A local theater helping to re-energize downtown Fairfield and a New London developer and property manager who took it upon himself to improve a neighborhood by offering attractive housing that is also affordable are just two of the initiatives being recognized with a 2016 Award of Excellence from the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC). In total, five recipients have been selected to receive the prestigious awards, including organizations and initiatives from Fairfield, Farmington, Mansfield, New London and Waterbury.
Also being recognized with awards are a public outreach effort in Farmington that resulted in hundreds of residents voicing their opinion on plans for a new gateway into the town; a holiday window display competition that draws shoppers back to downtown Waterbury while garnering extra press and marketing for the businesses; and a new Town Square in Storrs Center, built around the unique needs of the space and the people that use it.
This year's awards will be presented on June 6th at E.O. Smith High School in downtown Storrs. CMSC’s mission is to be the catalyst that ignites Connecticut's Main Streets as the cornerstone of thriving communities. CMSC is dedicated to community and economic development within the context of historic preservation, and is committed to bringing Connecticut's commercial districts back to life socially and economically.
In addition to the competitive Awards of Excellence, where CMSC members submit applications that are reviewed by a jury of industry-related professionals and CMSC staff, CMSC also named Upper Albany Main Street (a CMSC member community) and the University of Hartford to receive the Founder's Award for their long and fruitful partnership - a relationship that has not only helped improve the appearance of the Avenue, but empowered many of the small business merchants in the neighborhood as well.
In addition, the Jack Shannahan Prize for Public Service was awarded to the Legislative Commission on Aging in recognition of their Livable Communities initiative. This initiative aims to create thriving places for residents to grow up and grow older, notably by helping prepare Connecticut for the challenges presented by a rapidly increasing aging demographic through education, awareness and advocacy.
"This year's crop of winners is really special, because they demonstrate how important incorporating the voice of the people is in the final success of a project," said CMSC President & CEO John Simone. "In Farmington, Fairfield and Mansfield especially, each one either specifically asked - or was smart enough to observe - what people wanted in the space, and made changes accordingly. As a result, there is greater support and usage of their public spaces and private businesses, meaning more people on Main Street and more money for the town coffers."
The June 6 awards ceremony will be followed by interactive experiences in the new Storrs Center. Activities will include guided tours of the downtown development, a collaboration with the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, time for dinner and exploration among the Center's many shops and restaurants, and a closing concert featuring the Funky Dawgz Brass Band.
Created in 2003 to recognize outstanding projects, individuals and partnerships in community efforts to bring traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts back to life, socially and economically, the Awards of Excellence are presented annually at CMSC's Awards Gala. The evening’s welcome Reception Sponsor is United Illuminating and awards are presented with support from Webster Bank and Eversource Energy.