Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center
 

August/2014

Vol.14, Issue 8       

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.
The YES Generation 

Young Energetic Solutions (YES), the group committed to empowering Connecticut's young people to create vibrant communities, is continuing to progress in its outreach and advocacy efforts.

  • The group recently launched a new website, www.yes-ct.org, which will help local hubs provide up-to-date event information, as well as offer resources and information on how young people can become involved in their communities.

 

  • Several local hubs have taken root including those in Bristol, Stamford and Danbury, where they are beginning to attract participants and press. Stamford's hub leader, RJ Mercedes, was featured in the Stamford news for his local activism. YES Stamford is also partnering with the local young professional networking group for a morning volunteer/networking day, and joining with three other organizations for a group bike ride to promote bicycle/pedestrian awareness and to highlight the new MyStamford app (their version of SeeClickFix). Meanwhile, the Danbury hub is working with the Cultural Alliance of Western CT to clean up vacant stores fronts and fill them with the work of local artists.
  • In addition, the statewide Steering Committee (of which CMSC's Communications Manager, Christine Schilke is a member) continues to advocate for more affordable housing, public transit and other amenities desired by young people. Mark Walerysiak, Jr., YES Steering Committee member and Community liaison for Bristol Rising! recently wrote a blog for the Partnership for Strong Communities on using cash mobs to support local businesses, saying that studies have shown up to three times the amount of money spent in local business is recirculated in the community versus a national-chain store.

Those interested in learning more about YES can join them for upcoming Pecha Kucha events in New Haven and in Stamford. (Editor's note: Pecha Kucha is an event where people make presentations of 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide on various topics. We didn't know either until they told us.) You can also check out YES's new website for the latest news, YES member bios and more information on the local hubs and how to get involved.

 

Governor Malloy Awards $1.5 Million to Develop CT Nonprofit Center 
 

Congratulations are in order as Governor Malloy recently announced the Corporation for Independent Living (CIL) and Connecticut Association of Nonprofits (CT Nonprofits) are the recipients of a $1.5 million Nonprofit Collaborative Incentive Grant. CIL President and CEO Martin Legault is on CMSC's Board of Directors.

 

The grant will be used to develop the CT Nonprofit Center in Hartford. The Center is designed to create a professional community where nonprofit leaders can share ideas, services and knowledge while lowering costs by sharing communal space and equipment.

 

CIL purchased the two-building campus comprising 86,000 square feet in June, 2013. CIL serves as the landlord and property manager, and has partnered with CT Nonprofits to serve as the operating manager.

 

The Center provides cost saving opportunities to the nonprofits in residence through below-market rent, shared meeting rooms, reception and kitchen space, high-speed internet and state-of-the-art equipment. The Center also serves as a space for nonprofit trainings, meetings, fundraisers and other community events in Hartford.

 

"The Collaborative Incentive Grant will allow CIL to complete extensive improvements that will improve energy efficiency, upgrade ADA accessibility and reconfigure space for our member agencies," said Mr. Legault in a statement.

 

The Center currently houses 10 nonprofit organizations with an additional three to five organizations expected to join by the end of 2014. The Center will accommodate another 10 - 20 nonprofits of varying sizes over the next five years.
Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence
Renewed Commitment to Main Street - Seymour Downtown Action Strategy: Master Plan for Seymour Greenway & Upland Trail
 
Participants: Seymour Economic Development Commission, Seymour Downtown Committee, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, Naugatuck River Greenway Steering Committee, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, Downtown Merchants Association, Planimetrics, Milone and MacBroom, State of CT DEEP, and NOAA.


 

 

The goal was to change the community's perception of Downtown Seymour: downtown is the treasure and the heart of the Seymour community, the Naugatuck River is probably the community's greatest asset and must be connected to downtown, physically and programmatically. They also wanted to change the external perception of Seymour to: Downtown Seymour is a small, walkable place that invites people to live, work, invest, and play.   

