Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.13, Issue 7

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.

Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center

CMSC Welcomes Ted DeSantos as Chair of the Board


T DeSantos
CMSC's new Board Chair Ted DeSantos is dedicated, proactive and committed to helping CMSC achieve its FY14 goals.

All of us here at CMSC are thrilled to introduce our new Board Chair, Mr. Ted DeSantos. Ted takes over from outgoing Board Chair Shelly Saczynski, with whom he served as Vice Chair. Since joining the CMSC Board in 2011, Ted has proven himself to be a very active member, regularly attending our Downtown Revitalization Institute workshops and other events, as well as participating in CMSC's initiatives by offering valuable feedback and technical guidance on issues such as Complete Streets and creating transit villages. He is a diligent, affable ambassador for CMSC, engaging funders and securing sponsorships from his own company, Fuss & O'Neill.


In terms of professional development, Ted is beyond qualified to lead the CMSC Board. He is a Principal and member of the Board of Directors at Fuss & O'Neill Inc., a consulting firm with six offices in New England and South Carolina providing expertise in environmental, infrastructure, community planning and development, as well as energy, facilities and design-build services. As a licensed Professional Engineer in six states and Certified Professional Traffic Operations Engineer, Ted has 20 years experience in transportation engineering, complete streets design, and urban site development. Ted has worked locally and nationally with municipalities and developers to accomplish smart growth, job creation and community building through public-private partnership.


We look forward to working with Ted in his new role as CMSC Board Chair, confident his expertise will help us reach our FY 2014 goals and position us to continue building on the momentum gained over the last year.

Simsbury High School Students Plan Town's Future 


The Hartford Simsbury campus
The Hartford's Simsbury campus. Photo from the CR3 website.

Simsbury High School has a dynamic and interactive Advanced Placement (AP) Economic class, as CMSC found out recently. Simsbury Main Street Partnership (SMSP) President Rich Correia works closely with Social Studies Teacher Robert Jeffers to line up ten speakers over eight weeks to educate the students on the practical application of land use planning and economic development. For the students the class culminates in a real-world project that incorporates all they've learned. For this year's class that meant breaking into groups and doing charrettes on the re-development possibilities for The Hartford Financial Services Group's Simsbury campus. (Earlier this year, The Hartford announced its intention to close its Simsbury campus over the next two years, relocating employees to Hartford and Windsor.)


CMSC's Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker was asked to introduce the students to the Main Street approach during the semester, then invited back to see the final presentations. She was quite impressed with the diversity and thoughtfulness of the students' final projects, which ranged from an affordable mixed-use housing development for young families to a community theatre and recreational space. 


Many kudos are due not only to the students for their impressive achievements, but also to teacher Robert Jeffers and SMSP President Rich Correia for their efforts to create a generation of engaged citizens by helping students understand land use planning and economic development on such a personal level.

Transit Village Workshop Keeps the Wheels Turning 

In late June, we held a workshop called Creating Transit Villages in Connecticut, sponsored by the State Department of Transportation (ConnDOT). Commissioner James Redeker invited participants to help identify the key roles that need to be filled and integrated in order for transit development to be a success here in Connecticut.


The nearly sixty people in attendance heard from Eric Halvorsen, AICP, Project Manager at Metropolitan (Boston) Area Planning Council and Vivian Baker, Assistant Director - Transit Friendly Land Use & Development for the New Jersey Transit Corporation, on how their respective states were able to build the partnerships and programs necessary to support and implement transit oriented development.


Redeker Welcomes DRI
ConnDOT Commissioner Redeker welcomes participants to the recent Creating Transit Villages in Connecticut workshop.

After learning which agencies and organization fulfilled each role in Massachusetts and New Jersey, groups were formed to discuss how we can accomplish similar development in Connecticut, given the State's $1.5 billion development in the New Haven/Hartford/Springfield commuter rail and CTfastrak, the New Britain to Hartford busway. The general consensus at the conclusion of the day was that investment in areas surrounding these stations is critical and a coordinated plan for development is imperative. CMSC will continue to work with and convene others to identify the appropriate next steps so we can continue making progress on creating transit villages we can all enjoy.


