Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.13, Issue 8

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.

Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center

CMSC Hosts New England Regional Coordinators Meeting


NE Coord Mtg-Lunch
Main Street Program Coordinators from New England enjoy lunch with CMSC at Loft 628 in Hartford.
In late July, CMSC hosted Main Street Coordinators from Delaware, New Hampshire, New York (Western Eerie Canal), Boston, MA, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Maine, as well as Patrice Frey, the new National Main Street Center CEO.


This was the first time CMSC hosted an event like this. The agenda included a brief overview from each of the Executive Directors about the successes and challenges their individual programs face. Ms. Frey gave an overview of current activity at the National Main Street Center, which was created as a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation earlier this year. The group then had an open discussion about the evolving role between state, regional and citywide coordinators and local programs, as well as updating the list of criteria designated Main Street Programs need to meet for national accreditation. (Currently the ten criteria are all internally focused and do not necessary best reflect the results of the work of these organizations.)


The group took a short field trip to the Colt Gateway building for lunch prepared by Chef Harry and a behind-the-scenes tour of the redevelopment underway on the building, including a spectacular view from the famous Blue Onion Dome.

CMSC Appointed to Blight Task Force 


At the close of the recent legislative session, Substitute House Bill No. 6235 was passed, "An Act Creating a State-wide Task Force to Address Blight and Concerning Notice of Fines, Penalties, Costs or Fees for Citations Issued Under Municipal Ordinances." The Task Force will examine procedural problems with addressing blight at the municipal level and propose legislative solutions. The group is to be comprised of various members, including the chairs and ranking members of the Planning & Development Committee; representatives from the CT Conference of Municipalities (CCM), CT Business and Industry Association (CBIA ), CT Council of Small Towns (COST) and "the president and chief executive officer of Connecticut Main Street Center," among others. The task force is expected to convene sometime this fall. Of course, CMSC will bring a Main Street perspective to the group, as areas that are clean, safe, and fun matter to all of us.

YES Statewide Steering Committee Convenes  

YES Logo

Young Energetic Solutions (YES), an initiative of the Partnership for Strong Communities (PSC), is convening a Statewide Steering Committee to guide its work. YES's goal is to ensure young professionals have a role in thoughtfully and creatively shaping their communities. The Statewide Steering Committee is comprised of both Local and State Organizers. The Local Organizers are on-the-ground representatives of local community or non-profit organizations who will spearhead efforts to engage young people in creating their neighborhoods through participation on boards and commissions. The State Organizers will provide assistance to the local YES groups through governance and overall administration including project management and communications.


The Statewide Committee, led by PSC's Diana Deng, held its initial meeting at the end of July. Together the group began articulating its goals and vision for creating communities that will attract young people. The group will continue to meet, first to further define its goals and governing structure, then to implement those goals on the local level across the state.


Members of the Steering Committee are young professionals from across the State who are dedicated to their communities and making Connecticut a desirable place for people of all ages to live. CMSC's Christine Schilke, Communications & Officer Manager, is participating in the group as a State Organizer. As you may recall, CMSC and YES have worked together before, most notably teaming up for our very successful February forums on attracting and keeping young people in our downtowns.


Check out the Diana's blog about the YES Steering Committee or click here for more information.
Parking Made Easy 

The Oregon Transportation & Growth Management Program (TGM) in collaboration with Rick Williams Consulting of Portland, created a very useful handbook describing parking management strategies that communities can use to ensure good access to local businesses and other destinations while maintaining a pedestrian-friendly, attractive business district. Topics discussed include ways to:  

  • Conduct an inventory to determine when, where, and for how long parking is used;
  • Match parking supplies to parking demand while encouraging greater use of such alternative travel modes as public transit, walking, and bicycling;
  • Develop a local consensus around parking requirements;
  • Determine when parking fees and time limits are warranted;
  • Handle employee (vs. customer/visitor/patient) parking; and
  • Efficiently manage the parking supply so that it accommodates economic growth while protecting community assets.

The handbook also provides case studies to illustrate how some cities have tackled specific challenges. Download a copy here.


Thanks to National Main Street Center for passing along this helpful information.