 

Highlights: 

  • A 2011 CT Main Street Reconnaissance Visit and Walking Tour provided several recommendations intended to help the Town and private sector stakeholders organize around returning social and economic vibrancy to downtown Seymour.
  • The Town of Seymour hired Planimetrics to develop the 2012 Seymour Downtown Action Strategy, engaging the community through a series of public input sessions. Planimetrics created a thorough account of the issues facing downtown, and suggested a "Top Ten List" of actions, to help the Town focus its efforts along the lines of the Main Street Four Point Approach, and identify the roles of stakeholders. Number 10 on the list recommended extending trails and walkways to open up the Naugatuck river front and waterfalls and connecting this unique asset to downtown.
  • In 2012 the Town, working with consultants Milone and MacBroom, began developing a Master Plan for Greenway Trails and Linear Park. At the same time, Seymour was collaborating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the CT Dept of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in creating a $4.25 million Tingue Dam Fish Bypass Ladder to encourage reestablishing migratory fish patterns.

Major Accomplishments:

  • The Greenway master plan was adopted by the community in December 2013. The planning document will help create a solid foundation for the Town to continue to invest in Downtown, creating amenities for residents and visitors to enjoy while creating areas for social interaction.
  • The design is of a contiguous riverside trail that maximizes pedestrian safety and connects users with the Naugatuck River Corridor, making it a true "greenway" and connecting it to Downtown.
  • The Town continues to move forward on the plan, exploring availability of federal transportation assistance to construct the initial phases of the Seymour Greenway Trail and Linear Park. 

Congratulations to Seymour!

  

Pictures from the 2014 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here. 

Re-Mains of the Day 

 

Photo Credit: Hartford Courant

Simsbury placemaking inspires its neighbors to the north. A civic group from Leeds, MA stopped by Simsbury last month to talk to the people behind the restoration of Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge. A similar iron bridge in Leeds has been deemed unsafe, and they now want to restore it to a pedestrian bridge like the one in Connecticut. The group was especially impressed with how the Drake Hill bridge has been beautified and adorned with flowers and are turning to the Simsbury group for more information on how to get started.    

 

The NW Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative combats summer boredom with its "Nothing to Do?" campaign. Posters listing regional events and activities were created as part of their Secret Corner marketing initiative, and have been posted around the nine towns and villages comprising the Collaborative. The group is utilizing a Preservation of Place (POP) grant from CMSC to activate their Main Streets, coordinating and publicizing the many events, sales and activities put on by local merchants. 

   
Cafémantic gets what is possibly the best New York Times food review in history
 
Photo Credit: George Ruhe for The New York Times
-
Willimantic's Cafémantic, owned by Andrew Gutt, former president of Thread City Development, a CMSC member community, received a stupendous review from the New York Times. The author's article raved about the small plates prepared by Chef Jonathan Hudak, opening the article by saying he was still thinking about the perfect pepper he ate there a week before. Among the reviewer's many accolades he writes, "These dishes may test your capacity to share," "Salads hit perfect taste notes," and, "One after another, the hits kept coming."
  

Elizabeth Stocker begins new position in Norwalk - After 24 years, Liz. Stocker announced in July that she was stepping down as the Newtown Director of Community and Economic Development. She began a new position earlier this month heading up the Norwalk Economic Development Agency. She is also currently serving her second term as president of the Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS). Ms. Stocker was praised by her Newtown colleagues who applauded her for her work bringing new businesses and grant monies to the town, and for her role in the Sandy Hook Streetscape project. 

President's Message 

Aiding the New Downtown Pioneers: How CMSC is bridging the young/old connection  

As much as we love downtowns and champion their revitalization, one of the hard realities is that our town and city centers often go through cycles of boom and bust. Once glamorous Main Streets become passé, fall into disrepair, are neglected, or wedged apart through poor planning and design, only to once again be transformed into the latest hot spot. New York City, downtown New Haven and Main Street, Middletown are all prime examples of places that were prosperous, faltered, but are once again blossoming.

  

Part of these revivals is due to "pioneers" - those willing to be among the first in a neighborhood still in transition. As a generalization, it used to be the young fringe that comprised this group, students and artists who for cost or cultural reasons congregated in these less than perfect areas. They, of course, made the places cool so that everyone else wanted to be there, eventually raising the whole neighborhood up.

