Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.13, Issue 6

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.

Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center

2013 Awards Gala Celebrates

Best in Main Streets  

Fichmand Accepts Award
Dr. Fichman receives the CT Main Street Business Owners of the Year award.


The weather called for rain and thunder, but even that couldn't dampen the mood as guests mixed and mingled among the artwork at the Wadsworth Atheneum, site of CMSC's annual celebration of achievement on Main Street. For those of you who couldn't attend, here's a quick recap of last Monday's 2013 Awards Gala.


Connecticut has a new Troubadour of Placemaking! Kip Bergstrom, DECD Deputy Commissioner, was crowned with this special award during the reception portion of the Awards Gala. CMSC created the award as a way to honor Kip for his enthusiastic and endless support of creative spaces in Connecticut. During his acceptance speech, Kip said he believed "more education will lead to less regulation" as people understand the importance of crafting great places that invite people to visit and enjoy Connecticut's communities. Kip may be the official troubadour, but we certainly don't mind singing his praises and saying thanks for the outstanding work. Let's all help to keep it up!
Segarra Welcomes Crowd
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra welcomes the crowd at the start of the Awards presentation.


Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra welcomed guests at the start of the Awards Presentation, noting that although we've had many successes, there is still much to be done. He also mentioned work will begin soon on the Main Street Corridor, which will implement some of the recommendations from the iQuilt Plan (winner of the 2013 Public Space Master Plan award).


A very big and heartfelt Thank You went to outgoing CMSC Board Chair Shelly Saczynski. Shelly served as Board Chair from 2009-2013. Under her tenure, CMSC finances increased almost 70%, new staff were hired and our relationships with State agencies (most notably OPM, DECD, ConnDOT and CHFA) were strengthened. But perhaps most importantly, Shelly managed the Board and organization with a deft hand, never missing an opportunity to praise staff and encourage our mission. She provided wonderful guidance and wise counsel during one of the most difficult economies in memory. Fortunately Shelly will remain on the Board as immediate past chair beginning in July (the start of CMSC's fiscal year).


The winners took to the stage to receive their awards. There were several honors given out including recognition for Main Street Volunteers of the Year, Main Street Board Members of the Year, the 2013 Nationally Accredited Main Street Programs, the CL&P Award, and of course, the six Awards of Excellence for: Main Street Partnership; Economic & Business Development; Public Space Master Plan; Downtown Event; Historic Preservation and CT Main Street Business Owner of the Year. You can expect to learn more about many of these awards winners when we feature them in future issues of Downtown Update. Click here to see the full list of winners and the PowerPoint presentation from the event. Be sure to check Facebook often as we'll be posting additional photos from the night in the near future.

Come Home to Downtown Taking Off 


Come Home to Downtown logo

About fifty people gathered in the community room of the newly renovated Community Health Center on Main Street Middletown last week to hear about the Come Home to Downtown (CHTD) program and plan for redevelopment of two, attached Main Street buildings. David Sousa from CDM Smith presented the results of the urban design study while architect Bill Crosskey presented options for the redevelopment of the buildings at 418 and 420 Main Street.


Mr. Sousa reported that Main Street Middletown has some great features, including several notable structures and an appropriately-scaled streetscape that contributes to an enveloped feeling. However, there is room for improvement when it comes to side streets off Main Street. It is on these secondary roads that Middletown has the most opportunity to encourage growth and design elements (like trees and lighting) that will draw in visitors and residents. He noted that a lack of parking is an important - albeit counterintuitive - signal of success when it comes to downtowns. Mr. Sousa also reported that cars and traffic in themselves are not bad, but there should be short blocks with many intersections and other traffic calming practices that make the roads safe and usable by not only cars, but pedestrians, bicyclists and others. Meanwhile, Bill Crosskey, the architect CMSC has been consulting with on the program, presented options for the redevelopment of the buildings, one of which included a range of apartment styles and another that featured fewer, larger lofts.


The crowd was responsive, asking several questions of the consultants and their findings. One gentlemen expressed his enthusiastic support of this type of mixed-use development, saying he hoped Middletown could evolve into a downtown similar to Amherst, Mass.


The Middletown Eye published a very thorough overview of the meeting, and additional information and background on Come Home to Downtown can be found on CMSC's website.


Similar Community Meetings have been scheduled for the other two towns, Torrington and Waterbury, that were chosen as pilot communities for the Come Home to Downtown program, which CMSC developed in partnership with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. The public is encouraged to attend.