Spotlight on 2013 Award of Excellence Public Space Master Plan: The iQuilt Plan for Downtown Hartford

The iQuilt Plan is downtown Hartford's urban design strategy for walkability and creative placemaking. It capitalizes on two of Hartford's greatest strengths: its extraordinary concentration of arts, cultural and landscape assets, and its exceptionally compact downtown. However, while the cultural assets are physically close, the pedestrian links between them are often weak. The iQuilt Plan strengthens those links. It offers an array of physical and programmatic improvements to the pedestrian network of public space - parks, plazas, streets, and sidewalks.


iQuilt Plan Pic
The iQuilt Plan was hailed as one of the "best plans in the country" by the Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.



The projects are a strategic mix of small and large, immediate and long term, public and private. They are being implemented in stages. Each initiative is a patch that contributes to downtown's overall pattern or quilt. The "i" in iQuilt stands for innovation, and each project incorporates innovative approaches to walkability and placemaking. The goal is for downtown Hartford to become the central gathering place for the neighborhoods of the city and the towns of the region: a place of streets and sidewalks alive with people; a magnet for residents, visitors, creative workers and cultural innovators; a driver of economic activity and growth; and a model of livable, sustainable urban design.


The iQuilt Plan interweaves the urban landscape with the natural one. It honors the city's history as a thriving riverfront port and as an innovator in the design of public parks by connecting Bushnell Park and the State Capitol to the Connecticut River, and by bringing flowing water back to the riverbed of the Park River. This mile-long connection, called the GreenWalk, provides the east-west backbone for downtown's 10 mile pedestrian network of streets and sidewalks. Fused with the north-south Main Street ridge, this irregular grid creates the seams of the iQuilt, weaving together more than 40 historic and cultural landscapes, sites, artworks, and institutions.


The early work of the iQuilt Plan was done by The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts as they sought to develop a formal vision for their Capitol Avenue and Bushnell Park neighborhood. Leadership at The Bushnell, with support from their Board, chose to think broadly and look beyond their immediate block. With support from the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the City of Hartford, they moved forward the idea for a master plan focused on walkability.


The plan has almost universal support from multiple constituencies. Mayor Pedro Segarra and the City of Hartford have championed the iQuilt plan as a critical component of One City, One Plan, the City's Plan of Conservation and Development. City development officials and planning staff are pushing the initiative forward and have been successful in securing a $13 million TIGER IV federal transportation grant to implement portions of the plan. Mayor Segarra has committed an additional $10 million in Capital Improvement Program funds over two years to complete transit and streetscape improvements in the core Downtown area.


Since its earliest days in 2008, the iQuilt Plan has engaged the public in the process of developing its themes, concepts, designs, and strategies. This has included more than 17 public presentations and workshops and more than 80 briefings for over two thousand public officials, stakeholder groups, and private citizens. A website launched in April 2011 has attracted more than 7,500 individual viewers and 25,000 page views. In the relatively new governance structure of the iQuilt Partnership, a 501c3 non-profit organization has been created. This new partnership Board along with a Board of Corporators, that includes 50 members of the public, is responsible for project oversight.


The partnerships that this plan has forged have made, and will continue to make, Hartford a stronger and more unified city. The iQuilt Plan has brought together many different organizations and institutions; all with the aim of making Downtown Hartford more welcoming. And iQuilt will provide "a shared living room for all residents of Hartford to come together."


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 


CMSC welcomes two new members! - The Town of Vernon (through Shaun Gately, Economic Development Coordinator) and Higganum Vision Group have joined the CMSC community member network. CMSC looks forward to working with them on how they can best implement the Four Point Approach in revitalizing their downtowns. 

Best wishes to Sarah DiMeo, newly appointed President of the Main Street Waterbury Board of Directors.


▪ Sarah DiMeo named new President of the Main Street Waterbury Board - Sarah DiMeo, of Synergistic Marketing LLC, in Naugatuck, was elected President of the MSW Board, effective July 1. Sarah joined MSW in 2005 as a volunteer on the Promotion Committee, progressively moving her way up to Board member and now Board President. During this time she facilitated the development of a cohesive branding campaign for MSW that garnered the organization local, state and national recognition. She introduced a new approach to the annual sponsorship campaign and chairs the annual Stephen R. Sasala II awards event. CMSC will work with MSW and provide guidance to ensure Sarah is fully prepared for her new role. .


