Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.13, Issue 5

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.

Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center

Catching Up With CMSC


There's been a flurry of activity at Connecticut Main Street Center as things have ramped up with the arrival of Spring. Below are updates on a number of initiatives we're working on.


Corridor Advisory Committee (CAC) - As you may recall, at the request of CT Dept. of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker CERC, CMSC, Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) and the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) convened municipal officials from towns with transit stations along the New Haven/Hartford/Springfield commuter rail and CTfastrak busway. The group convened in February and continues to meet on a regular basis. The group recently surveyed itself to determine their priorities and found top issues include financing tools for transit village development, strategies to link these projects with Complete Streets policy and activities, and the "last mile challenge" of getting from the train or bus to home or work without a car.  The CAC will continue to focus on these issues in upcoming meetings.


Transit Village Workshop- One result of the CAC meetings was the recognition for more information and discussion around what transit village development roles can currently be met in Connecticut, and which are still needed. To facilitate this discussion, CMSC will host select municipal and State leaders invited by ConnDOT Commissioner Redeker to a workshop on determining Connecticut's current and potential transit village capacity in late June.


2013 CMSC Award Winners Announced - The 2013 Awards of Excellence winners were announced on May 1. Click here to see the full list. Also announced in the last issue of Downtown Update was winner of this year's CL&P Award, Toni Gold. The Awards Gala celebrating these wonderful achievements will be held on June 10th at the Wadsworth Atheneum.


Radio & Press - The accomplishments of CMSC and its member network have been getting a lot of attention lately and CMSC staff were asked to participate on radio programs twice in the last month. John Simone and Diane Smith, Program Development Officer for the Connecticut Housing

CMSC's John Simone and Diane Smith from CHFA meet with Sam Gingerella to talk about the Come Home to Downtown program on Face Connecticut.

Finance Authority (CHFA) recently sat down with 

Sam Gingerella of WTIC's Face Connecticut to talk about the  Come Home to Downtown program. CMSC recently announced the selection of the model buildings and their owners that will receive customized technical assistance on how to redevelop these buildings into mixed-use development. John and Diane's segment will air this Sunday, May 19 at 6:00 am on WTIC 1080.  In case you miss it, you can listen to it online here.


In addition, Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker was recently on WDRC's Talk of Connecticut with Mary Jones. Kim spoke with Mary about CMSC's Four Point Approach and how we assist our member network in achieving their individual community's goals for downtown management. You can listen to Kim's interview on the CMSC website.


The hard work and innovative accomplishments of the 2013 Awards of Excellence winners was also noticed. The Hartford Courant even wrote an editorial praising Toni Gold for her years of service after learning she won the CL&P award.


2012 Annual Report - CMSC is also pleased to present its first comprehensive annual report. This document is full of information on CMSC's programs and member network, as well as providing highlights and activity from our workshops, Awards Gala and financials. There's an in-depth look at the life of a Main Street organization, from the young and active Thread City Development in Willimantic to the mature and proactive Simsbury Main Street Partnership. See the 2012 Annual Report here.

Getting Reacquainted with Hartford  

Bushnell Park, Downtown Hartford
Bushnell Park, Downtown Hartford


As you know, CMSC's 2013 Awards Gala takes place next month at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Located in downtown Hartford, the museum is an institution that draws thousands of visitors to the City. Still, many people don't know much about Connecticut's capitol beyond a few main attractions like the Wadsworth. In the spirit of getting to know our hosts, here are a couple of initiatives underway in Hartford that demonstrate how different organizations are working together to engage people in all Hartford has to offer. 


Capitol Community College Hartford Heritage Project   


The goal of the Hartford Heritage Project is two-fold: 1) to change lives by improving student success through connected, place-based learning communities; and 2) to change Hartford by reconnecting people to their community. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Capital Community College's Hartford Heritage Project makes the city's rich and diverse cultural institutions, landmarks and neighborhoods an extension of the classroom. Visit the website to watch a short video about how the program brings classroom learning to life.  






