December 10, 2018
by Mayor Mark D. Boughton
Thank you to Executive Director PJ Prunty and the entire Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce for hosting the annual Leaders Luncheon of 2018. I also wish to once again congratulate this year’s Previdi Award recipient, MaryJean Rebeiro and her company NY-CONN, on her many achievements and dedication to our community.
I delivered my State of the City speech to business leaders and community representatives, but I want to make sure each and every resident has the opportunity to hear about the positive changes and new initiatives coming soon to our community.
On Friday, December 7th, I announced the following plans for our City:
The property, formally known as the Matrix Corporate Center, has been purchased by new developers. The owners plan to utilize the entire property. 600,000 sq ft will serve as office/retail/restaurant space, 400,000 sq ft will be for housing units and 100,000 sq ft will hold a 1000 person conference center. A conference center in this location can grant Danbury the opportunity to hold nation-wide conferences. With our geographical position, we see this conference center as a true potential for a revenue stream in Danbury.
In order to help with any impact on our schools, the City of Danbury has created a plan never done before in the State. We are calling it the “Student Impact Fee” or “SIF.” The new property owners will pay, in addition to their property tax, an annual SIF in order to help ease the cost that a growing number of students has on our school system. The Board of Education will be able to use these funds in the way that most benefits our students and educators. SIF will be considered in the negotiation of every new non-age restricted housing agreement in the City of Danbury.
First Congregational Church
The City of Danbury will be purchasing the First Congregational Church on the corner of Deer Hill Ave and West St for a nominal fee. This historic landmark has the capacity and the acoustic capability to serve as a performing arts center for our community. The current parish will still worship on Sundays, and the community will be able to fully utilize this beautiful structure. The City will renovate the building as it is not currently ADA-wheelchair accessible.
We are focused on the infrastructure, specifically in the Downtown area. We have received a grant of 2 million dollars from the Responsible Growth and Transit-Oriented Development Program to reconstruct downtown sidewalks and streetscape infrastructure. Another aspect is the public art initiative in our own Downtown Danbury Transit-Oriented Development Study, led by Planning Director Sharon Calitro. This year, we covered 9 of our traffic/utility boxes in local artwork and we plan to continue facilitating public art in the urban core and throughout the city.
To maintain the safety of the area, we have worked with CityCenter Danbury on lighting projects and streetscape initiatives. We’ve hired a new code enforcement officer who has been primarily focused on the downtown district. Additionally, Chief Ridenhour has identified a grant that the City is applying for in order to help us grow our downtown walk/bike patrol.
Our goal in the City of Danbury is to make our permit process friendly and simple. In order to ease any wait time you may experience, we are going to install permit kiosks. These kiosks will be multilingual and give residents an opportunity to fill out permits for roofs, siding, and small interior alterations, without waiting for an agent.
New Things to Come
The City has purchased 150 acres of open space for recreational use near Tarrywile Park. We are constructing a gravel parking area so that this land will be easily accessible to all residents. We also plan to connect these new walking trails to the existing Ives Trail. This spaces will benefit residents and your pups!
Work is ongoing at Octagon House as our goal is to preserve the historic building.
We are also going to begin the preservation project at the Tarrywile Castle and complete the Richter House renovation in the coming year.
New things are on their way, but there is a lot we’ve done this past year that I want to share.
We were once again rated a AAA community with great fiscal strategies in place. Our unemployment rate continues to be one of the lowest in the state at 3.1%. We have cut the ribbon on over 900 small and medium-sized businesses just in 2018. 900! This continues to prove that Danbury is one of the best places to start a business in the state and in the region.
We have made and are continuing to make drainage and paving improvements throughout the City. We have worked with the state on the widening of North Street and Newtown Road. There will be more to come as Newtown Road continues to receive widening improvements, and we will continue to work with the State.
Our Freshman Academy is open and in use to 9th graders at Danbury High School. The feedback has been very positive. The project included new state-of-the-art classrooms and a remarkable performing arts theater that can also be used as an auditorium space.
Folks, I want to end on this note. We are proud. Danbury is blessed with tremendous assets, a first-rate hospital, a world-class university, a vibrant arts community, and an economy that is the envy of Connecticut. This is because of the dedicated community members and businesses who give back to our city and help maintain our position as the greatest place to live, work, and be educated.
Thank you for being a part of our community,
Mark D. Boughton