2018 Physical Planning Award
Town of Manchester Center Springs Park Master Plan
Center Springs Park is a critical node and an important element of revitalization efforts for central Manchester. However, lack of visibility, poor physical connectivity to adjacent districts, and limited internal park amenities and programming hinder the park’s use. The Master Plan for Center Springs Park was a physical planning project that addressed challenges and identified physical enhancements to improve park connectivity, visibility, amenities, and core programming to attract users to the Park. In addition, the Plan provided Town policy makers and staff with a blueprint for implementing various enhancements in an efficient, equitable and cost-effective manner so that the Park may continue its legacy as an important Town asset and destination.
2018 Media Award
Catherine Hewitt, Westerly Sun
Over the past two years, Catherine Hewitt of the Westerly Sun has done an amazing job of covering implementation actions within the POCD and planning-related issues primarily in Pawcatuck, one of Stonington’s villages. Through the Sun’s thorough coverage and focused editorials, the community was informed and engaged to influence community leaders in making public policy decisions. Her ability to present complex zoning topics in simple terms is unquestionably an incredible asset to the community. In addition, her skills in telling the story within the appropriate context and from the perspective of her readership devoid of sensationalism, drama or bias demonstrate the depth of her commitment to journalism and the media.
2018 Planning Award
Town of Haddam POCD Planning Committee
The Town of Haddam POCD Planning Committee aimed to create a Plan that the community would identify with on many levels by being easy to read and navigate, meaningful and useful to Haddam’s residents, and straight forward to implement. To accomplish this, the Committee created a plan structured around the “places of Haddam” focusing on the village centers and surrounding rural areas and the role these areas would play in the future development of the Town. In addition to an implementation plan calling out specific action items, the POCD included a framework for governance and implementation by establishing a specific process for annual reviews and public reporting on progress made toward implementation. Furthermore, the layout, graphics and presentation of the POCD were distinctive and intuitively easy to follow.
2018 Revitalization Planning Award
City of Meriden for the Meriden Downtown
Through persistence and a commitment by its leaders and the community over many decades, Meriden is finally experiencing reinvestment in its downtown. As a former manufacturing hub, Meriden struggled to preserve its downtown core when industry moved elsewhere. Planning over many decades, including the “Meriden 2020” initiative has resulted in recent success. The Meriden Green, completed in 2016, transformed this former brownfield site into a 14-acre park and flood detention basin located in the heart of downtown. One of the primary reasons for the success of this $14 million project was the public engagement in plans for the site, which now serves to provide flood storage and green space downtown, while freeing up new land for mixed-use economic development. In addition, the City successfully collaborated with local, state and federal investors to develop a new multi-modal transit center and key stop along the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail corridor. As commuter rail service expanded, three downtown mixed-use development projects were under construction or completed in 2018, with over 230 mixed-income housing units and 8,000 square feet of commercial space.
2018 Regional Planning Award
Northwest Hills Council of Governments
For their innovative and interactive Regional Trail Map. The Regional Trail Map is an excellent example of a successful planning process. Using CT DOT funds and collaborating with numerous partners through a broad-based Regional Trail Committee, the project resulted in an innovative and useful on-line Regional Trail Map and related planning resources to promote regional economic development, good health, and a vision for expanding the project into a statewide Trailfinder website. In addition to the map of 540 miles of public walking trails in the 21-town region, a trail connectivity assessment was performed and future trail network priorities were developed. As noted in the NWHCOG Regional Transportation Plan, it is in the collective best interest of the Region to enhance the awareness of the outdoor recreation opportunities in the area for residents, businesses, and visitors. A number of recent studies have shown that the development of public access trails is a good investment, offering direct economic benefits as well as health and quality of life benefits.
2018 Historic Preservation Award
City of Norwich and Uncas Leap Steering Committee
Legend has it that the Mohegan Sachem Uncas successfully leapt across the rocky gorge over the Yantic River in Downtown Norwich, while pursuing Narragansett warriors fell to their deaths on the jagged rocks below. The Mohegan Tribal Historian believes that this battle might have been the last one to be fought in the region without firearms. The effort to preserve the Uncas Leap battle site began ten years ago, when a local real estate agent and former state representative recognized the values of what was then a blighted property for its Native American heritage, and aesthetic and historical significance. They formed the Uncas Leap Steering Committee with collaboration from the Mohegan Tribe, City representatives, neighbors, and the Norwich Historical society. With assistance from a series of grants, the Committee studied the property, conducted a very successful charrette, and won the commitment of additional partners. After the City purchased the property for back taxes in 2010, the Committee continued to conduct planning and environmental assessments and gather public input on the types of amenities appropriate for this heritage site. All of this work culminated in the Uncas Leap Heritage Park Master Plan, which secured state bond funding for implementation. With its observation decks, kayak dock, trails, story-telling amphitheater, mill ruins and other features, the Steering Committee is confident that Uncas Leap Heritage Park will someday become one of the most significant heritage tourism destinations in the State of Connecticut.