Check out materials from the workshop, including Eric and Vivian's presentations here. Additional workshop sponsors include: Series Sponsors Webster Bank and NewAlliance Foundation and Workshop Sponsors ConnDOT, CL&P and CDM Smith.
End of Year Review

Way back in January, as others were defining their New Year's resolutions we were providing mid-year updates on our annual goals. That's because CMSC operates on a fiscal calendar, which means we recently closed out our 2012-2013 year. We're proud to report that we continued to progress on our programs and initiatives, accomplishing a great deal this past year. Below are just a few of our major achievements: 

  • CMSC doubled in staff size last year, adding Susan Westa as Community Engagement Director and Christine Schilke as Communications & Office Manager.
  • Increased our budget by nearly 50%. This additional funding was the catalyst for a lot of activity as we partnered with CHFA, DECD, ConnDOT and others.
  • Grew our membership - CMSC added several new communities to its statewide network. We also held a member networking luncheon at the Colt Building in Hartford and we're already planning a series of member events for the coming year.
  • Bolstered our visibility - CMSC and our members were in the news quite a bit last year, appearing dozens of times in newspapers, on radio and TV. (Remember, you can always go back and review articles in our news archive.) We also greatly increased our use of social media, and of course launched our monthly newsletter, Downtown Update, as well as creating a quarterly newsletter just for our members.
  • We held several successful workshops over the course of the year, including sessions two and three of our Complete Streets series. We also reached out to new audiences when we partnered with Young Energetic Solutions to find out what communities can do to attract and keep young people. Most recently, we held a workshop on creating transit villages in partnership with ConnDOT.
  • Formed the Corridor Action Committee (CAC) - At the request of ConnDOT Commissioner Redeker, CMSC, the CT Economic Resource Center (CERC), CT Regional Council of Governments (CRCOG) and South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) convened the towns along the New Haven/Hartford/Springfield rail line and New Britain to Hartford CTfastrak busway. This group first met in February and continues to do so, having set a list of priorities which they will continue to work on.
  • Implemented Come Home to Downtown pilot program - As we've regularly reported, CMSC launched this new program last fall and has been working with three pilot communities and local property owners on the re-development of their downtown properties into housing and a mix of uses. 
These are just a few of our achievements over the past year. Be sure to visit our website, Facebook page and keep up with us on Twitter (handle CTMainSt) to learn about our latest activities.
Spotlight on 2013 Award of Excellence for Downtown Event: Fireball Run - Waterbury


Created five years ago, the "Fireball Run AdventuRally's The Race to Recover Missing Children" brings nationwide attention to missing and exploited children. Each Fireball Run team represents one missing child from that team's home region, and each team's adventure includes distributing 1,000 posters of the missing child from their area to aid in that child's recovery. Since its inception, Fireball Run has helped locate 38 missing children across the United States. 


Fireball Run Waterbury
The Fireball Run AdventuRally helps recover missing children while bringing together communities for fun and excitement.


Each Rally is great fun & includes production of a movie made from real experiences along the route as well as live web streaming. It brings wide publicity to all the participating cities and teams, while also garnering public attention for missing children. A different segment of the country is selected annually for the travel route. The Northeast was chosen for 2012, and Connecticut was identified as a potential site for a stopover. The Fireball Run planners invited Connecticut cities to apply to fill that role.


Waterbury's economic development administrators saw multiple purposes for undertaking this project. Involvement in Fireball Run was seen as a strong marketing tool. It also provided the opportunity to bring community elements together and demonstrate that, "we are still vital and capable; our downtown is still an attractive destination; we 'can do', and there is much to be proud of in Waterbury." Local coordinators wanted to demonstrate the City's spirit; highlight the attractive nature of Waterbury for business development; accentuate the positive about the community; have some fun; and aid in the effort to help find missing children.


Fireball Run 2012 presented an opportunity to showcase Downtown Waterbury as it is today, remind people of its history and past glory, and present a visible sense of what the City can be in the near future. It provided a clear demonstration of what the City Center can be when creative thinking and renewed energy are brought to strategic planning and use of Downtown resources.


