By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Whether gearing up for streetscape and road projects or bringing in new businesses, towns and cities of the central Connecticut have reported a variety of enhancements to look forward to.
During the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce’s 2015 State of the City and Town Breakfast held at Nuchie’s last Thursday, municipal leaders provided an update on their community’s current economy and economic development. Sponsored by Farmington Bank, ESPN, Bristol Hospital, Liberty Bank, Covanta Energy, Thomaston Savings Bank, HealthyCT and Webster Bank, the event featured representatives from all seven chambers within the Central CT Chambers of Commerce.
From working on the turf field project at the high school to passing a property maintenance ordinance to improving roads, Plainville had a lot to say about its current economy. In April, the budget passed a referendum on the first round for the fourth year in a row. Last year, Standard and Poor increased Plainville’s rating to AA+.
“Plainville is doing very well,” said Town Council Chairperson Kathy Pugliese. “We are thriving and we are in extremely financially good shape.”
Besides establishing a property maintenance ordinance and including monies in this year’s budget to demolish Old Linden Street School, the town is looking forward to completing the turf field project at Plainville High School this fall. The project is made possible by a $900,000 state grant and a $500,000 grant from the Tinty Foundation.
“We are blessed to have the Tinty family be a part of Plainville—they have supported a lot of our activities,” said Pugliese. “It will be a great enhancement, it will enable a great many of youth sport activities to participate on the turf field.”
Plainville also recently celebrated the grand opening of Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. The center’s hospital area faces New Britain, while its offices face Plainville.
“We were very happy to be a part of this project,” said Pugliese, adding how the building is welcoming. “It was a long, multi-year project that’s now up and running.”
Plainville also now has an electric vehicle charging station at town hall, which was made possible through a grant. There also is a charging station at the high school.
“We’re encouraging that type of technology,” said Pugliese. We’re looking forward to people using it.”
Other projects, Plainville has been working on include the installation LED lighting, pursuing grants to make improvements at Robertson Airport, and repaving the parking lot at the senior center as well as refurbishing the Northwest Drive Bridge. In addition, the state will repave New Britain Avenue.
Plainville residents approved a $5 million road bond project at referendum last month. The project will take place over a five-year period.
“We’re hoping to pave approximately $1 million a year during the paving season,” said Pugliese. “We’re going to get our roads in good shape.”
Like Plainville, other communities also are working on their roads after the long winter months. This year, 10 miles of road will be reconstructed in Wolcott.
“It hasn’t been upgraded in many years,” said Wolcott Mayor Thomas Dunn, adding that the reconstruction will benefit the town’s school projects.
Wolcott also has a new dog park, which will celebrate a grand opening soon, and a walking trail is currently being built.
“We’re making great progress on it—the bridges are in, the walkways are in,” said Dunn. “It’s a great walk, it’s a beautiful area.”
Situated as a gateway between the northwest corner, the Farmington valley and the Bristol-Southington-Plainville corridor, Burlington completed a streetscape and sidewalk installation in its central business district last year, and recently completed a two-mile reconstruction of its Rails to Trails. Upcoming projects include a library expansion, among others.
“Overall, we’re continuing to move forward with infrastructure enhancements to better position ourselves for the growth and development,” said First Selectman Theodore Shafer.
Despite dealing with the aftermath of $800,000 stolen by its comptroller last year, the town of Plymouth continues to move forward with a variety of projects, including a streetscape project downtown and bridge repairs. Besides putting in new sidewalks and light poles downtown, Plymouth Mayor David Merchant said the town also is working on a Safe Walk to School project to create more sidewalks for children as well as a waterwheel project.
Other future projects include remodeling the fire station and working with the Connecticut Department of Transportation to remodel Route 6.
“We want to widen that road…put some on-street parking, take down a few buildings,” said Merchant, who announced he will seek reelection in November. “That’s going to be a major improvement in town.”
Plymouth also added a new taxpayer, Inland Fuels, which is building a propane distribution center.
“They will be our largest taxpayer, once they’re complete,” said Merchant, adding how there are several expansions happening in the town’s industrial park.
One of the most diverse towns statewide with just shy of a thousand businesses, Bloomfield is undertaking 58 capital projects on an annual basis from streetscape projects to bridge repairs to facility activities.
“There’s a lot going on in terms of…the financial base for the town,” said Bloomfield Town Manager Phil Schenck, adding how the town received a bond rating increase last year.
In Bristol, activity has continued to spur in the area of manufacturing, and the city has continued providing tax incentives and grants to businesses relocating or expanding. Recently, GMN received a $150,000 grant to build a new facility in Bristol. A German-based company that specializes in spindle manufacturing and repair, GMN is located in the Southeast Bristol Business Park.
At approximately 51 acres, Mayor Ken Cockayne said the business park continues to be instrumental for manufacturers. Two building lots now have existing operations, and a third lot was sold last September to GMN.
“The city continues to aggressively market the park to manufacturers and other potential tenants, with several parties expressing interest in just the past few months,” said Cockayne.
Although redeveloping Depot Square has continued to be a challenge for Bristol, the green space at the corner of Riverside Avenue and North Main Street will be used for a variety of community events, including the Farmers Market.
“The city is in relatively sound economic shape,” said Cockayne, adding how efforts have continued to address blight. “The outlook for Bristol’s future is positive.”
By LISA CAPOBIANCO