▪ The June Member Networking Event in Storrs Center has been rescheduled to Thursday, September 19. Additionally, we'll be partnering with CEDAS for this event, which means more opportunities for you to network with industry colleagues.


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 

Baby Boomers want in too


By now, it's pretty well known there's growing demand for a return to the Main Street way of life where one can live downtown in a walkable setting. We've talked a lot about how young people especially are craving the option of waking up and walking or biking to the local coffee shop before heading off to work, shopping, the doctor's office, etc. They would much rather be out and about than mowing the lawn or cleaning a big house in the suburbs where they have to drive to pick up a quick meal. Many groups, such as Young Energetic Solutions (YES) mentioned above, are working to give young people a voice in creating these types of mixed-use neighborhoods.


Interestingly, the flip side of this younger demand is a parallel growing trend among Baby Boomers and retirees who want the very same things: the option of visiting with family and friends instead of spending time in the car in long commutes; going to the movies or out to dinner instead of siphoning time away replacing gutters and sealing driveways.


A recent article in the Washington Post chronicles this growing demand. In it, AARP acknowledges that the large majority of seniors aged 50-64 still want to age in their current home. However, many others want to give up their large suburban homes in favor of living somewhere they can walk or bike to amenities. Amy Levner, manager of AARP's Livable Communities, notes the Baby Boomer group is so populous that even if only a small percentage want to make this change, there are so many of them that they will have a large impact.


According to Chris Leinberger, a professor at the George Washington University School of Business and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in the same article, the shift toward urban living is "the largest social trend of the early 21st century." According to him, although boomers aren't driving the trend, they are jumping on it.


Articles like this demonstrate the demand is here, now. Creating interesting, walkable Main Street districts in downtowns throughout Connecticut will not only help attract young people, but retain older residents who want to give up their large homes, while staying close to family and friends. By remaining, they will also help retain the town's character and institutional memory. Being proactive when it comes to this type of development will ensure our state retains a healthy mix where all are welcome, young, old and everyone in between.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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In This Issue
CMSC Hosts New England Regional Coordinators Meeting

CMSC Appointed to Blight Task Force


YES Convenes Statewide Steering Committee


Parking Made Easy
Spotlight on 2013 Award of Excellence: iQuilt Plan for Downtown Hartford 


Re-Mains of the Day -CMSC Welcomes New Members; Sarah DiMeo Appointed MSW Board President; Member Networking Event rescheduled to September
President's Message:
Baby Boomers want in too
We love our sponsors!
UIL Holdings' long-time support of CMSC has been pivotal to our success. 
Ever wonder why we constantly recognize  UIL Holdings (f/k/a The United Illuminating Company) as a "Growth Sponsor"?
It's because in 2008, CMSC, with the help of CL&P, put out the call to engage additional, larger sponsors so that CMSC could grow purposefully, making a concerted effort to further our mission through the procurement of additional resources.  The United Illuminating Company, as it was then known, stepped up to the plate. 
With UIL Holdings' continued substantial sponsorship we've been able to achieve many successes.

- Further CMSC's mission by providing operating support that allows us to implement our strategic plan.


- Invest in CMSC, allowing us to offer education and technical assistance to our members.


- Leverage funds by offering to match their employees' contributions in CMSC.


- Enable highly qualified professionals to participate on our Board. In fact, Immediate Past Chair Shelly Saczynski is Director of Economic & Community Development at UIL Holdings.



UIL Holdings!!!
Upcoming Events
A Taste in Simsbury
August 29
5:30-8:30 pm
CMSC Offices Closed for Labor Day
September 2
Brass City Brewfest
September 7
12:00-5:00 pm
Festival on the Green
September 22
12:00-4:00 pm
Music at the Exchange
Jun 5 - Sep 11 
Simsbury Farmers' Market


Jun 20-Oct 3

More Info


SNEAPA Conference

October 17-18

Worcester, MA

Register & 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 we speak about Meeting the Growing Demand for Downtown Living.
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NE Coordinators Mtg - Dome  



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