Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.15, Issue 1           

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.
CMSC Reviews Its Members Services Offerings

In January 2005, CMSC expanded membership and program offerings to municipalities and community organizations that wanted to become part of the Connecticut Main Street Network. Until this time, CMSC followed the model of the National Main Street Center, limiting membership to only those communities that committed to forming a nonprofit volunteer-driven organization, hiring a professional executive director, and sticking to a prescribed committee-led program of work, intended to revitalize a downtown or neighborhood commercial district incrementally. CMSC made the change after wrestling for many years with the reality that the national model was not addressing the needs of many of Connecticut's town centers and urban mixed-use neighborhoods.


Now ten years later it's clear we made the right decision - making the Main Street Approach to Downtown Revitalization available to many more communities while still allowing for the individual pace of each community. In fact, our membership has grown 600% since then! Even so, CMSC recognizes that after a decade, it's time to look again at what we offer our members, making sure our services our aligned with our strategic direction and the needs of Connecticut's communities.


This past fall, CMSC staff formed a Member Services Task Force to begin discussing the future direction of Main Street in Connecticut, focusing especially on the resources and technical assistance that is needed by managed downtown programs. CMSC continues to refine our menu of benefits and services and the expectations of membership. Stay tuned, as we plan to introduce our enhanced member services program this spring.

Connecticut Gets Energized
Electric vehicle charging stations like this one are finding a home in Connecticut. Photo credit:

There are a lot of resources available for energy issues facing our municipalities and residents.  Read below for a few of the activities taking place across the state.  

  • CT DEEP Grant Available 

Planning Professionals can learn more about CT DEEP's Open Space & Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program & Urban Green/Community Garden Initiative at an upcoming lunchtime Q&A session on January 20.


The grant was announced by CT DEEP in October, and applications are due on March 1, 2015. The purpose of the grants is to assist municipalities, land conservation organizations and water companies with the purchase and preservation of open space lands, or to construct, improve, or restore a community garden/urban green through the State of Connecticut Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program (OSWA) and Urban Green/Community Garden Initiative. 


The public information session will feature CT DEEP staff and provide information about eligibility for both programs and the items needed to submit a complete application. The session is free but RSVP is required. Contact CLCC Executive Director Amy B. Paterson at or UConn Extension Sustainable Food System Educator Jiff Martin at


Session Information

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

12:00 - 2:00pm

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Sage Hall Room 24

205 Prospect Street

New Haven, CT 06511 

  • Sign up for CT DEEP newsletter

CT DEEP has a free quarterly newsletter for anyone interested in energy issues facing Connecticut. Your Environmental Connection contains timely information on programs, resources and topics of interest to municipalities, businesses and others. You'll find information on topics such as:

-       How your town can promote use of electric vehicles by installing charging stations in major traffic areas.

-       How business owners can save money on their company's recycling programs.

-       New energy and environmental legislation.


Click here to view the latest edition of Your Environmental Connection.  To subscribe, visit CT DEEP's newsletter subscription page. Under "E-mail Lists" at the bottom of the page, be sure to select the last box, "Your Environmental Connection" before selecting "Sign Up".

  • New Keeping It Green podcast talks about CT energy issues
The CT Fund for the Environment (CFE) is launching a new podcast, Keeping It Green. The show will be hosted by CFE staff attorney Shannon Smyth, and offer a reliable source of information and news about energy, climate, and other environmental issues in Connecticut.

A podcast is essentially a recorded radio show that can be listened to on a computer or other device on demand. The first episode on electric cars can be heard by visiting: .

Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence
New London Main Street  
Board Member & Volunteer of the Year  

Board Member of the Year - Renee Fournier

Renee Fournier first volunteered for New London Main Street in 1999 when she co-produced an event with Mitchell College, where she worked at the time. She and Penny Parsekian, then CEO of New London Main Street, went on to co-produce many events, some of which, like Fish Tales, Tugs and Sails, remain signature New London events to this day. Renee has worked tirelessly for New London Main Street, even before she was elected to the board of directors in 2011.    


Renee quickly moved through the ranks, becoming first Vice President, then Co-President and finally President of the Board in 2013. During her tenure, she used her marketing and communication skills to help guide the organization through a time of upheaval with grace and leadership. Renee also oversaw the hiring of NLMS's first new Executive Director in over a decade, and continues to go out of her way to immerse the Executive Director in the community.   


As Board President, Renee illustrates her deep commitment for New London and NLMS by instilling enthusiasm in other members, staff and volunteers. She is New London Main Street's most proactive ambassador, wearing her "Main Street Hat" at all times. Renee's finest memory as a member of the board is accompanying the judges of Main Street's 2013 Spring Food Stroll as they visited the winning restaurants to announce that they had won. The gratitude of the restaurant owners, the community cheer and support, and the overall New London spirit was so high that Renee realized in that moment just how valued the work of New London Main Street is by the community.


The staff at New London Main Street and Renee's fellow board members thank her for her service and her enthusiasm.

Volunteer of the Year - Jordan Whipple

Jordan Whipple, a life-long New London resident, appeared in the office at New London Main Street in early 2014 with a little time on his hands and looking to be of service to the community. He had no idea that New London Main Street had just the job for him - a job which he performed reliably, thoughtfully and thoroughly.


It just so happened that NLMS's web-based calendar of events - among the most popular web result when Googling New London - had fallen on hard times. All of that changed when Jordan accepted the volunteer job of establishing new benchmarks for the calendar policies and procedures, writing a guide, and manually harvesting and entering all details about an event. The calendar of events has improved exponentially. The positive feedback from the community about the calendar and the publication it feeds, This Week in New London, and the success of events that are listed are proof that the New London Main Street calendar has, once again, become a critical tool for promoting the City.  


