The State Bond Commission will meet on July 29, 2022, and five West Hartford-specific projects are expected to be approved.
By Ronni Newton
Among the hundreds of millions of dollars the State Bond Commission is expected to approve for funding when it meets July 29 are five West Hartford-specific projects totaling $8,906,664.
The funds will support a wide range of projects, including improvements to Park Road’s infrastructure, support for affordable units at West Hartford Fellowship Housing on Starkel Road, and work on “operational lanes” for a portion of I-84 in West Hartford that is currently under construction.
A total of $1.5 million is included on the agenda for a Park Road Rehabilitation project – updating the infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists, and providing a clear and distinctive identity for the neighborhood that enhances the experience for all.
Specifically planned are repaving the roadway between South Quaker Lane and Prospect Avenue, and the addition of new sidewalk surfaces, and amenities such as benches, street trees, bicycle hitches, wayfinding signage, business directories, and a community event board. Traffic-calming elements such as raised sidewalks are also contemplated.
As a gateway between West Hartford and the Parkville section of Hartford – where significant economic development is underway or in the planning stages – the improvements to Park Road are expected to provide additional opportunities for small businesses in both towns.
The funds for the work on I-84 total $1,911,664.
A total of $1,080,000 is on the agenda for the Trout Brook Trail will support the completion of Phase 6 – which is shovel-ready – a 2,900-foot-long section of the multi-use trail between Fern Street and Duffield Drive.
Once completed, the linear park, a 10-foot-wide paved path – will extend 3.5 miles, from New Park Avenue to Asylum Avenue. The trail is intended to be used for recreational purposes, as well as for commuters, increasing accessibility to and opportunity for businesses in the New Park Avenue, Elmwood, Blue Back Square, and Bishops Corner areas. Design work is underway and funding is secured for two other remaining sections which will complete the Trout Brook Trail.
“The projects themselves will really add to the town – making it more walkable and bike friendly – and that in turn helps small businesses,” state Sen. Derek Slap (D-West Hartford) said.
In addition, while the smallest amount – a total of $415,000 – is expected to be approved for the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, those funds will make a big difference to the local nonprofit.
“Receiving a state bond in the proposed amount would be transformational to the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society,” Executive Director Jennifer DiCola Matos told We-Ha.com. “The funds would allow us to complete and open the West Hartford History Center, which will ensure that the town’s history is properly preserved and accessible for future generations.” One of the uses of the funds will be the installation of archival shelving units.
“The fund would also allow us to make major improvements to the museum’s visitor center and help us launch our new social enterprise, the West Hartford Gift Shop. Both of these projects will allow the museum to better serve the community and be sustainable in the future,” Matos said.
The agenda also includes a $4 million grant-in-aid in support of preservation of 65 affordable apartments on Starkel Road – supporting a project being undertaken by West Hartford Fellowship Housing that has also received federal low-income tax credits. The grant-in-aid falls under the states’s Flexible Housing Program, which provides quality, affordable housing for Connecticut residents supporting homeownership and mixed income developments.
Many of the projects that will be supported through funds approved on the Bond Commission Agenda would have happened anyway – but several would have been part of the town’s budget.
“We are all focused on affordability and having the state pay for these projects, as opposed to baking it into our property taxes is a tremendous help,” Slap said.
“The partnership the state delegation has with Mayor Cantor and Gov. Lamont is also critical. We work together to prioritize projects and ensure we get the biggest bang for the buck. It works – and as a result West Hartford residents will benefit next week when the Bond Commission officially approves the funding and months later when the improvements are completed.”
“I am pleased to see bonding dollars on the next meeting agenda to significantly support West Hartford’s future – especially the completion of the Park Road Rehabilitation project and renovations to the Noah Webster House Museum,” state Rep. Kate Farrar (D-West Hartford) who represents the 20th District where some of the projects will have direct impact. “Park Road is a vibrant West Hartford business and residential neighborhood, and this project will help make the area more walkable, bikeable, and safer for all. The Noah Webster House is one of West Hartford’s historical treasures and this funding will help preserve this landmark and our town’s history,” Farrar said in a statement, also thanking the governor and the State Bond Commission for their investments in West Hartford.
“Whether running, biking, or walking, West Hartford residents enjoy our community’s outdoor spaces,” 18th District state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest (D-West Hartford) said in a statement. “I’m so appreciative to the governor and Bond Commission for supporting these projects and contributing to a healthier and safer community.”
“I want to thank Gov. Lamont and my colleagues in the West Hartford delegation for working collaboratively on these important investments in West Hartford,” added 19th District state Rep. Tammy Exum (D-West Hartford). “From the affordable housing for seniors to the improvements to Park Road, these projects will improve quality of life in our town and strengthen our economy.”
“I am glad that we can partner with West Hartford to advance these projects that will bring a number of improvements to the town,” Lamont, who chairs the State Bond Commission, said in a statement. “Keeping our roads safe for commuters, pedestrians, and bicyclists is a critical component of what makes a community a livable place to do business and raise a family. In addition, these affordable housing investments offer tremendous benefits to the success of our state and our local communities.”
Cantor expressed her sincere appreciation to the governor and the legislative delegation for the support of these projects in town.
“I want to thank Governor Lamont and the West Hartford legislative delegation for working with the town to identify important projects that will make West Hartford an even better place to live, visit, work, play and retire,” Cantor said. “This is a great example of all levels of government working together to support our local residents with projects that improve the quality of life with state funding. Therefore, these meaningful projects will be paid for through state funds and not the town’s property taxes. My sincere appreciation for this assistance.”
In addition to the West Hartford-specific projects, the Children’s Museum – which is currently located in West Hartford but is leaving its current space the fall and plans to eventually move to East Hartford following a temporary relocation at the Emanuel Synagogue property – is expected to receive $10 million as a “grant-in-aid” the Bond Commission agenda states.
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