Torrington - Wednesday, June 19 at 5:30pm at the City Hall Auditorium, 140 Main Street, Torrington


Waterbury - Wednesday, June 26 at 5:30pm at UConn's Multipurpose Room, 99 East Main Street, Waterbury  

Community Info Hub Launched 

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving launched a Community Information Hub for Greater Hartford in partnership with CT Mirror, WNPR and Hartford Public Library to coordinate and expand access to news, information and data about critical community issues and provide new opportunities for civic engagement.


The Community Information Hub will offer web-based and community-based forums and dialogues where concerned citizens can report and discuss issues they care about and work together towards solutions. The online resource will provide residents with a broader platform to share their perspectives and ideas for community action. The Community Hub also will present and connect to data and other information on issues and sponsor public events.


The Hub held two events in May: a forum on the workforce skills gap and a community conversation on the workforce skills gap and training programs. Both events were held at the Hartford Public Library. Events like these inform residents of the issues, and the dialogues will help residents develop action agendas.
Spotlight on 2013 Awards of Excellence 

Sponsors Contribute More than Just Funds


Starting in July, this section will continue to highlight a 2013 Award of Excellence winner. At this time, however, we'd like to acknowledge those who make the annual Awards Gala possible - our many wonderful sponsors.  

2013 Gala Sponsors 1
Thank you to our 2013 Awards Gala sponsors!

Each year we have many generous sponsors who contribute to the success of our Awards Gala. Of course there are the tangible results of their investment - the venue, food, programs, plaques and certificates. But there are also the intangibles that this event produces: a plethora of good press; a reason to celebrate; recognition for our members, their communities and volunteers; the ability to share our story with people we may not otherwise reach; an occasion to strengthen our relationships with each other; and the opportunity to take pride in our work and acknowledge that we are indeed making a difference.


Below is a list of sponsors who made this year's event a success. We thank them for their investment in CMSC and for their stalwart commitment to Connecticut's Main Streets.


  • Welcome to Main Street Reception - sponsored by Baywater Properties, Fuss & O'Neill, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.
  • 2013 Award Sponsor - Webster Bank
  • Main Street Sponsors - Renaissance Downtowns, Travelers
  • Leadership Sponsors - Colliers International, Connecticut Community Investment Corporation, Connecticut Economic Development Association, CDM Smith, Corporation for Independent Living, Express Strategies, First Niagara Bank, Suisman Urban Design, Simon Konover Company, UIL Holdings
  • Supporting Sponsors - Connecticut Economic Resource Center


We'd also like to thank those who volunteered and provided support for the evening:

  • Hartford Business Improvement District (BID)
  • City of Hartford Development Services
  • HYPE Hartford
  • The Wadsworth Atheneum and their extremely helpful staff.
  • Ben Pollard, Memory Manufacturing Photography


 2013 Awards Gala 2 
A few photos from the 2013 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page and additional pictures will be posted soon. We invite you to check back often 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 

Inn at Harbor Mill Niantic
The Inn at Harbor Hill in Niantic. Picture courtesy of CT Tourism Office, Visit CT Facebook page.

Niantic named first-ever Fan Favorite still revolutionary Town of the Year in a contest sponsored by the CT Tourism Office. Governor Malloy announced Niantic as the winner at the recent Connecticut Tourism Conference. Niantic village - a CMSC member community - is located along the shore of Long Island Sound. Although small, their support was mighty, winning the majority of the nearly 10,000 votes cast over a four week period. The Inn at Harbor Hill was voted the favorite destination within Niantic. View Niantic's "One Thing" video and more here.


▪ Torrington Historical Society wins heritage grant to create walking tour of Torrington's National Register Historic District. Although Torrington already has a self-guided tour, the grant will be used to create an interactive tour, expected to be ready by Fall 2013. At each historical site visitors will be able to use their smartphone to scan a "QR" code and listen to a recording about the site's history and significance. The scripts will be recorded by voice-over artist Jill Connolly, a signature voice at Boston's Public Radio station, WGBH, The grant funds are from a collaboration grant to the Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut by the CT Humanities Council.


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 

It all comes together


Just like the Awards Gala, with planning, hard work, networking and luck, it all comes together on Main Street. Because it's these very elements that go into the successful management of a downtown - or anything in life, for that matter. Just look at our Award Winners if you want to see these qualities in action.


Take planning, for instance. There's no way the new Storrs Center doesn't come to mind immediately. An endeavor ten-plus years in the making, it took an incredible amount of planning, patience and hard work to make this vision a reality. A huge piece of that was undertaken by our award winners who worked tirelessly to make sure businesses weren't displaced during the construction of the new downtown. The Mansfield Downtown Partnership worked in concert with the Town of Mansfield and UConn to create a walkable, vibrant downtown complete with businesses both new and old.


