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City Looks at New Paving, Signage

The Downtown Streetscape Working Group looked at options Wednesday for new sidewalks, signage and was updated on possible new sculptures as part of the $21 million Streetscape Project.

Mayor Tim O’Brien opened the meeting with an announcement that a new City project has been approved that calls for High Tech Sculptures at Walnut Hill Park. The project works with the New Britain Museum of American Art and the parks department.

Much of the meeting focused on the options of designs for new paving and signage.

“It (paving) will change the entire look of downtown New Britain,” said Mark Moriarty, public works director. “It’s only a month from now we have to make a decision and it is about as important a decision we as a committee have to make.”

The committee saw examples from other towns of brick and cement sidewalks.

Most group members were in favor of brilliant brick colors compared to cement which was said to fade.

“The thing is concrete is cheaper than brick,” said Moriarty. “Our money will not go as far if we use brick.”

Brick cost three times more than concrete.

Members also like raised beds on the sidewalks, but wanted to be sure there was dense plants to prevent vandalism. Another option discussed was the possibility of adding a dining area to Central Park.

In a month a decision also needs to be made about the size, shape and color of signage.

“Wayfinding Signage will go out to bid this fall,” said Moriarty. “Our wayfinding signage right now is all over the place.”

Ruth Baxter of Rumney Associates, said the goals for signage included directing parking, pedestrian direction and getting people out of the City

“We want them to easily find Route 72 or Route 9,” Baxter said. “You come, you park and you are directed how to get out of here.”

Some of the destinations the signs will highlight are City Hall/Board of Education; the Theater District; the New Britain Public Library; the courthouse, the police station; YMCA; CCSU; the shopping district; Walnut Hill Park; Hospital of Central Connecticut; Broad St.; the Busway and parking garages.

The City presently has a color palette for signs that is maroon, gold, blue (for parking) and green (for the Busway).

Baxter made two suggestions. Option one was adding teal and a pale gray. Option two added charcoal gray and white for the main signs.

“This would allow it to pop yet you can coordinate it with what you have,” said Baxter.

She also suggested that frames and structures remain in black so that historic and iconic elements can be incorporated.

“The framework could be unique to New Britain,” said Baxter.

Baxter said she based framework on a hanger and said pole mounted signs could have a finial on top such as a beehive or the winged monument.

Each district could have a different finial if it chooses.

Colored banners for each section could also be included to identify where people are located.

“They can be switched for special events,” said Baxter. “They will create a sense of place.”

The group also looked at the updated Downtown Streetscape Study on traffic, engineering, typography and parking.