It wasn't quite a walk down easy street, but town Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart came away from Monday's Representative Town Meeting with approval to seek a $500,000 state grant to make streetscape improvements to part of the Post Road west of downtown.
Barnhart said if the grant application is approved, the funds would be used to build new curbing and sidewalks and to install decorative streetlights from Thorpe Street west to South Pine Creek, continuing work begun in the late 1980s during the administration of then-First Selectman Jacquelyn Durrell.
"In my judgment, by approving this grant we are also assuming acceptance of all the budgetary planning," Pontrelli said. She said the documentation received by the RTM was "just slightly better than vague."
Barnhart said if the funding is approved, a more specific plan and design would be created and the project would go out to bid. "If we get less than the $500,000 we would have to scale back the project," he said.
Kathryn Braun, R-8, who has a law office on Lantern Hill, a site east of the target area, said no one reached out to her regarding the plans. Barnhart said getting input from Post Road business owners would be a "subsequent phase as we develop more concrete plans."
Barnhart said the town's application had to be filed with the state by Friday. "We just have a limited period of time to apply," he said, adding the town was notified over the summer about the grant opportunity.
"No one wants to turn down free money," Braun said, but added, "I think more research should have been done."
Braun and Jacob both expressed concern that a proposed high-density condominium project at the dead end of Thorpe Street could be helped by the streetscape improvements, although Barnhart explained the project is basically new sidewalks and street lights. There are already sidewalks in place along the Post Road by Thorpe Street.
"Obviously, we think we have a shot," at getting the grant, Barnhart said, "but it is a competitive process."
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