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Essex has been awarded a $145,200 Connecticut Community Connectivity Grant to upgrade sections of sidewalk in Essex and Ivoryton villages, which are currently in less than ideal condition. The grant, awarded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT), is intended to assist Connecticut’s communities in improving their complete transportation systems, from motor vehicles to transit, to bicycles and pedestrian networks.
“Fixing the sidewalks throughout town and making them all walkable and usable has been a mission of mine as well as [former first selectman] Phil [Miller]. The town is very excited that we have been awarded this grant,” said First Selectman Norm Needleman. “I have really taken this to heart and made use of all the grant money we have received, as well as some town money, to make several sidewalk improvements throughout town, in the recent years, including sidewalk work, which was recently completed at the foot of Main Street by the marina.
“These recent improvement have made that area more accessible and usable for residents and visitors alike,” Needleman said.
This Connectivity Grant will be used to repair a portion of sidewalk in Ivoryton near the old piano factory. Currently the old asphalt sidewalk is narrow, very bumpy and “not safe,” according to Needleman. The money will also be used for a portion of sidewalk currently in poor condition that leads from Town Hall to Champlin Square. Plans are to begin the work on these two sidewalks this fall.
Additionally, a portion of the Connectivity Grant monies may be used in conjunction with the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant awarded to the town to be used for streetscape work in Centerbrook, starting at the new Cumberland Farms and stretching to the Essex Steam Train. This project will include new street lights, new crosswalks, and improved crosswalks. If there are enough funds, the project may extend to include work under the Route 9 underpass.
Essex’s Town-Wide Transportation Study done in 2011 and its Plan of Conservation & Development completed in 2015 both identified an objective to put in place a complete pedestrian network of sidewalks throughout town, connecting the villages of Ivoryton, Centerbrook, and Essex, as well as the commercial hubs of Bokum Corner and the Route 9 Gateway. The Main Street Investment Fund project in Ivoryton Center and the Safe Routes to School sidewalk upgrades in Centerbrook have helped give this goal forward motion and the town is eager to keep that momentum moving in a positive direction with the additional funds from this Community Connectivity Grant.
“This grant money will help us to complete the missing link, allowing us to create a continuous pedestrian corridor from the Connecticut River all the way to Ivoryton Center,” said Needleman.
He added, “Having a completed, improved, suitable, safe pedestrian sidewalk network in town has been a goal of mine and we are on our way to making that happen. New, improved, and usable sidewalks will promote the exploration of our historic villages and bring them together to enhance the sense of community. The town is grateful to the State of Connecticut for continuing to support our vision with this project and for granting us this much-needed Connectivity Grant.”
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