The LiveHartford strategy and program is based on a belief that a coordinated neighborhood marketing program will provide easy access to neighborhood and housing information and financing tools is critical to the successful reinvestment in Hartford's neighborhoods. It's "your guide to moving to, living in and loving Hartford."

Spotlight on 2012 CMSC CL&P Award Winner:
Northwestern Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative 

The Northwestern Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative was chosen to receive the 2012 Connecticut Light and Power Company (CL&P) Award as a result of their regionally coordinated efforts to engage and support local economic development through their Village Center Vitality initiative. The CL&P Award recognizes individuals and organizations who dedicate themselves to promoting an awareness of the necessity of a comprehensive management approach to the revitalization of Connecticut's historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. The Collaborative's initiative included marketing and promotion of local village center businesses, coordinated directional and welcome signage, and providing capacity-building support to local business groups.


The Northwestern Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative was created in 2006 to meet land use planning and management challenges in the small towns of northwest Connecticut, with an emphasis on village center vitality and housing that is affordable to working families and seniors. Member towns of the Collaborative include Canaan, Cornwall, Goshen, Harwinton, Kent, North Canaan, Norfolk, Salisbury and Sharon.


"Working together has been critical to our success," said Jocelyn Ayer, Senior Planner for the Collaborative. "Over the last six years we've been able to pool our resources in a way that allows all of us to encourage

Sharon unveils its new wayfinding signage which resulted from the Collaborative's successful regional approach.

affordable housing and economic activity, accomplishing more than any one town could do on its own. Our small towns have so many common challenges, we have worked to find and implement common solutions," said Ms. Ayer.


In 2011-2012, the Collaborative's member towns received the benefit of an additional $141,000 in grant funding for affordable housing and economic development initiatives, bringing the total amount of funding raised by the Collaborative to over $600,000. The Collaborative was awarded a 2013 Preservation of Place (POP) grant from CMSC last fall, in addition to two earlier POP grants for its coordinated village center directional signage and local economic development capacity building projects.  They recently held a ribbon cutting in Sharon, where they unveiled their new wayfinding signage.


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 

New London Spring Food Stroll
New London's Food Stroll happening today!

New London Main Street's Spring Food Stroll - This signature New London event takes place today, Wednesday, May 15, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Stroll through nearly 50 downtown venues and taste samples from some of New London's finest eateries. Discover new dishes or savor a favorite while enjoying specials at shops, boutiques and galleries. Click here for more info and to buy your pin.


Bridgeport's Buzzing about the B:Hive, a new co-working space opening tomorrow, Thursday, May 16 in the heart of Bijou Square. The  B:Hive Bridgeport bills itself as, "Perfect for those who need to step it up from the home office, the university library, or the local coffee shop." Users pay a membership fee that entitles them to use of the space, including conference rooms, desks and work stations, a living room area with cable, books and games, free WiFi and presentation equipment.


Editor's Note: Our second CMSC/YES forum in February was held at The Grove, a co-working venture in New Haven, where we heard firsthand what a positive impact the collaborative space has had on the surrounding area. We hope the B:Hive is just as successful and wish them the best of luck!, a website devoted to great walks in Connecticut, is looking for downtown walks to add to their website. Walk CT lists walking locations for people of all ability levels, family-friendly outings and healthy living resources. If you have any walking tours of your Main Street district, feel free to contact Leslie Lewis at to discuss adding them to the website.


▪ Torrington announced their new slogan, TorringtonCT - it's happening here! yesterday.  Along with a new look and slogan, there's also a new website,, that will feature upcoming events and community projects.  You can also sign up to join their mailing list for alerts on town events.


Main Street Waterbury recently launched Vibes after Five, a website devoted to Waterbury's nightlife. Here you can find a list of the city's restaurants with links to each restaurant's website, as well as events and happy hour specials categorized by day. There's also info on downtown Waterbury's over 4,000 parking spaces. (Did you know metered parking is free after 6:00pm?)  Visit the website to learn more.



