The Board of Finance unanimously approved $400,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the planning, design work, and permitting for the redevelopment of Parker Harding Plaza, Jesup Green, and the Imperial Lot.
Pete Ratkiewich, the town’s director of public works, said that these projects which are adjacent to the downtown area are covered by ARPA because they help bring “business into town to stimulate the economy and stimulate it permanently by making these improvements.”
“This project is in the capital plan in many line items, so we combined them all to get a conceptual plan that’s consistent with the entire downtown area,” he said.
Ratkiewich said they chose to go with Langan, an engineering company that has previously worked on projects around the downtown area. He noted that Langan and its employees “have a lot of relationships with the owners downtown,” and he estimated that they had done some type of work with about 80% of the parcels of land in and around the downtown project.
He also emphasized that their presentation emphasized public outreach, which was important to the town.
“This is going to be a project that we really need to reach out and get feedback from the community,” he said.
The town is covering all of the pre-construction work, but First Selectwoman Jen Tooker said her staff would be looking into public-private partnerships to help cover the full cost of the project, which is estimated to be about $3.7 million.
“This part of the process we are willing to fund—going forward we’re absolutely expecting public private partnership as we get into construction,” she said.
Members of the Board of Finance said that they were glad to see this project moving forward.
“This is an extremely important project for downtown—we’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Board of Finance Member Brian Stern.
Stern said that this project will “change the face of downtown.”
Randy Herbertson, who is the chair of the town’s Downtown Plan Implementation Committee and president of the Downtown Merchants Association, voiced his support for the plans.
“We’re very excited this is a holistic plan,” he said. “It’s really exciting—we’ve already had a lot of public engagement. This project affords us the opportunity to take this further.”