Monday night, owner Frank Maratta shared his hopes to add a pool, deck and cabana to to the Planning and Zoning Commission, saying the additions would bring a “resort feel” to Mago Point.
Maratta explained in the pre-application meeting that the pool would be five-feet deep, at most, and be an attraction that would draw people from Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York. He added that Mago Point is a “diamond in the rough” and this pool and cabana will “put a different light on it.”
But the town was hardly ready to dive right in. Waterford Police Chief Murray Pendleton voiced concerns in an interview with Patch, and Waterford Planning Director Tom Wagner questioned the project as well.
“That’s exceptionally high risk,” said Pendleton, who did agree that Mago Point is far from reaching its potential. “I appreciate (Maratta’s) creativity, but I’m not sure this is the way to go.”
The Monday meeting was a pre-application meeting, meaning Maratta did not submit official plans, but instead met with the Planning and Zoning Commission to garner feedback from its members. The commission members expressed mixed feelings about the proposal, and Chairman Edwin Maguire said getting approval would be difficult.
“It might be a tough sell,” Maguire said.
Maratta is planning to build a cabana, bathrooms, another deck and a pool off of the current deck at the property, in the spot where motorcycles often park. Maratta said he has seen pools at bars in Florida and Texas, but this would be the first one in Connecticut.
There would be a new entrance built to the restaurant, where on the ground floor there would be bathrooms where people would have to shower before getting in the pool, Maratta said. Above those bathrooms there would be a deck surrounding a five-foot deep pool and a cabana, he said.
The pool would have LED lighting that would change the color of the water, and the entire section would be built and landscaped to create a resort-like atmosphere, Maratta said. If built, it would be a draw for people from Long Island, Fishers Island, Rhode Island and from around the state, he said.
“It’s going to portray a fun atmosphere, without a doubt,” Maratta said. “A resort, fun atmosphere. That’s what we want.”
If it was built, Sunset Ribs would be able to open during the day on weekdays, something it doesn’t do now, Maratta said. The unique development would help every business in Mago Point, and help an area that is in desperate need of attention, he said.
“We’ve been forgotten about (in Mago Point),” Maratta said. “It’s a diamond in the rough.”
Wagner said he didn’t think the pool fits into the town’s zoning regulations. Sunset Ribs sits in the waterfront district zone, which does allow for “swimming pools and swimming clubs,” according to the town’s zoning regulations.
Wagner said though the primary use of Sunset Ribs is a bar and restaurant, and this would be adding another primary use, which isn’t allowed. Accessory uses are allowed, but Wagner said he didn’t think an accessory use for a bar is a pool.
Pendleton has his own concerns regarding public safety. He said the area is a “high-traffic area,” and a pool would be a danger.
“We talk about putting something in harm's way, it seems to me that pool would be very high risk from a traffic standpoint,” Pendleton said.
Pendleton said that he has never heard of a pool at a bar, and said it would be “exceptionally high risk.” He said drinking and glassware would both be problems.
“I don’t know of any scenario like this in the state,” Pendleton said. “I can imagine glassware would be an issue, intoxication could be an issue.”
Maratta said “he was having a hard time” with the public safety issues, as pools at bars exist throughout the world. He said he would meet with his engineer and try to make everybody comfortable with the idea.
“I think we have to talk about it,” said Maratta, who didn’t give a timeline of when or if he would formally submit an application. “I don’t know if I was totally shut off (by the board on Monday), I did hear some positives. And we have to address all their concerns.”