original trough wasn't simply replicated, but I"m sure visitors will enjoy the signs and placards apparently necessary to explain it all.
Joel October 14, 2012 at 07:10 PM
We have a nice streetscape design designed by a well chosen designer. What you would be referring to by getting many opinions involved in design would be design by committee. Design by committee is a term referring to a style of design and its resultant output when a group of entities comes together to produce something, particularly in the presence of poor leadership. The defining characteristics of "design by committee" are needless complexity, internal inconsistency, logical flaws, banality, and the lack of a unifying vision. (from wikipedia) I am in the design business, and believe me, consulting many Mystic taxpayers would not have resulting in a better project. Only more infighting and delays. I disagree, the planter is not a monstrosity, and fits in very nicely with New England values. My family has been in this part of the world since 1770. We, as New Englanders, have always embraced ideas and design both old and new. This is an old design that is both appropriate, and to some, a welcome addition that will be a beautiful, colorful, overflowing distraction for tourists and locals alike...
Molly B October 14, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Okay, Joel, we get it--and judging by the number of people who have commented, the general consensus is that the streetscape is overdone and overpriced--at the taxpayers' expense. With so many pressing items on Groton's list of "things to do," the streetscape seems miniscule by anyone's standards. The "powers that be" should have left things alone and focused their attention on more pressing matters...such as property values, taxes, and the mill rate.
Joel October 14, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Molly B, your right, downtown would have been better off left alone. Fine the way it was, sidewalks were fine, streetlight were beautiful, God it was heaven! No progress is the only way to go. Overpriced... Local taxpayers foot a minimal bill. Feds paid, State paid. Of course we all pay overall. But look at the benefits. Downtown is beautiful. It is going to be good for all of us in the long term. Can't you see?
Joel October 14, 2012 at 08:37 PM
The more people have, the less they appreciate it...

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