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Article Published June 11, 2019
Free Trolley Service to Link Outlets to Clinton’s Other Attractions
Eric O’Connell, Staff Reporter

Make way—the Clinton Trolley is officially coming through. Starting Friday, June 28, the free-to-ride vehicle will begin making its way around town, linking visitors to the outlet mall with many of Clinton’s other attractions.

The trolley will run from Friday to Sunday for 10 weekends this summer. The hours of operation will be from 5 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1 to 7 p.m. on Sundays. The trolley will make eight stops: Clinton Crossings Premium Outlets, the train station, the marina area, the downtown (labeled the Arts District) at Liberty Green, the Stop & Shop plaza, the ShopRite plaza, and a stop near the Westbrook line. It will take approximately 30 minutes to make all the stops each way.

While the shuttle will be free to ride, and thus won’t provide direct revenue to the town, the hope is that it will be a fun way to encourage people to spend time in other sections of the town.

“Anything we can do to showcase Clinton to people outside of Clinton and show our town and businesses is good,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Paul Orsini. “I think there’s people who might say, ‘Hey, let’s jump on the trolley and go to dinner or go downtown.’”

Economic Development Commission (EDC) Chairman John Allen shed some light on the background of the project.

“This has been a long time coming. People have been talking about getting a shuttle for some time,” said Allen.

Allen said that after some internal EDC dialog about making the shuttle a reality and conversations with the Clinton Pacemakers and Clinton Chamber of Commerce, the group approached 9 Town Transit (9TT), the region’s public transportation provider. Allen said 9TT Executive Director Joe Comerford supported the idea and told the Clinton groups what it would cost to operate and decorate the bus, which could be done through selling advertisements on the outside and inside of the vehicle.

Allen said that Douglas Dobriner, one of the owners of the property at 30 Old Post Road, learned that the EDC was interested in acquiring a trolley. According to Allen, Dobriner was in the possession of a trolley that he was trying to donate and connected with 9TT to donate the trolley.

Dobriner is part of a group called Old Post Road Realty, LLC, which has met with the EDC about possibly putting forward an application to build a recreation center on the site of 30 Old Post Road. A previous application for a waste recycling center to be built on the property was met by intense opposition by many in town.

Allen said that while he understood that some may be wary of the donation, nothing nefarious was occurring.

“There’s nothing the EDC can do or is doing for them. We can’t vote. We assist with bringing businesses in, we just help with navigating the inland wetlands, planning and zoning, and Board of Selectmen process and making sure they don’t miss a deadline or something.”

“I think it’s a wonderful benefit to the local business owners to transport people back-and-forth and to expose them to other areas of the town they might not normally have been into,” said First Selectman Christine Goupil. “I thank 9TT service for helping support and in providing the service to our town the and Economic Development Commission and Placemakers and of course the folks from Old Post Road Realty that have donated it.”

Allen said that organizers would try to find a way to collect some data on ridership of the trolley to see how many people ride it and where they like to get on or off.

Allen said that Police Chief Vincent DeMaio helped select the stops for the trolley and that Rob Acampora helped with the design of the trolley. Allen said that the town has already alerted 9TT, which will house the trolley when its not in use, that the town would like to use it for its annual Christmas in Clinton event in December.

“I’m just really happy with it,” Allen said.