As local officials and volunteers are about to begin a “memorial sidewalk” project that will eventually link Sandy Hook School to Main Street at the flagpole, Newtown’s planning agency announced it will be receiving an unanticipated grant that will underwrite additional sidewalks between Glover Avenue and Mile Hill South.
Director of Planning George Benson told the Board of Selectmen August 18 that a $380,000 grant slated to go to Bridgewater through the regional council of governments has been declined, so it will now go to Newtown, the second ranked community on a priority list for a Connecticut State Transportation Enhancement allocation.
Mr Benson said that when discussing the grant opportunity with the state, he learned that Newtown could possibly qualify for up to $500,000 under the program — and if that increase comes to fruition, it could help extend sidewalks even further, from the corner of Mile Hill South to Trades Lane near the entrance to Reed Intermediate School.
Deputy Land Use Director Rob Sibley said if the grant is delivered, it will nearly double the amount of public sidewalk installations in Newtown made over the past decade.
Mr Sibley said the creation of new sidewalks, and extending or improving existing sidewalks, is “intrinsic in Newtown’s Plan of Conservation and Development.”
On questioning from Selectman James Gaston, Sr, Mr Benson confirmed that any sidewalks developed under the grant would conform to state installation guidelines, and would be designed using concrete, not asphalt.
On July 16 the Legislative Council authorized transferring $193,005 from the Sandy Hook Special Revenue Fund and designated donations made through the Parks and Recreation Department for the purpose of engineering and completing a short but logistically complex sidewalk link between the flagpole and an existing walkway several hundred feet below the intersection with Main Street.
First Selectman Pat Llodra previously told The Bee that shortly after 12/14, resident Dr Thomas Draper, who is also Newtown’s medical advisor and associate director of health, approached her with a vision to connect Sandy Hook School to the flagpole.
“He described it in that first meeting as a way to show that the community is connected and we are all one — we are part of Sandy Hook and Sandy Hook is part of the community,” Mrs Llodra said. She added that Dr Draper and his son Joseph are the current major donors.
Newtown-based LRM Landscape Contractors won the bid for the Church Hill-Main Street project, and is expected to begin work this fall. LRM also played a significant role in completing much of the Sandy Hook Streetscape.
A groundbreaking event for that part of the sidewalk project is planned for the coming weeks.