Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.12, Issue 4

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.

Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center
CMSC Hosting Final Complete Streets Workshop 


In just a few short weeks, Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) will host its third Complete Streets workshop as part of its Downtown Revitalization Institute.  The final session, being held on November 2nd in Hartford, will focus on what it takes to implement Complete Streets. CMSC is also partnering with the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (CCAPA) to provide continuing education credits for this event.

In 2009, Connecticut passed a law requiring roads utilizing state funds be safe for all users - what's known as a "Complete Street". The purpose of a Complete Street is to design a road that accommodates everyone - not just cars, but pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. 

To help make municipalities aware of this legislation and how to implement it, CMSC felt it necessary to hold a series of workshops on this topic. The first of the Complete Streets workshops provided an overview of the new law, including what makes a Complete Street and why they are good for communities. The second workshop focused on how to design a Complete Street. 

During the upcoming third workshop, speakers from Connecticut and around the country will discuss what it takes to engage public and private stakeholders, providing case studies and examples on creating a supportive regulatory framework.  In addition, there will be presentations on the benefits and return on investment as a result of Complete Streets, as well as insight on how to obtain funding for these projects.

For more information and to register for the November 2nd workshop, click here.

SNEAPA Conference a Smashing Success 


The Southern New England American Planning Association (SNEAPA) recently held its annual regional planning conference, Planning at the Crossroads. The late September event was sponsored by the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island chapters of the American Planning Association. The three states take turns hosting the annual event; this year was Connecticut's turn, with the conference taking place in Hartford. CMSC's own Susan Westa was part of the planning committee that coordinated this highly successful event.


About five hundred participants from the three states took part in several sessions that covered a range of topics from Integrating Sustainability into Public Spaces to When do Stormwater Utility Districts Make Sense? This year's conference also went beyond the typical convention center setting, including a morning 5K run along the Hartford Riverfront, a bike tour, and mobile workshops at Billings Forge and Riverfront Recapture in Hartford and Blue Back Square in West Hartford.


The Planning Commissioners Journal reported from the conference, posting articles about the various workshops on its PlannersWeb website. Presentations from the conference are also available on the SNEAPA website. 
Spotlight on 2012 CMSC Award Winner - New London Trolley Visitor Information Station   
The New London Trolley Visitor Information Station
The Rotary Club of New London took the lead in securing improvements to the site of the New London Trolley Visitor Information Station.


New London is a hub of activity, and even now is preparing for its annual Food Stroll. Part of what makes it so engaging is its many unique offerings and the way it has gone to great lengths to preserve its history and charm. CMSC recognized one such effort at its 2012 Awards Gala when it presented the Rotary Club of New London with the Award for Beautification for site improvements to the Trolley Visitor Information Station.


The small structure, built in 1893, was moved from its cemetery location in 1983 by local preservationists in order to save it from demolition. The original move relocated the building to a spot near New London's historic railroad station, but urban planning a few years later necessitated yet another relocation to its present spot in the corner of a large municipal parking lot adjacent to Eugene O'Neill Drive. What had been functioning as a one-room trolley ticket booth was thus converted into a small Information and Visitors' Center.


Little thought was given to the surrounding site. Ugly concrete planters in front of the building provided more of a barricade than a cheery welcome for visitors. In addition, the site had no differentiation from the rest of the parking lot, surrounded by broken pavement and other haphazard items.


However, architect and Rotarian Richard Gipstein decided something should be done about the site. He contacted Brian Kent and Chad Frost, two local landscape architects who agreed to prepare some design concepts for the site pro bono.


From there, the New London Rotary Club enthusiastically supported the project and the Rotary Foundation agreed to start a funding drive with their pledge of $6,000. They obtained the required sign-offs from the City, and after lengthy discussions with the City Manager, Planning & Zoning Department, Public Works and the Parking Commission, the plan was given the green light to proceed.


The project was completed in about three months - under the original $35,000 estimate. New London Public Works removed the ugly planters and pruned trees that were crowding the building. Well-planned and executed, the improvements to the Trolley Visitor Information Station have been very well received as improving the City's public face, enhancing the image of downtown.


Photos from the 2012 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page. We invite you to view the camaraderie and communal inspiration that was evident in the many smiling, proud faces of the awards winners and their supporters. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here.

Re-Mains of the Day 

Secret Corner Logo
Discover NW CT! Nine towns come together to launch a new visitor's website.
▪ The Northwest Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative ("the Collaborative") announced the launch of a new website featuring the "Secret Corner", a collective of nine towns in northwest Connecticut. Representatives from the Collaborative and local businesses were invited to talk about the new visitor's website on NBC morning news on September 27. Check it out for yourself at


This newsletter is meant to be a vehicle to communicate with our member communities, industry colleagues and generous supporters.  If you have information about events happening in your downtown, captivating pictures of your Main Street or news regarding your organization that you would like to share in our monthly newsletter, please let us know  

President's Message 


As mentioned above, CMSC is hosting its third Complete Streets workshop on November 2nd. The legislation behind Complete Streets requires that all state-funded roads in Connecticut safely accommodate all users, whether they be walking, riding the bus, pedaling a bike or driving a car. Although this legislation was passed in 2009, we saw through our work with local communities that many municipalities were either unaware of the law or unsure how to implement it (not to mention pay for it). Seeing this void, and working in partnership with the Center for Transportation and Livable Systems and Fuss & O'Neill, we decided to hold a series of three workshops through our Downtown Revitalization Institute to describe what Complete Streets are, how to design them, and how to make them a reality.


As I've mentioned in previous issues of Downtown Update, the CT Department of Transportation has worked with us on this issue, even presenting and providing the meeting space for our second Complete Streets workshop back in June. Throughout the series we've collaborated with a number of industry colleagues on this topic, both from the State and throughout the country, to bring you expert speakers with key insights on what works when it comes to Complete Streets.


Designing streets for all users, not just cars and drivers, is critical to maintaining Connecticut's small-town charm. It has benefits far beyond just a safety standpoint. Streets that are built for everyone attract visitors, shoppers and more, resulting in friendly neighborhoods that thrive as economic and recreational hubs. And we're not the only ones who think so.


The Tri-State Transportation Campaign has designed the "Complete Streets in a Box Toolkit". The Tri-State Transportation Campaign developed this toolkit in collaboration with our industry colleagues, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM). This toolkit succinctly lays out useful information as another means to advance this important legislation on the ground in our neighborhoods.


Individually our work provides a wealth of information and knowledge; cumulatively it provides the foundation upon which we can build the movement towards more sustainable, smart growth that includes all users. That's why at CMSC, we welcome and applaud the work of our colleagues as we strive towards our common goal of building great Connecticut communities that benefit all who visit them.


For more information on the upcoming Complete Streets workshop, click here. 

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



In This Issue
CMSC Hosting Final Complete Streets Workshop 



SNEAPA Conference a Smashing Success



Spotlight on 2012 CMSC Award Winner - New London Trolley Visitor Information Station



Re-Mains of the Day -NW CT Regional Planning Collaborative Launches Secret Corner Website



President's Message

Upcoming Events

Middletown Restaurant Week

October 14-18

More Info


New London Fall Food Stroll

October 17

More Info


NEDA Conference

October 28-30, 2012

More Info


DRI Workshop, Complete Streets #3

November 2, 2012
8:30am - 3:00pm
RPI - Hartford Campus
Check us out on Facebook
Kent + Frost Trolley Info Station Design
Kent + Frost designed site concepts for the New London Trolley Visitor Information Station.
See pictures of New London Rotary Club's award-winning New London Trolley Visitor Information Station improvements and more on Facebook!