Or take Dr. Richard Fichman, owner of Fichman Eye Center, if you want to see how luck can change the fate of a neighborhood. Dr. Fichman devoted countless hours to his profession, becoming a highly respected ophthalmologist renowned for his needle-less cataract surgery technique. It was sheer luck that his son happened to ask one day why he didn't open an eye center on Albany Avenue in the neighborhood where Dr. Fichman grew up. This question sparked a desire in Dr. Fichman to return and help better his community. Not only did he open an office on Albany Avenue, but he also hired local residents as contractors and employees. It is this willingness to share his success with others that is helping transform the Avenue and the lives of the people that live there.


Then there's Harrison Judd, an artist in Willimantic, whose photos of the destruction of an iconic local smokestack allowed a town to mourn its loss while re-connecting with each other and beginning a community dialogue on Windham's future. The community-centered art exhibition documented the demolition of Willimantic's last American Thread Mills Smokestack in a series of large-scale photographs, while additional photos of the current urban landscape called attention to Windham's present beauty as well as its needs. Perhaps the exhibit's greatest success, though, was how it connected residents with the simultaneous Willimantic Portrait Project. Mr. Judd created an impromptu photo studio within the gallery and offered free portraits to all visitors. Instantly, a living, photographic archive of the town's residents was created, effectively linking present and future stewards of the downtown with memories of its past successes.


I could go on and on, talking at length about each and every award winner and their accomplishments. That's because great examples like these occur in our downtown communities every day as committed residents and city and municipal officials strive to improve their neighborhoods for the betterment of all. Today we celebrate the success of our Awards Winners and countless others who use their talent and determination to bring it all together on Main Street. 

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



Join Our Mailing List
In This Issue
2013 Awards Gala Celebrates Best in Main Streets

Come Home to Downtown Taking Off


Community Info Hub Launched


Spotlight on 2013 Awards of Excellence


Re-Mains of the Day -Niantic Voted Fan Favorite; Torrington Wins Heritage Grant
President's Message
We love our sponsors!
Webster Bank  
Webster Bank has been a big supporter of ours for several years now, and we think they're great.  "We find a way" isn't just a slogan for them, it's a principle.  And because of their generous support, they've helped us find a way to inspire even more great Connecticut Main Streets. Here's how Webster Bank's contributions have had an impact:

- Sponsored several CMSC Awards of Excellence and helped make our Awards Galas fantastic events that get noticed by the press, Governor and legislators.


- Enabled our DRI workshops that have educated hundreds of participants on how to build better streets and create healthy, vibrant neighborhoods.


- Assisted in the investment of over $1 billion dollars in our designated communities by providing financial support to CMSC so we can do what we do best - help our members and champion the Main Street way of life.


Webster Bank!!
Upcoming Events
CMSC Board Meeting
Storrs Center
June 18
Music at the Exchange
CMSC Member Networking Event

Storrs Center

June 18


Simsbury Farmers' Market


Jun 20-Oct 3

More Info


CMSC Hosts CT DOT Commissioner Redeker at Transit Village Development Workshop

June 27


POP Interim Reports Due

June 30


Fireworks Festival


July 3

More Info


CMSC offices closed for Independence Day

July 4


CMSC Hosts National Main Street Northeast Regional Coordinators Meeting

July 15


Want walkable?
Believe in bike-able?
  West Hartford Center
Want to support local businesses
and have fun, interesting downtowns to visit?
Help us
build better Main Streets!
 Volunteers help keep Norwalk looking sharp for visitors and residents.
Click here
to find out how your investment in CMSC can help improve Connecticut's economy; attract visitors, cool retailers & memorable events; reduce our car dependence and facilitate healthy neighborhoods.
Thanks Shelly! 
CMSC Chair 2009-2013 
Saczynski Simone 2010 Gala
Outgoing Board Chair Shelly Saczynski shares a laugh with CMSC President & CEO John Simone at the 2010 Awards Gala reception at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport. Upbeat, encouraging, supportive of staff and freely giving of her time and counsel were just a few hallmarks of her tenure as Chair. (And yes, there really is an elephant in the room behind them.)
Under Shelly's tenure, CMSC increased its finances, hired new staff and strengthened its relationships with State agencies. She also never missing an opportunity to praise staff and encourage our mission. And all while providing wonderful guidance and wise counsel during one of the most difficult economies in memory..
Like us on Facebook!

Bushnell Park, Downtown Hartford 



Visit us on Facebook to find out more about what CMSC staff are up to, read interesting stories related to life and management on Main Street and connect with colleagues. 



Find us on Twitter!
Twitter Bird Logo 
Our handle on Twitter is CTMainSt. Give us a shout out and we'll be sure to say hi back.