Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has finished his holiday rounds of announcing $20 million in local aid to 20 communities through the Small Town Economic Assistance Program.

In a press release from the Democratic governor, there were plenty of laudatory comments from local legislators of both parties about the state’s largesse:

Ashford was awarded $196,000 in STEAP funding to reconstruct part of Hnath Road. The reconstruction will help homeowners whose properties are negatively affected by poor drainage, and will also provide safer conditions for drivers.

“This grant will pay dividends for years to come by helping to repair and upgrade a critical transportation artery in our town. I thank Governor Malloy for his commitment to our small towns and in particular for recognizing Ashford as a good long term investment,” said State Representative Bryan Hurlburt.

Bethel was awarded $500,000 to reconstruct and repave major roads impacted by the Stony Hill sewer extension. This award goes toward a larger project that will cost an estimated $1.48 million to complete.

“I am pleased Bethel has received this state grant approval for $500,000 for the Stony Hill Road resurfacing project. I have worked with town officials for several months to get state assistance for the project. The town put in sewer lines to benefit some property owners and a road resurfacing is needed to complete the project. This grant benefits all the residents who travel this road in Bethel,” said State Representative David Scribner (R-107, Brookfield and Bethel).

Bethlehem received $160,000 in STEAP funds to rehabilitate and improve drainage on Sanford Lane and Sanford Lane Spur roadways. This is a short road and cul-de-sac serving a small number of homes.

Coventry was awarded $400,000 to construct sidewalks that will link schools and the library, and make streetscape improvements in the Village Business District. Upgrades to the business district began with ARRA funding and could have a significant impact on the local economy.

“The completion of the sidewalks linking the schools to the library will allow for safer passage of our children and encourage residents to use the town’s resources,” said State Representative Tim Ackert (R- Coventry). “The improvement of the streetscape in the village district is an important project that may not otherwise be completed without the assistance of the STEAP grant. I believe this project will help improve the quality of life in Coventry in a meaningful way.”

Eastford received $386,680 to rehabilitate Mill Bridge Road #1, a major artery for Eastford Village. These funds will serve as the local match required to obtain federal funds to repair the bridge and preserve its historic appearance.

Ellington received $75,000 for a sewer extension project along Route 30. This will provide sewer service to an area of marginal septic systems, and encourage economic growth in a commercially zoned area which is currently restricted for development due to lack of sewer infrastructure. The area feeds groundwater into the Shenpit Lake reservoir used by the CT Water Company.

”These are necessary infrastructure improvements for business development in both South Windsor and Ellington, and I want to thank Governor Malloy for his continuing emphasis on creating local jobs and enhancing the local tax base in our communities,” said State Senator Gary D. LeBeau (D-East Hartford).

“The extension of the sewer along route 30 will greatly enhance economic development opportunities in the Crystal Lake area,” said State Representative Christopher Davis (R- Ellington). “This grant is a good example of taxpayer dollars coming back into the town for important capital improvements that will make the area more attractive to businesses and increase job opportunities.”

Hebron was awarded $214,000 to install traffic signals in the business district at the intersection of Route 66 and John Horton Boulevard. This will serve existing development on Main Street and enhance traffic and pedestrian safety.  The project will also promote new business development in the business expansion area.

Mansfield received STEAP funds in the amount of $500,000 for infrastructure improvements along Village Street. This project is part of the Storrs Center mixed use retail/residential/commercial development and will include the extension of utilities as well as on-street parking service for the shops, restaurants, and offices that will locate in the next phase.

“Building a strong Storrs Center for the benefit of residents, students and the local economy has been a priority for many years.  This grant will help in continuing to move this project forward,” said Senate President Pro Tem Don Williams.

“Over the next two years a wonderful and carefully planned mix of restaurants, shops, housing and town square will take shape, with the state’s commitment to the Storrs Center project critical to its success. With close access to all the great cultural and athletic events at UConn, Storrs Center will be a very popular gathering place for both local residents and visitors,” said State Representative Gregory Haddad (D-Mansfield, Chaplin).

Marlborough will use $400,000 in STEAP funds for the final phase of streetscape improvements in the Village Center area. This project is estimated to create or retain 18 to 24 construction jobs, and will attract pedestrians to the business district in the community.

