Jack Shannahan Prize awarded for first time in seven years

Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) is pleased to announce the winners of its Jack Shannahan Prize for Public Service and Founder’s Award:

  • Connecticut Housing Finance Authority – Jack Shannahan Prize for Public Service
  • Hiram Peck, AICP, Town of Simsbury – Co-winner, Founder’s Award, presented by Eversource
  • Delpha M. Very, Town of Putnam – Co-winner, Founder’s Award, presented by Eversource

Jack Shannahan Prize for Public Service

CMSC presents this award to public servants in recognition of extraordinary efforts to preserve our historic town centers. Not given on an annual or competitive basis, CMSC has not bestowed this award since 2008, when it was presented to Senators Donald Williams and Andrew Roraback for creation of the Community Investment Act. CMSC is proud to present the award this year to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) in recognition of their exceptional efforts to revitalize our downtowns with housing and economic activity through mixed-use development.

Unique in their design and approach to reaching an underserved population of small downtown properties, CHFA contracted CMSC in 2012 to create the Come Home to Downtown program. CHFA demonstrated a long-term commitment to this program by securing multi-year funding and creating a loan fund to help building owners re-awaken their underutilized buildings. They are helping educate people about possible solutions, both directly through presenting at conferences and workshops and indirectly by enabling CMSC to provide municipal leaders with guidance and assistance through the program.

The positive impact of Come Home to Downtown is beginning to take root. Since 2013, six communities and seven property owners have participated in the award-winning program. It is expected that the first loan from the program fund will be approved later this year, resulting in sixteen new apartments in downtown New Britain. And a Waterbury property owner was recently approved for Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, CHFA Tax Exempt Bond funds, and CHAMP financing from the Connecticut Department of Housing as a result of participating in the program and the technical assistance he received. These funds will allow him to renovate the upper floors of his building into 38 new apartments.

Because of CHFA’s innovative approach to downtown housing, this program is bringing residents and vitality that extends beyond the workday back to our city and town centers. The lessons learned from Come Home to Downtown are also offering insight into how the state and municipalities can create more of this vital, yet complex development, and has resulted in a coalition being formed to propose TIF district legislation that would enable the creation of financing mechanisms to support mixed-use development and housing in our downtowns.

Founder’s Award – presented by Eversource

CMSC presents this award (formerly the Connecticut Light & Power Award) in recognition of individuals and organizations who dedicate themselves to promoting a comprehensive management approach to the revitalization of Connecticut’s historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

This year, CMSC selected two winners to receive this award:

  • Hiram Peck, AICP, Director of Community Planning & Development, Town of Simsbury
  • Delpha M. Very, Economic & Community Development Director, Town of Putnam

Hiram Peck, AICP
Director of Community Planning & Development, Town of Simsbury

Simsbury boasts a rich cultural history, and has sought to carefully integrate its natural and historic assets into its development. At the forefront of this endeavor is Hiram Peck, a professional planner for over 25 years. Hiram has worked with municipalities, the federal government/USDA, regional planning agencies, and private clients. As Simsbury’s Director of Planning, Hiram remains ever focused on the land and man’s optimal relation to it. Working with Simsbury Main Street Partnership, he coordinated an extensive consensus building process involving a community design charrette and adoption of a Form Based Coding  effort for Simsbury Town Center. This is an issue he is passionate about, and has been working with several firms and groups in many states on Form Based Codes for several years. In addition, a Planned Area Development regulation was recently adopted, allowing the town to carefully craft future development so it fits with their historic charm. Work on Low Impact Development (LID) storm water regulation and Incentive Housing Development Zones are also well underway, serving the community’s environmental goals and desire to attract new residents. Other progressive endeavors currently under Hiram’s guidance include significant mixed-use development and transit related projects.

Hiram’s dedication to comprehensive management planning has benefitted many over the years. Before coming to Simsbury in 2007, Hiram was the Town Planner in New Canaan, CT for seven years. During this time, the POCD and Zoning Regulations were completely revised and many major projects including construction of a teen center and the preservation of an important downtown theater and town owned historic building were accomplished. Before his service as a U.S. Army Officer, Hiram attended Cornell University and the University of Connecticut. He has taught science the secondary level and geology at the college level. An AICP certified planner for over 25 years, he is also a consulting planner and a CT licensed arborist in his spare time. He has served on the Board of Selectmen and Board of Tax Review in his hometown.

Delpha M. Very
Economic and Community Development Director, Town of Putnam

An infectious enthusiasm, love of community, an ability to build consensus and tireless dedication are just a few of the many qualities that make Delpha M. Very a tremendous asset to the Town of Putnam. As the town’s Economic and Community Development Director, Delpha’s efforts have led to the creation of Riverview Marketplace, the Putnam façade program, historic mill redevelopment and the establishment of the Putnam Arts Council.

Delpha is a visionary who has facilitated incremental progress in bringing Downtown Putnam back to life. Thanks to her efforts, Putnam has received five Preservation of Place Grants, garnering funding for new initiatives that can be integrated into, and leverage, comprehensive Main Street preservation and revitalization programs. Putnam’s Main Street has been transformed in recent years as a dining and entertainment destination for the region, due in large part to incremental and deliberate placemaking and planning. Delpha is committed to enabling Downtown Putnam to achieve its potential by rediscovering and accomplishing its goals as a mixed-use and walkable town center where people come to live, work, play and learn. It’s perhaps then not surprising that Putnam was named by Boston Magazine in 2012 as  One of the Best 15 Small Towns to Visit in New England.

As a former First Selectman in Woodstock and a successful business owner, Delpha gained a unique perspective into the practical aspect of business operations and the policies that can support or prohibit successful development. She is a champion of regional Responsible Growth initiatives, including open space and farmland preservation and historic mill preservation, and community development that supports healthy living and active lifestyles. Her motivation for developing vibrant, healthy, thriving communities is deeply rooted in her family – specifically her grandchildren – and others of their generation who will reap the benefits of Putnam’s shared vision.

Presentation of the Awards

CMSC will present these awards along with the Awards of Excellence at the 2015 Connecticut Main Street Awards Gala on June 8th at Trinity-on-Main in downtown New Britain. This year’s event will feature guided tours of downtown New Britain, including a Downtown Arts, Heritage & Culture tour, a tour of Walnut Hill Rose Garden & New Britain Museum of American Art, and a tour of CTfastrak in New Britain: Transportation, Housing & Main Street.

CMSC would also like to thank our generous sponsors of this event:


Taste of New Britain Reception Sponsor
UIL Holdings

Downtown New Britain Tour Sponsors
Baywater Properties     CWPM     Downes Construction Company
Fuss & O’Neill     McPhee Electric LTD

 Award Sponsors
Webster Bank
Colliers International     Farmington Bank     Liberty Bank     Richter & Cegan

 Main Street Sponsors
CDM Smith     CEDAS     Corporation for Independent Living     Express Strategies
Pirie Associates Architects, LLC     STV Incorporated     Svigals + Partners