Brookfield set to move ahead with next phase of streetscape project following townwide vote

Photo of Currie Engel
Work continues on the Brookfield Village project and the Four Corners streetscape project is moving into phase 4. Friday, January 29, 2021, in Brookfield, Conn.

Work continues on the Brookfield Village project and the Four Corners streetscape project is moving into phase 4. Friday, January 29, 2021, in Brookfield, Conn.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

BROOKFIELD — Residents voted unanimously in favor of Phase 4 of the town’s Streetscape Project at a special town meeting Tuesday night.

“I think that’s a good signal, a strong signal to the town that we’re on the right track here with our revitalization plan in our Town Center District,” said the town’s economic development manager Greg Dembowski who has been heavily involved in the project.

The meeting, held in the Brookfield High School auditorium so residents could attend and vote while maintaining social distancing mandates, outlined funding and cost estimates, conceptual design, and a timeline for the fourth phase of the project — which is expected to be the longest and most costly phase.

Two of the five phases in the streetscape project have been completed, and the town plans to begin construction on the third and fifth phase this summer.

The fourth phase will include construction of over 1,900 feet of sidewalk connecting the northern end of Phase 1 construction to the Newbury Village condominiums on Federal Road. It would also add a few bus shelters, five retaining walls, and would fill in gulleys. Construction could start in the spring of 2023 in the best case scenario. But before any of that can happen, town residents needed to vote and approve the project.

The vote was previously scheduled earlier in January but was pushed due to inclement weather conditions.

“I’m very heartened that the town residents are continuing to support the development of our town center,” First Selectman Steve Dunn said of the vote. “I think they recognize that we really want to have a vibrant town center where our residents can go.”

During the meeting, Dembowski presented construction details and walked the 30 or so attendees through the state grant that will pay for 87 percent of the cost, or $3.1 million of the total $3.6 million. Notably, the town pivoted from supplementing the cost with federal funds to state funds in part because of a time lag from the federal government and because the state grant covered more of the cost without as many inspection requirements. The cost to the town, with state aid, came out to around $450,000.

Work continues on the Brookfield Village project and the Four Corners streetscape project is moving into phase 4. Friday, January 29, 2021, in Brookfield, Conn.

Work continues on the Brookfield Village project and the Four Corners streetscape project is moving into phase 4. Friday, January 29, 2021, in Brookfield, Conn.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

“In the case of the streetscape, the LoTCIP program, it’s a better fit for the town and it provides both cost and schedule incentives,” Dembowski said in reference to the state grant program.

Originally, the town expected the fourth phase to come in around $3 million, but had to increase the budgeted costs because of a need for additional sidewalk in front of a construction project that has since been delayed.

Dunn addressed questions from residents concerned about blighted areas on Federal Road, and said they were in contact with the owner of two of the underdeveloped land parcels.

“We have put that owner on notice. We are starting to fine him. We had a meeting with him last month with the blight panel,” Dunn told attendees.

Dembowski said the discussion about the blighted areas demonstrated how the revitalization project will help to clean up that stretch of land and encourage appropriate development in downtown Brookfield.

According to Dunn, there has been continued interest from developers in properties in the Four Corners area.

“Our plan to attract development is working,” Dunn said.