“STEAP Grants of this size are a real economic development tool for the small towns like Marlborough. The town will be now able to tackle a project that it would not be able to do on just local dollars. It is a real boost and for a reasonable amount of state dollars,” said State Representative Pam Sawyer.

Ridgefield received two awards.  The first is a $75,000 grant to install a traffic signal at the intersection of Danbury Road and Route 7. This intersection controls traffic for a 322 unit complex including a nursing home, assisted living facility and an age-restricted condo development. The nursing home and assisted living facility average 400 ambulance calls a year and the intersection has become difficult to navigate since the road was widened to 4 lanes.

The second award, $200,000, will improve safety and traffic flow through the Ridgefield Center Business District. The project calls for reconstructing the 233-space municipal parking lot between Bailey Avenue and Prospect Street. The lot serves 112 businesses and the Ridgefield Town Hall and will be upgraded, landscaped, and lit.

“As a ranking member of the state’s transportation committee I know all too well the financial challenges communities have with maintaining safe roads and workable transportation systems.  The STEAP award being provided to Ridgefield will help make the business district more accessible to residents and safer for pedestrians.  There is also a great need for a traffic light at the heavily travelled intersection of Danbury Road and Rte 7.  I am pleased to see that this initiative will be completed with the state’s support.  The commuting public deserves safe and reliable transportation systems and these awards will help smaller communities in a substantial way,” said Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton).

Roxbury was awarded $400,000 to finish repaving a 2.1 mile section of South Street, install new catch basin and improve drainage on this major thoroughfare.  This project will improve snow removal and make the area safer for drivers and pedestrians.

“These improvements in our towns will benefit not just local residents but the business community as well,” State Senator Rob Kane (R- Watertown) said. “In 2012, our focus must be on job creation and retention.  That means we must send a clear message to businesses that are seeking to remain in our region and seeking to add jobs here. These investments will help send that message and make our communities safer while easing the pressure on local budgets. This is good news for local taxpayers.”

“I am very happy to see the town of Roxbury receive this competitive state grant to assist finishing the repaving of South Street. This grant will allow for new catch basins and better road drainage and will benefit the residents of Roxbury immensely,” said State Representative Arthur O’Neill (R-69, Bridgewater, Roxbury, Southbury and Washington).

Sherman was awarded $150,000 to reconstruct two miles of Spring Lake Road.  The project will improve drainage while honoring the provisions of the Scenic Road Ordinance. The road serves 63 properties and many Sherman residents use this road to walk or bike.

“Job creation continues to be our goal, and this is welcome news for taxpayers in Bethel, Sherman and throughout greater Danbury,” State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-Danbury) said.  “State upgrades to our region’s roadways will not only make our region safer, but they will also help those who work and do business in our towns.  We want to do all we can to make western Connecticut a more appealing place to grow jobs, and these are smart investments.  We thank the administration for its attention to western Connecticut.”

“The transportation grid, and roads in particular, is the backbone of our state,” said State Representative Richard Smith, who represents the 108th General Assembly District. “Maintaining and improving roads and our infrastructure is a fundamental responsibility of government, but it is one that can be costly-particularly for small communities with tight budgets. This grant is welcome news for Sherman.”

Simsbury was awarded $350,000 for improvements to the Simsbury Center area.  The project includes adjusting drainage and surface elevations and making boat ramp parking improvements on Riverside Rd; restoring the bridge deck on Drake Hill Rd; and a sidewalk/crosswalk bump-out on Hopmeadow.  These streets serve businesses, government services, and residents in the center area.

South Windsor received $500,000 for infrastructure improvements associated with the development of the Connecticut Studios. State and local officials, working in conjunction with a development team, will construct a state-of-the-art movie studio production facility in South Windsor.  Connecticut Studios will includes 6 to 8 sound stages, a mill building for set manufacturing, as well as executive and production offices. Ancillary development will include a 150 room hotel, retail, and several restaurants. Upon completion, the studio is estimated to create 1,500 film production jobs. During the development phase, over 500 union construction jobs will be created. “Ongoing operations” jobs will total close to 5,000. (All job estimates taken from CERC study on this project).

