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Downtown District Holds Annual Meeting

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Mayor Stewart Talks of New Events Downtown

The New Britain Downtown District held its 32nd Annual Meeting at the Timothy T. Stewart Community Room at the police department Wednesday.

Guest speaker Mayor Erin E. Stewart told district members about what has taken place downtown as well as new happenings.

Central Park, which is Phase 3 of the Streetscape plan, was completed recently and new grants have expanded the phases for the plan.

“A lot of people who work downtown are coming out of their holes and taking a walk and getting lunch,” said Mayor Stewart. “We are hoping to build on that. We are thinking about moving the trucks into Central Park to allow parking spaces to be freed up. Our goal is to increase foot traffic. We are bringing a lot of attention to it.”

Stewart said the project is moving down Main St. near Amato’s Toy Store and will move to Bank St. which will be renovated. A round-a-bout will also go there.

“We are reducing the amount of accidents around the downtown area,” Stewart said. “We will be digging up Milewski Park and moving the fountain down a bit.”

The City is working with Pan Am Railways to try to get a walkway over the tracks.

The old New Britain Police Department will be taken down by mid-summer. Stewart is in negotiations with a developer for that property.

“I anticipate they will be a member of the Downtown District,” Stewart added. “All the work we have been doing has certainly been exciting. We are transforming downtown into a new place. We are getting national accolades.”

The City is applying for a TIGER Grant which will expand the streetscape past the old police department and around the post office. It would include another round-a-bout at the end of the Truman Overpass.

Stewart also mentioned the purchase of the Hatch Building hoping the New Britain Chamber of Commerce may consider moving in there as their sign is still up.

The City recently received a $3 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority to link all the downtown traffic lights. The lights will sense when cars are at lights so they can turn green faster.

“Eventually we would like to do that for the entire City, but it is very expensive,” said Stewart. “It will just be done in the quarter mile radius downtown.”

The Downtown District also approved a $225,000 budget for 2016-17 at the meeting and approved commissioners including Frank Shank as chairman and Leo Gagne as vice chairman, Steven Amato as secretary and Justine Moriarty as treasurer.

Shank said at last year’s meeting he asked Stephen Hard to read “The Trail” by Sam Foss as it talks about transition.

“The reason I wanted to tell this story is because isn’t this the story of New Britain and in turn of all us who have come to make our stake here?” said Shank. “I believe we invested in downtown because we believe that this is a good investment that offers the property owners and the community a valuable commitment to its citizens in making it a better place to be.”

Gerry Amodio, downtown district director, spoke about seeing the forest through the trees. He highlighted the City’s accomplishments including Central Park, NewBrite Plaza, the Herald Building, the old Taco Bell building and more.

“We aren’t back, we never went away,” said Amodio. “Like Lady Liberty, standing strong against all foes, a step back from the forest and seeing all the trees that are held within.”

The purpose of the downtown district is to help develop New Britain’s downtown aesthetically, socially and culturally. The activity of the District focuses on the creation and maintenance of an optimal environment for businesses, residents and visitors where everyone feels welcome, safe and can enjoy shopping, eating and being entertained.