  

This remains true today, and most of us have heard time and again that it is the young Millennial generation who is leading the charge for mixed-use city centers. Not wanting to drive, they are seeking walkable places with a variety of transit options, close to their jobs and with an assortment of interesting activities. However, like many of you, we've been hearing more and more over the last year or so about how older Baby Boomers are also embracing the role of pioneer, leaving their suburban homesteads for the vitality and interest of downtown. Together these Baby Boomers and young Millennials increasingly share a common goal of creating more walkable, livable communities that embrace housing, shopping, entertainment, business and public transit choices.   

  

These qualities mirror those long espoused by Connecticut Main Street Center. Key to a healthy downtown, they encourage social interaction, economic vigor, a sense of community and environmental stewardship. That's why we're growing how we connect with these groups, partnering with the likes of Young Energetic Solutions (YES) and the Legislative Commission on Aging's Livable Communities initiative. We're gathering data, sharing stories and learning from each other about how best to achieve our goals. To that end, in addition to supporting the YES events mentioned above, I encourage you to check out the Commission's annual report, which offers compelling information on why it's so critical to begin planning for Connecticut's aging population. An entry by our Communications Manager, Christine Schilke, on how Millennials and Baby Boomers both want diverse, walkable neighborhoods will also soon appear on the Commission's blog.

  

Both of these groups represent the future of Connecticut's downtowns - one is the population we'll have, the other is the population we'll seek. How lucky for us they want the same things! CMSC is proud to work alongside them, and with the many others who believe our downtowns' best days lay ahead, and that we can be the pioneers who shape them.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141

860/280.2337

www.ctmainstreet.org

 

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In This Issue
The YES Generation

Govenor Malloy Awards $1.5 Million to Develop CT Nonprofit Center

Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence: Seymour Downtown Action Strategy
 
Re-Mains of the Day - Simsbury placemaking inspires its neighbors to the north; NW Regional Planning Collaborative combats summer boredom with "Nothing to Do?" campaign; Cafemantic receives  fantastic review from the New York Times; Liz Stocker headed to Norwalk.
 
President's Message:
Aiding the New Downtown Pioneers - How CMSC is Bridging the Young/Old Connection
Upcoming Events

 

Stamford YES  & YPN Volunteer/Networking Day

Stamford

August 16

Register & More Info 

 

YES Pecha Kucha Event

Bentara  

New Haven

August 27

More Info 

 

CMSC Offices Closed for Labor Day

September 1   

 

YES Stamford Event - Inaugural Stamford Street Sweep

September 14

Register & More Info 

 

EPA Area-Wide Planning Grant Application Due

September 22

More Info 

 

CMSC/CEDAS Member Networking Event

Westville Village

New Haven

September 23

 

CT Housing Coalition 2014 Annual Conference

Hartford 

September 24

Register & More Info 

 

SNEAPA Conference

Providence, RI

October 23-24

Register & More Info 

 

 

Neil S. Pade,
  AICP

Director of Planning & Community Development

Town of Canton
 

Neil S. Pade, AICP is a certified land use planner with over a decade of professional experience in the municipal and private sectors in Connecticut. He is presently the Director of Planning and Community Development for the Town of Canton and serves as the Town's representative to the Capital Region Council of Governments Transportation Committee and Bicycle/ Pedestrian Committee. He is also on the Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, a legislatively created group committed to fully integrating walking, bicycling, and transit use into Connecticut's transportation system.

 

Neil has previously served as the Town Planner and the Economic Development Coordinator for the Town of Vernon and as an Environmental Planner in the private sector. He is on the Executive Committee of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association and is a life-time member of the National Eagle Scout Association.

 

Through his practice as a professional planner he consistently promotes improving quality of life standards and community health through the integration of bicycle and pedestrian considerations in the course of planning and development activities.

 

 

We celebrate Neil for his efforts to support downtown revitalization.  

 

WAY TO GO NEIL!! 


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