The 42 teams of Fireball Run drivers visited Waterbury on September 27, 2012. During their visit, they went on an assigned scavenger hunt at the TimeExpo Museum, the historic Republican-American building, the Mattatuck Museum, and the Waterbury Green. At each landmark they received clues to accomplish missions they were assigned based on local history, geography, and pop culture. This was a fun way to involve many downtown businesses and members of the community. Upon arrival at the Green, drivers were celebrated with a free event for the entire Waterbury community to enjoy, including live music, a re-enactment of John F. Kennedy's 1960 election-eve speech from the balcony of the former Elton Hotel, games, and a scavenger hunt for children. It was a spectacularly beautiful fall afternoon when they arrived and thousands of people came to the Green to enjoy the highly-spirited activities and fun.


Approximately 5,000 people from Waterbury and surrounding towns came into downtown to be on the Green when the racers arrived. Thirty businesses served as sponsors or vendors, and sponsor contributions ranged from $500 to $10,000. Two hundred-fifty people attended the evening soiree that welcomed and entertained the Fireball Run organizers and race participants.


Fireball Run organizers said it was Waterbury's organized effort, obvious wide spread enthusiasm, vision for involvement in pursuing the event's goals, and strong support from the City's administration that made it a clear choice as a destination city. Ultimately, it was the quality of the City's work that caused Fireball Run organizers to declare Waterbury a "Great American City."


Out of this experience came the confidence and vision to establish a new economic development campaign for the City of Waterbury entitled, "Waterbury, Be Here." Its goal is to tell positive stories about Waterbury, using print, web, radio, and videos. The plan is to encourage recognition that Waterbury's positive and significant strengths provide opportunities to residents and businesses and is worthy of investment.


The Fireball Run drivers' visit was viewed live by over three million viewers on The website streamed the entire road adventure from Ohio to Maine live between September 21st and 29th. This year, the drivers' eight-day expedition will be viewed by millions more when the "Fireball Run AdventuRally - Northern Exposure" feature film is released nationwide.

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 


The State of Connecticut recently launched Transform CT, a strategic planning approach to transportation policies, programs, and projects. Transform CT will improve economic growth and competitiveness,

We uploaded this photo of downtown Norwalk to as one of the things that makes CT great.

build sustainability, and provide a blueprint for a world-class transportation system.


As part of this campaign, the State created, an online forum that invites public input into how we create better places with big ideas and small changes. This is a great opportunity to participate in a state-wide conversation on transportation, placemaking and healthy communities. Check out to see photos from our Main Street Communities on what makes Connecticut great. You can add your own pictures and ideas for improvements or vote on what others have offered up.


If you would like a representative from ConnDOT to speak about TransformCT at your organization or event, please contact David Elder, Supervising Transportation Planner at


▪ Join New Haven cyclists for their monthly bike to work and free breakfast this Friday, July 19 from 7:30am-9:30am. The event is sponsored by Stratton Faxon and hosted by Elm City Cycling, New Haven's home for bicycle advocacy and community. The ride leaves from Pitkin Plaza, Orange St. between Chapel & Court. Click here for more information.


▪ New London Fish Tails, Tugs, & Sails - It's time for New London's annual event celebrating children's literature and the environment. Enjoy meeting nationally known children's authors and illustrators as well as interactive live entertainment and hands-on activities, or get up close and personal with sea critters in the touch tanks. The activities take place rain or shine Saturday, July 27.


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 

Why Wait?


As noted above, in June we held a workshop on Creating Transit Villages in Connecticut. The State has committed $1.5 billion to the creation of CTfastrak, the New Britain to Hartford busway, as well as the New Haven/Hartford/Springfield commuter rail. So it makes sense that we start planning how we want the areas around those stations to be developed.


At CMSC, we naturally advocate that those areas embody our Main Street principles, including offering a variety of transportation choices (walking, biking, car, bus, etc); a mix of housing, retail, entertainment and office space; a diversity of income and ethnicity among the residents and patrons; and of course, that they are clean, safe, attractive and fun.


