Mayor Erin E. Stewart, state Department of Transportation representatives, local planning officials and members of the Common Council held a Streetscape groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday at Central Park.
The ceremony marked the start of the renovations to Central Park as part of Phase III of the city’s Complete Streets and Downtown Livability Master Plan.
The Mayor spoke briefly about the project, stating that it “includes ripping what we’re standing on right now up, and extending it, and elongating it, and making it a much more beautiful park to… hang out in, if you will.”
The $4.2 million construction project includes expanding the size of Central Park by approximately 25 percent and implementing aesthetic improvements, such as brick paver sidewalks, granite seating areas, and landscaping additions.
Director of Public Works, Mark Moriarty, summarized the improvements included in and the schedule of the Plan.
“This phase of the Streetscape is really exciting,” he said. “Downtown New Britain is changing; we’re reshaping ourselves.”
Moriarty detailed improvements to be made during Phase III, specifically more attractive and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks extending from Central Park to the corner of High and Main, down to part of Chestnut Street and up Main Street to the overpass. He gave listeners a description of later phases and their improvements, including aesthetic and functional enhancements on the overpass and at the local bus depot on Bank Street.
“It’s really going to take this center part of town and transform it into what’s going to be a much more lively place,” said Mayor Stewart. “Look, as we’re getting more people coming to downtown New Britain to use the Fastrak, to utilize all of the mass transit that’s coming here, we need to start capitalizing on investing in what we can control.”
“That means we’re going to put food trucks on the side here,” she said motioning to the area near Central Park where Main Street businesses presently have their customers park. “We’re going to put farmers markets in Central Park.”
“We’re going to give West Hartford Center a run for their money.”
The Mayor grabbed her shovel and lined-up with Alderpersons Carlo Carlozzi, Tonilynn Collins, Shirley Black, Adam Platosz and Don Naples, as well as Mark Moriarty and Chris Polkowski, Engineering Project Manager for the City. The group broke ground beneath the American flag and wished each other a successful project.
Work on the project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016.