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 

Building on Momentum - How a few small achievements can snowball into major success.


Almost everyone has heard some version of the saying, "success breeds success." Part of the reason a phrase like this endures is the fact that it's based on a kernel of truth. Sometimes all that's needed to reach our goals is one small accomplishment that sets off a chain reaction of success.


It's no different in the world of downtown revitalization. Many of our smaller, younger downtown management organizations are in the midst of building this momentum. One great example was highlighted above - the Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative. Individually these nine towns and villages in the northwest corner of the State are too small to have the resources to create the types of main street districts they want. Undeterred, these communities banded together to form a regional coalition (no small feat considering the general lack of regionalization in Connecticut), pooling their resources and advocating for each other, instead of competing with each other. Determined, the Collaborative forged ahead, achieving one small success after another, until their efforts mushroomed into grants totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, statewide recognition and the transformation of their plans from ideas on paper to three-dimensional wayfinding signs, a website, marketing campaign and more.


The same momentum is being built all across the State in a variety of downtown development aspects, far beyond just the typical Main Street management. Transit village development, for instance, has gone from a long-desired wish to tender creation, with the CTfastrak busway and Hartford/New Haven/Springfield commuter rail fast becoming a reality. I don't think I can even remember a time when a ConnDOT Commissioner encouraged municipal leaders to meet and talk about these issues, or publicly supported them to such a degree as Commissioner Redeker has. It's invigorating to join my colleagues at CERC, CROG and SCRCOG as we work with the Commissioner to champion this type of development and cooperation.


Whether it's redeveloping long-vacant buildings and bringing new business opportunities to downtown Bridgeport, or reinventing a hip downtown in Willimantic, change happens as one success is achieved and celebrated, then leveraged into more success until the final goal becomes inevitable. Little by little, we're creating that necessary tipping point in many of our communities. I hope you continue to support CMSC and our member network as we work to achieve these very worthy goals.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



In This Issue
Catcing Up With CMSC

Getting Reacquainted with Hartford



Spotlight on 2012 CMSC CL&P Award Winner - Norwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative



Re-Mains of the Day -New London Spring Food Stroll Today; B:Hive Bridgeport Opening; Looking for Downtown Walks; Waterbury Launches Vibes sfter Five



President's Message


Upcoming Events

New London Spring Food Stroll

May 15

More Info


B:Hive Bridgeport Opens

May 16

More Info


Dough for Dough:
A Pizzapalooza Benefit for Working Lands Alliance w/ the Big Green Truck

New Haven

May 16

More Info


John Simone on Face Connecticut, WTIC 1080

June 19

More Info


CMSC Offices Closed for Memorial Day

May 27


2013 CMSC Awards Gala

Wadsworth Atheneum 

June 10


CMSC Member Networking Event

Storrs Center

June 18


CMSC Hosts CT DOT Commissioner Redeker on Transit Village Development Workshop

June 27


CMSC Hosts National Main Street Northeast Regional Coordinators Meeting

July 15


Like us on Facebook!

See pictures of the Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative and other award winners
on Facebook!


Photo by Andy Hart
How well do you know Hartford?
This year we're holding the Awards Gala at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Sure, we've all heard of the Wadsworth, but how well do you know the rest of Hartford? 
Did you know Hartford has an incredibly engaged group of young professionals and entrepreneurs?  HYPE's mission is to help young professionals become better engaged in community life, expand professional and social opportunities and become ambassadors for the Hartford Region.
Come to the Awards Gala and see for yourself - Hartford Has It.
New London Parade Plaza Voted One of America's Most Beautiful Town Squares by Travel+Leisure

Photo by Tony Bacewicz/New London Patch
New London's Parade Plaza (winner of  the CMSC 2012 Historic Preservation Award of Excellence) was just named one of America's Most Beautiful Town Squares by Travel + Leisure's online magazine.