Mayor Stewart’s July NBHerald Column: Update on Summer construction/development

Summer has only just begun but it’s already been a busy one in New Britain! At last count, there were more than a half dozen major construction projects underway or about to begin, including our annual paving program. And who doesn’t love driving on a new road?

On June 15, we cut the ribbon at A.W. Stanley Park, where there is now a new pool, bathhouse, and other amenities that residents have long requested. According to attendance figures from our Parks and Recreation Department, the new pool is a smash hit!

Six days later, we had an official grand opening to mark the most recent improvements to the skateboard park at Stanley Quarter Park.

As you may have seen already, the rehabilitation of the Main Street overpass-aka the Beehive Bridge-has taken shape and is moving along quickly and on budget. State and federal dollars are making this a reality. Over several days in June, the first colorful side of panels went up. During the second week of July, workers will begin installing the colorful panels on the other side. Thank you for your patience as this work, and the neighboring road improvements on East Main Street, take place!

In early August, work will wrap up on Eddy Glover Boulevard. This project began last spring and involved reconfiguring a section of the boulevard between McClintock Street and Commonwealth Avenue to reduce accidents.

Other improvements include an expanded park, new landscaping, new sidewalks, ADA upgrades, and more.

At Smalley Elementary School, work is nearly finished. In early September, students in the North Oak area will be greeted with a newly renovated school that has more classrooms, improved safety features, and better traffic flow. The state will reimburse us nearly 80 percent of the construction costs.

On the East Side, we’ve broken ground on Phase 2 of the Chesley Park improvements.

In 2015, a new synthetic turf field was added on the southern portion of the park; now, on the other side, work is underway for a new playground, new basketball courts, a picnic pavilion, new walkways, and other features to bring this heavily-used park up to date and more welcoming.

New Britain is very blessed to have great partners at the state and federal government. Most of these projects qualify for state and federal grants, covering more than 75 percent of all the work.

Our keyboards are busy typing away, writing and applying for every grant we can find.

These are just the city-owned projects! The amount of private developments underway is equally impressive.

The first five floors of Phase 1 of Columbus Commons are up and in only a few months, the first residents will start moving in. The Chrysalis Center has closed on the purchase of 57 Court St. and will soon renovate this historic building into 24 units of housing. On Washington Street, the long vacant Hatch building, a gem of Art Deco architecture, has been undergoing a complete, historic renovation to make way for its first new occupants in decades.

At 132 Main St., the four upper floors of the historic Andrews building will be converted from commercial space to 20, one-bedroom apartments to meet the growing demand for downtown housing. The building at 5 Arch St. is under new ownership and housing is being added there as well. There is lots of private money flowing into town and that is a good sign!

When we invest in our infrastructure, our parks, and our schools, we are maintaining our commitment to residents to make New Britain the best place it can be, while also signaling to developers that we are driven to create a more vibrant city.

While many municipalities conduct economic development studies and put those reports on the shelf, we are actively implementing its recommendations.

We have many more projects in the works. Stay tuned for the next announcements coming soon!

This column originally appeared in the New Britain Herald on July 1, 2019.