By Carley Dangona
AGAWAM – Scott Petlock, a potential buyer for the long vacant Games & Lanes building, stepped forward to discuss his plans for the site – upon the approval of a Mixed Use Business District – at the City Council’s May 19 public hearing.
Many residents spoke in favor of the zoning change proposal; none voiced opposition. During the hearing, Petlock spoke about his plan to create an indoor go-cart track if he were to obtain the building. The council approved the first reading. If it approves the second reading at its June 2 meeting, then the ordinance will become official.
“I love this area; I love the people,” Petlock said. “You can’t find a better place to do this in.”
Petlock said he has been interested in the Agawam location for a while. He was considering a site in Vernon, Conn., a few years ago, but it collapsed due to the 2011 winter weather.
He invited the council and the residents to visit http://newenglandgokartevents.com
to learn more about his business. He hosts regular events in Loudon, N.H., and at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn.
“I want to make this place gorgeous,” Petlock, a long-time citizen of Springfield, said. He plans to leave the center of the floor plan open so guests can host special events. He explained that he has go-karts that are remote controlled so seniors or those with special needs can enjoy the fun too.
“Racing is the most exciting thing you could ever do,” he said.
Corinne Wingard, Agawam native and member of the Community Preservation Act Committee
, said, “There’s no detriment whatsoever to implement this zoning change. There is nothing to lose and much to gain.” She referred to the motion as an “ordinance of opportunity.”
Deborah Dachos, director of Planning & Community Development
, referenced the 2010 study the town conducted, which recognized Walnut Street Extension as “the number one priority” for improvement.
“This isn’t just a standalone project,” Dachos said, adding that the zoning would serve as a model for other sections of Agawam.
The zoning would allow businesses and residential dwellings to exist within a single area. The district would be bordered by Walnut Street Extension and the Agawam Shopping Center.
Initially, Councilor Robert Rossi didn’t support the motion.
“I look at this visionary that you have there. I don’t think it’ll happen. I want to see some concrete plans,” Rossi said. He stated that other projects had come before the council requesting zoning changes and then never came to fruition.
“That gentleman [Petlock] can’t do what he wants without this zoning in place,” Council President Christopher Johnson said. “This is the lynch pin to the Games & Lanes site.”
Johnson explained that Mayor Richard Cohen has committed to addressing the site by the end of 2014. If a private developer has not stepped forward by the end of this calendar year, then the town will take over the project – an option that will cost taxpayers.
“OK, you’ve got my vote. I’ll give it a chance,” Rossi said in response.