Fairfield residents revitalizing Stratfield area into 'more of a gathering spot'

FAIRFIELD — A group of Stratfield residents are looking to revitalize the heart of their neighborhood with a project expected to cost about $1 million.

Work on the Four Corners project, which is essentially the intersection of Fairfield Woods and Stratfield roads, began a few years ago but is finally expected to break ground this summer or fall.

Not only would it beautify the area, but also strive to make it safer, residents said.

“It’s a beautification and a revitalization of the Four Corners, and it addresses pedestrian and bike safety to make it more of a gathering spot than an intersection,” said Jamie McCusker, co-president of the Stratfield Village Association, which is leading the effort.

The project includes larger brick sidewalks which will also increase outdoor eating space for the restaurants already there. It would add gas lamps similar to those on Post Road, and plant trees that would ideally bloom in the spring and could be decorated with lights around the holidays.

Plans also call for adding sidewalks in the parking lot and better mark bike paths.

“It’s very hazardous,” McCusker said of the current situation.

BL Companies was hired by the town to design the project. Once the design is complete, it will be bid for construction.

McCusker said because Stratfield Road is a state road, renovation is reliant on state vendors and the state Department of Transportation must sign off on everything.

While the town is coordinating the project, the association is acting as the fundraising arm. About $900,000 has already been raised, largely because of a $650,000 state grant secured by the town’s state delegation. The town itself has also contributed $100,000 toward the project, as has Sacred Heart University.

The rest has been collected through community events and fundraisers. The latest fundraiser encourages residents, businesses and organizations to buy an engraved brick that will be incorporated into the Four Corners design. Bricks range from $100 to $500 each, depending on the size and amount of text, and can be purchased online through the association’s donor page on the Bricks R Us website.

“We’re in the homestretch and so we’ve launched this brick campaign as kind of our last push to raise as much money as we can, so hopefully the project can fulfill the vision we have,” McCusker said. “I’d hate for this to fall short because we didn’t raise enough money.”

Erin Lopez, who also sits on the association’s board, said the brick campaign not only fills in the fundraising gaps but also helps give the neighborhood a sense of ownership for the spot.

“We thought it would be a great way to bring the community together,” she said.

The goal is to sell 1,000 bricks.

“It’s been well received and people have really taken it and run with it,” Lopez said.

The Stratfield Village Association was formed around 2006 to fight a Walgreens from replacing the Stratfield Market, in an effort to preserve the small community feel.

The group successfully prevented Walgreens from moving into the building, but the market ultimately left and nothing replaced it until it was purchased by the Goddard School in 2019.

The association fell by the wayside several years later, but McCusker and neighbor Dylan O’Connor relaunched it in 2016, turning it into an official nonprofit organization. The pair surveyed the neighborhood on what residents would like to see and, while a market was the top response, there was a large interest in making the area safer.

“It just so happened that when we launched it, a lot of confluence of events happened in the neighborhood at that point,” McCusker said.

In addition to the market site, the GE campus in the area was sold to to Sacred Heart University, and the synagogue on Stratfield Road was bought and turned into Sunrise Assisted Living.

“It really made the timing of launching the SVA even more important,” McCusker said, adding the group advocates for the neighbors and offers input during the design phases of projects by working with the companies, town, university and state officials.

It has taken the same approach to the Four Corners project.

“It’s been really collaborative,” said O’Connor, the association’s co-president.

Residents presented their ideas to town and state officials who have supported the project. They have also had input on the designs as the project progressed, most recently at a virtual town hall in June.

“We really want to make sure that the ultimate design in the Four Corners is in line with what everybody wants because the importance of community is strong in this neighborhood,” O’Connor said.