Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Main Street Update

We have great progress on many fronts in the enhancement of Windsor Locks Main Street. Last week the Town received the commitment of the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, James Redeker, to invest departmental resources on furthering plans for the relocation of the train platform back to the downtown area. First Selectman Steve Wawruck along with Chris Ferrero of Fuss & O'Neill and Patrick McMahon, Economic Development Consultant, met with Governor Dannel Malloy's Chief of Staff, Mark Ojakian, and Commissioner Redeker at the State Capitol. At issue was the timing of the relocation. Service on he New Haven, Hartford, Springfield Commuter Rail Line is slated to begin in 2016. However, the State only has funds to double track south of Hartford. State and federal funds have not been identified to complete the double tracking north of Hartford to the state line. It may be several years beyond the 2016 service start date before that stretch of the line is double tracked. The Town does not want to have to wait until the double tracking for a decision on relocating the train platform The goal of the meeting was to get a commitment to have the platform moved for the 2016 start date. Commissioner Redeker stated that his department would continue to develop plans for the new platform site, a planned rotary on the East Windsor side of the Route 140 bridge, and complete environmental reviews that would be required for approval by the Federal Rail Administration. This marks a watershed moment for the community.

The First Selectman is participating in a Cooridor Advisory Committee made up of elected and appointed officials from the various communities along the New Haven, Hartford, Springfield Commuter Rail line and the CT Fastrak bus line from Hartford to New Britain. This is an opportunity for local officials to learn about efforts underway in other communities and share information.

The President of Amtrak has signed off on internal reviews by his staff paving the way for the sale of the historic train station to the Town for $1. The project has now been refered to Amtrak's real estate division for the preparation of a sales agreement. Amtrak indicted that the Town should have the draft next week. The arrchitectural firm hired to design the restoration, Crosskey Architects, received the temporary permit to enter the building to evaluate its condition and begin the design work. Residents are welcome to get involved in the fundraising efforts for the restoration. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Two grant applications are still pending. One application was to the Enviornmental Protection Agency for $400,000 for brownfield assessment funds. Another application for funds for the Church Street intersection is still pending with the Office of Policy and Management.

A meeting was held this week with the only bidder on the Montgomery complex to discuss how the Town and developer could work together to improve this important property for the community. It is hoped that control of the property will transfer in the next 30 to 60 days. Once the property transfers then the new owner will do a full blown assessment of the condition of the building and property and determine potential uses. The Town is eager to see this property returned to productve use.

The Transit Oriented Development Planning Study is moving along well. There are exciting plans regarding roadway circulation in the downtown area. Fuss & O'Neill is also developing a form-based code for zoning purposes that will pave the way for well-designed mixed-use development. A public forum will be scheduled for June to present the latest plans and findings to residents.