“This funding is not only important to our town, but also to the entire region as it will help ensure surrounding infrastructure properly supports the exciting Connecticut Studio project. I thank Governor Malloy for recognizing the economic benefits of this important project and his commitment to helping it become a success,” said State Representative Tim Larson.

“Economic development is among the most discussed topics in communities throughout the state and that’s the case here in South Windsor, where the I-291 gateway has been identified as an area where companies could thrive and create jobs,” said State Representative Bill Aman, who represents the 14th General Assembly District. “This grant from the state represents a continuing investment in that effort, and it certainly signals that this community is motivated, organized and ready to work with companies looking for fertile ground.”

Sprague was awarded $500,000 for upgrades to the Hanover wastewater pump station. The pump station supports the residential and commercial community of the Village of Hanover and has been operating on original equipment and structures from the 1970’s.

Suffield was awarded $250,000 to construct roadway improvements on Harvey Lane which serves the Town’s industrial area. Harvey Lane is a critical industrial roadway and two of Suffield’s largest taxpayers and major employers are located here.

“Upgrades to Harvey Lane will make the town a friendlier place to do business,” State Senator John A. Kissel said. “Our focus in Suffield and throughout north-central Connecticut must be jobs, jobs, jobs. These roadway improvements take Suffield in the right direction, and they are much appreciated, especially during these difficult financial times.”

“This STEAP grant of $250,000 provides critical funding for Suffield and will help pay for improving roads in two areas that are significant economic drivers for the town, Harvey Lane, which is an industrial area and Canal Road which houses two elder care facilities along with Canal State park,” Rep. Elaine O’Brien (D-Suffield/East Granby/Windsor) said. “I want to thank Governor Malloy for understanding how important STEAP grants are for our small towns which have limited resources to deal with infrastructure costs and other costs.”

Thomaston was awarded $100,000 to purchase and install a generator for an emergency shelter at Thomaston High School. With emergency power generation capacity, the high school can provide the food service, shower facilities, and other functions necessary to accommodate the town’s emergency shelter needs.

“I am very pleased Thomaston received this state Small Town Assistance Grant for the purchase and installation of a generator in Thomaston High School. The generator is needed when the high school is mobilized into the town’s emergency shelter. Thomaston desperately needs this generator for its overall emergency management plan,” said State Representative John Piscopo (R-76, Thomaston, Burlington, Harwinton and Litchfield).

Union received $202,350 for the reclamation and reconstruction Old Brown Road. The road provides access for 10 homes and several farms and is used for commercial delivery to businesses located in this section of town.

Wethersfield was awarded $500,000 for improvements to the 111 acre Mill Woods Park. Improvements are part of the 2002 Master Plan for Mill Woods Park and include a new parking area for the little league field, park road reconstruction, and beach drainage improvements.

“Mill Woods Park is the crown jewel of our town parks,” State Representative Russ Morin said. “It is a recreation destination in town and this grant will help ensure it shines for years to come.”

“Wild weather has wreaked havoc on Mill Woods over the past few years,” State Representative Tony Guerrera said. “I am happy the state could pitch in to make sure the park’s infrastructure gets some much needed TLC.”

Windsor Locks was awarded $280,000 to construct sidewalks along Main Street and Elm Street to increase pedestrian safety in a high-traffic area. This would complete a 10-year renovation effort of the downtown housing/business district.

“By making Windsor Locks a more walkable and bikable town, we improve the local quality of life and make the town more appealing for area residents and businesses alike,” State Senator John A. Kissel said. “We want to be proud of our downtowns, so when Windsor Locks receives an injection of funding like this, we are absolutely thrilled. This is a wise investment which will pay dividends for many years to come, and we thank the administration.”

Woodbury was awarded $148,012 for roadway improvements on Peter Road. These upgrades will improve motorist safety and correct environmental concerns including runoff, erosion, and siltation. Peter Road provides alternate options for drivers and access to western Woodbury during frequent flooding.

Woodstock received $250,000 to upgrade the Hopkins Road Bridge.  This project will prevent road closure and improve safety and road conditions by replacing the narrow, decaying bridge.

“This funding for road improvements will allow the important enhancements of safety on Peter Road in Woodstock,” said State Representative Mike Alberts (R-55).  “I would like to thank the Governor for making this project and Woodstock a priority.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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