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Grants will create more Connecticut jobs

Posted on September 22, 2014

About 13 municipalities across Connecticut are being awarded $5 million in grants in order to create more Connecticut jobs and improve commercial districts.

The goal is to attract small businesses, grow jobs, and improve pedestrian access and livability in town centers.

The grants are part of the state’s Main Street Investment Fund, which is administered through the state Department of Housing.

The Main Street Investment Fund provides financial incentives to eligible municipalities as well as owners of commercial private properties for expenditures that directly support and enhance a qualified project. Awards are no more than $500,000 and can be used for expenses such as building improvements, signage, lighting, and streetscape improvements.

The funded projects are:

Berlin has been awarded $204,300 for the second phase of the Berlin Main Street Streetscape project. The project will continue new sidewalks, permeable pavers and street trees on the New Britain Road and Farmington Avenue sides of the Kensington Center Triangle. A new crosswalk and a permeable paver accent walk will be installed around Deming Park at the Kensington Road entry to the triangle. Also, a permeable paver accent will be added at the Farmington Avenue entry to the triangle, as well as new decorative lights throughout the project area.

Bethel will receive $290,149 to improve the town’s commercial center. The project — to include new sidewalks, accessibility ramps, signage, streetscape, and safety improvements — will create a walkable and ADA compliant downtown by improving public safety and pedestrian access, creating a community gathering place, and increasing recreational opportunities.

Coventry will use its $405,000 award to implement various elements of the South Coventry Village Plan. The plan calls to extend the sidewalk on Main Street to serve town hall, the police station, Orchard Hill Active Adult Community, a day care, and a church; make improvements to the historic Tracey Shoddy Mill; and create a pocket park by Teleflex Medical on Main Street.

Farmington plans to use its $425,000 award to implement recommendations of the comprehensive design plan for the revitalization of Unionville Center. Along the northern side of Rt. 177, the town is proposing a complete streetscape project of 1,900 linear feet, linking the New Horizons Village to Unionville. As part of this project, a loop of improved sidewalk will be created along Mill, Platner, and School streets. The improved sidewalks would promote greater pedestrian accessibility, improve aesthetics, and increase foot traffic to the various businesses in the area.

New London has been awarded $500,000 to improve pedestrian access to businesses in the downtown commercial area. Funds will be used to complete improvements along Eugene O’Neill Drive, transforming the car-focused thoroughfare with difficult to find parking with directional and way-finding signage, improved lighting, enhanced pedestrian connections, and trees appropriate for an urban setting. Activities will include site improvements, sidewalk improvements, site planting/lighting, etc.

Newington will begin the next phase of the Town Center Development Program with its $470,000 award. Plans call for improved pedestrian connectivity between the “Constitution Square” municipal parking lot and existing businesses on Main, Market Square, and East Cedar streets with nearby senior and workforce residential buildings on Constance Leigh Drive and the retail Plaza on Lowrey Place.

Norfolk will use its $500,000 award to convert a five-acre wetland, meadow, and hillside — colonized by invasive plant species — into a storm water park called City Meadow, complete with boardwalks and resting places utilizing low-impact development techniques. This innovative project will save a threatened pocket of wetlands and allow residents and visitors to pass through to appreciate the diverse ecosystem. Project activities include restoration of wetlands, pond creation, stone swales/site stabilization, public access improvements, retaining walls, trails, timber bridges/decks, and landscaping.