NLMS is a small organization with limited resources, yet Jordan demonstrated volunteerism excellence with his willingness to see a project through without pay, often without sufficient thanks and with minimal guidance. When no longer able to dedicate the same amount of time to New London Main Street due to the requirements of his day job, Jordan trained new volunteers to take over, worked up to the last second of his commitment, and offered to come back when his work's busy season lets up.


The staff and board of New London Main Street are extremely thankful to Jordan for reviving this important community tool and look forward to his return.

Congratulations to the New London Main Street Team!


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 


Torrington invites residents to Torrington Walks! workshop - The City of Torrington is holding a public one-day design workshop to identify action steps to connect downtown sidewalks with the Naugatuck River Greenway and surrounding woodland trails. The event will be held on January 22nd, from 8am-5pm. Torrington residents are encouraged to participate in the workshop, which will be moderated by John Monroe from the National Park Service Rivers & Trails Program. For more information, click here.


New iForums begin soon - The Partnership for Strong Communities is kicking off its 2015 iForum series with Connecticut Needs Housing Choices. . . AND Mobility! on January 28th. Mobility issues such as help moving, security deposit assistance, and counseling on how to succeed in a new community could mean the difference between low- and moderate-income families staying put or taking advantage of new affordable homes being created. Listen as speakers discuss the crucial elements that can keep families from accessing higher-resource schools and communities with the jobs, services and transit access they need. Click here for more information and to register.


National Parks Service & National Endowment for the Arts grant opportunity
- Projects that use the arts to engage people with memorable places and landscapes of the National Park system could be eligible for "Imagine Your Parks," a grant program providing $1 million in funding through the NEA Art Works grant category. The National Park System includes not only national parks, but also national historic sites, trails, rivers, seashores, landmarks and national monuments, heritage areas, preserves, battlefields, recreation areas, and more.  "Imagine Your Parks" will also support projects that promote public engagement in urban environments, or that engage younger generations with the National Park System. Projects may take place at and around the National Park System, or may take place elsewhere in the United States with a focus on the work and mission of the National Park Service. For more information, click here.

President's Message 

Create your day, create your future   

You may have heard the motto, "create your day, create your future," which is a favorite of our Communications Manager. The idea is that by making today the best, most productive day it can be, consciously making one decision at a time to move us toward our goals, we stack together a series of successful individual days, thereby creating the future we desired.


At CMSC, some of our goals and initiatives - to facilitate mixed-use development in our downtowns; to add reliable, convenient transit throughout the state; to create walkable communities that accommodate all users; to educate residents, city and state officials about the importance and value of these things - can seem overwhelmingly large. At times it's hard to tell if we're making progress, especially when we hear again and again that "it can't be done" - with "it" being anything from bringing housing to our downtowns to having less parking spaces on our Main Streets.


Still we carry on, doing what we can, making calls, holding meetings, hosting workshops. Suddenly we see our efforts bearing fruit. Meetings with property owners about the obstacles to mixed-use development turn into conversations with colleagues about how we can help. Subsequent calls to partners coalesce into a collation that proposes draft legislation. Legislation that we hope will pass and enable what we once thought nearly impossible - facilitating more mixed-use development in our downtowns.


At CMSC, we believe we can and are making a difference to Connecticut's downtowns. Through our continued efforts each and every day we're building better town centers as we share the value and importance of these places. Because when we string together a series of successful todays, all of a sudden we find we didn't just create our day, we created our future.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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In This Issue
CMSC Reviews Its Member Services

Connecticut Gets Energized

Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence: New London Main Street Board Member & Volunteer of the Year Awards
Re-Mains of the Day: Torrington invites public to Torrington Walks! workshop; New iForums begin soon; National Park Services & National Endowment for the Arts team up to provide $1 million grant
President's Message:
Create your day, create your future
Upcoming Events


CMSC Offices Closed for Martin Luther King Day 

January 19  


CT DEEP Open Space & Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program & Urban Green/Community Garden Initiative

Q&A Session

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

January 20 


iForum: CT Needs Housing Choices . . AND Mobility

The Lyceum


January 28

Register & More Info 


CMSC Awards of Excellence entries due

March 10


CTfastrak Opens

March 28 


2015 Awards Gala

New Britain

June 8 



Chris Heitmann,
Executive Director, Westville Village Renaissance Alliance, a Designated Main Street Program

As WVRA Executive Director, Chris Heitmann works to stimulate small business and cultural opportunities in this eclectic area of New Haven.  


Under his leadership the volunteer-driven organization helps support local businesses and promotes the area's well-known artistic and cultural community through several live events, such as ArtWalk and the giant puppet parade.


Under Chris's direction, WVRA also serves as a clearing house for neighborhood information and supports the CitySeed Farmers Market. He also spearheaded efforts to assist the residents and owner of Delaney's Restaurant and Tap Room, a neighborhood institution that was destroyed in a fire in 2014. He has also advocated for traffic-calming measures to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.


Prior to moving to Westville in 2006, Chris worked for the Project for Public Spaces for several years where he specialized in the field of public markets and community revitalization. He has a background in youth programming and education and taught elementary and middle-school aged children in a variety of settings. A bicycle enthusiast, he also co-founded Bike Works, a youth bicycle-education and redistribution program in Southeast Seattle and served as a road and mountain bike tour guide across the US and Canada.



We celebrate Chris for his efforts to support downtown revitalization.  



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