The main purpose of the day's event was to begin identifying what roles are needed to achieve that type of development and who can fill them. Speakers Eric Halvorsen and Vivian Baker did an excellent job describing how these functions are carried out in Massachusetts and New Jersey, their respective states. But Eric said something deceptively simple and beguilingly provocative during his presentation that caught my attention. He commented that we can start creating these transit villages now, we don't need to wait for everything to be in place to begin this work.


While it's exciting to think of designing an ideal smart growth community almost from scratch, fully integrated in terms of having a mix of uses and transportation options that's inviting and robust, it's not a future we have to wait for. Many of our communities are taking already taking a proactive approach, purposefully tasking themselves with creating form based codes to ensure development occurs at a measured pace or stepping up to pass Complete Streets ordinances that require streets be safe for all users, not just cars. More and more, towns are beginning to look at how they can improve their mix of housing and retail, encourage more young people and retirees to stay; and how to create more walkable and bikeable downtowns.


Eric was right - there's a lot of work we can do right away to create transit villages, both in those communities that are going to be part of these new transportation corridors and those that aren't. There's nothing stopping us from creating the types of downtowns we want to see in these modern hubs that link transportation with homes and recreation.  Working together, we can make this smart growth happen that much faster, ensuring our future success begins today.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



Join Our Mailing List
In This Issue
CMSC Welcomes
Ted DeSantos as Chair of the Board

Simsbury High School Students Plan Town's Future


Transit Village Workshop Keeps the Wheels Turning


End of Year Review
Spotlight on 2013 Award of Excellence: Fireball Run 


Re-Mains of the Day -TransformCT launched; Bike to Work Ride & Breakfast in New Haven; Fish Tales, Tugs & Sails in New London
President's Message:
Why Wait?
We love our sponsors!
Gold Simone Andino
Board member and tireless advocate Toni Gold wins the CL&P Award, presented by John Simone and fellow Board Member  Lissette Andino, Northeast Utilities Community Relations Lead, at our recent Awards Gala.
When it comes to a Board of Directors, it doesn't get much better than ours. 
The CMSC Board is by far one of our biggest supporters, playing a large part in much of our success.  Not only has each one made a personal contribution to show their commitment to our mission of championing vibrant Main Streets as the foundation of healthy communities, but they routinely volunteer their time and expertise on our behalf. 
Our Board:

- Participates in and supports our workshops by attending, presenting and securing sponsorships for these events.


- Supports our members by attending networking events and promoting activities and information relevant to our member communities.


- Advocates for CMSC and the Main Street way of life through penning editorials and opinion pieces, promoting our work and garnering us additional press, and generally talking us up to their colleagues and others.


- Helps us achieve our goals through constant fundraising, either by contributing individually or encouraging their companies to support us financially, and introducing us to potential new sponsors.


- Provides continual guidance and technical assistance through their professional experience and insight.


We couldn't do what we do without them, and they're such a great group of people that we wouldn't want to!


CMSC Board of Directors!!!
Upcoming Events
Bike to Work Ride & Breakfast
New Haven
July 19


Public Input Request on  Closes

July 19

More Info


CMSC Hosts National Main Street Northeast Regional Coordinators Meeting

July 23


Rehabilitation Tax Credits for Building Professionals Workshop
  July 25
Where Feet Meet the Street: Innovative Public/Private Placemaking Projects
NJ Main Street
Montclair, NJ
July 24
Fish Tales, Tugs & Sails
New London
July 27
Music at the Exchange
Simsbury Farmers' Market


Jun 20-Oct 3

More Info


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.
Odds & Ends
 Street Videos Still
Want to see something neat?  Then check out Streetfilms, a website that documents livable streets worldwide through blogs and videos.  Here, you can check out good ideas circling the globe from Indianapolis to Copenhagen on everything from bioswales to bike lanes.
We spoke and SNEAPA listened!  Our idea was accepted for the fall conference.  Come listen to us on Thursday, October 17 at 1:45 pm as speak about Meeting the Growing Demand for Downtown Living.
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.