The Town of Suffield could get $500,000 for improving the town center district if residents approve of a technical change to adopt the Town Center District zoning as a Town Center Commercial Plan during a Town Meeting Sept. 27.
If approved, Economic Development Coordinator Patrick McMahon would just beat the deadline of Sept. 28 to apply to the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management for monies to redesign Fflyer Place Drive, the first part of redeveloping the old lumber yard area in the center of town.
“Now’s the time to strike and let’s see where it takes us,” said First Selectman Ed McAnany during a board meeting last week.
The partially private road was built 30 years ago and needs repaving, redesign and with the monies could be turned into a nicely landscaped and lighted street that would attract business to develop the area.
“We would make it pedestrian friendly,” said McMahon. “Put together with Mountain Road we could really create a gathering place for the community.”
“This is an opportunity to get it done using state grant programs,” he added.
The road would extend south to the lumber and bus-yard for retail and commercial components, with the ability to extend further with development of residential use.
As with Marketing Drive near the airport, roads and infrastructure are the first steps to generating private sector interest, McMahon explained.
Already there is some speculation of possibilities ahead for the partially vacant buildings in the area, including talk of a pharmacy building and other improvements.
Recently passed legislation created the Main Street Investment Fund Program providing grants of up to $500,000 to eligible municipalities that have approved plans to develop or improve their town’s commercial centers. The Main Street Investment Fund Program is administered by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) through an application process.
PA 11-1, An Act Promoting Economic Growth and Job Creation, Sections 78 and 79, provides grants to municipalities with populations of not more than 30,000 or municipalities eligible for the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP). The grant can be used for improvements to property owned by the municipality. A portion of the proceeds of the grant may be used to provide a one-time reimbursement to owners of commercial private property for eligible expenditures that directly support and enhance an eligible project.
The designation change would be on the Town Meeting Agenda, along with a town vote on selling the old Bridge Street School property to Lexington Partners LLC, to build apartments.