Has mystical tourism passed a tipping point?

Has mystical tourism passed a tipping point?

I’m old enough to remember when downtown Mystic was a bit run down, much like me now, gray-haired and gray-haired.

What is now a beautiful waterfront park on the Stonington side was, in the late 1970s, a rambling collection of buildings that were a hardware store and lumber yard. The plywood was stored under open sheds along the river.

Across the street was one of the city’s main watering holes, an Irish bar with a pool table as its centerpiece. The dress code rarely rose above t-shirts and flannel.

Many of Mystic’s buildings were dilapidated by then, and some literally collapsed. Chipped paint all over town. The stores catered primarily to locals.

Some of the city’s most exciting new food choices came from the Mischievous Carrot, where vegetarian cuisine catered to patrons who at the time weren’t afraid to call themselves hippies.

The Halsey sisters were cultivating what then seemed like cosmopolitan new food options at their Two Sisters Deli, with dishes like smoked chicken in sour cream sauce.

A large restaurant, Bee Bee’s, with its special menu, a Bee Bee dog with chili and fries, dominated Main Street.

It would have been hard to imagine Mystic today, with tourists strolling side-by-side on sidewalks and lining up for tables at restaurants that serve $15 cocktails and $45 entrees. There is no peeling paint in sight.

I’ve heard from many people lately who believe that Mystic has passed a tipping point for uncontrollable growth, with what seems like explosive growth and more and more traffic issues year after year.

Currently there are two pending proposals to add new restaurants/bars on the Groton side, despite the general lack of parking in town. It would certainly be hard to say that there aren’t enough places in Mystic right now to buy a drink.

So I, too, might join those who suggest at least hitting the brakes, as Mystic evolves further into a touring juggernaut.

Still, I would consider myself generally agnostic about the commercial growth of Mystic, which has grown exponentially but is still far from being overrun and dominated by tourism like Newport is.

Maybe Mystic is still finding her successful new self.

“Mystic is becoming the place to be,” I overheard a new store clerk say to a customer the other day as a steady stream of customers came and went outside his door.

Popping seems like a good way to characterize what happened to Mystic, where lumber sheds on prized waterfront properties are a long time a thing of the past.

I think the growth and new development is completely organic and there is a clear lack of planning analysis on both sides of the river in the towns of Stonington and Groton which share control of the bustling little village .

I think voters in both cities should demand some accountability from the planners and politicians who hire them. There really is no plan to deal with growth, whether you think it’s a good thing or not.

The only type of combined planning for both sides of Mystic that I see comes from the chamber of commerce and, naturally, the philosophy there is pedal to the metal at all times.

It’s an election year for the General Assembly, and candidates looking to represent Groton and Mystic should have answers about where Mystic is heading and whether everyone is comfortable with it.

Not only is there little planning done by the two cities, but I don’t see much attention at the state government level. The state collects many taxes related to tourism and spends a large part of them on the promotion of tourism.

Much more attention needs to be paid to tourism infrastructure.

Consider that the next time you vote, or when you decide to turn around and go somewhere else, as heavy traffic in Mystic makes the Route 1 village that straddles the Stonington/Groton town limit impenetrable .

This Irish bar with a pool table, by the way, is long gone, buried by a bulldozer.

This is the opinion of David Collins

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