July 15, 2006
By MARYELLEN FILLO, Courant Staff Writer
WETHERSFIELD -- When it comes to getting around, the town has some new wheels that officials hope will literally bring tourists to the town's historic district.
A new trolley-bus, designed to transport conventioneers and their families from Hartford to Old Wethersfield and back, will be unveiled Monday at 6:15 p.m. at the town hall parking lot.
"It will allow us to tap into the potential pool of tourists who are at the nearby convention center," said Mayor Russ Morin, who along with other officials will participate in the trolley's inaugural run Monday. "It's a nice addition to the town."
The town's economic development and improvement commission, the local chamber of commerce and volunteers and community groups banded together to contract with Double A Transportation of Rocky Hill for the themed trolley, which sports a façade featuring the historic buildings and sites in Old Wethersfield. Plans are to contract with tour groups that arrange day trips for visiting conventioneers at the greater Hartford Convention Center and offer day tours that would include visits to the town's many historic sites including the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum and Solomon Welles House, as well as the restaurants and stores located in the historic village.
"The convention center people told us if we wanted to market to people visiting the center we had to come up with some transportation, and we did," said town manager Bonnie Therrien. The town manager said Hartford visitors who wanted to take a tour of Wethersfield would pay a fee to the tour operator. Spending for dining, shopping and visits to local sights would bring money into town.
Double A can use the trolley in other parts of the state when it is not being used between Wethersfield and Hartford; however, the town can also use the vehicle for special programs and holiday events.
"We've been working on this for several years," said town planner Peter Gillespie, who said several town volunteers also worked on the project to bring it to fruition.
H. Scott Phelps, head of the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said Wethersfield is the first Hartford suburb to arrange for shuttle service.
"One of the selling points of our sales team is that when visiting Hartford it is easy to reach out to Connecticut history," he said. "Access to Old Wethersfield is a great new service and a good selling point."
"This is a giant step for us," added John Cascio, a council member and past president of the Wethersfield Chamber of Commerce. "Not only will it connect an identity to the town but will also serve as a beginning step toward attracting tourism from Hartford into our town."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at