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Tag: Connectivity

CMSC Webinar – Parking Requirements: A Roundtable Discussion

Parking, always a hot downtown topic gets even hotter with the parking requirements debate.

Quickly you find that the debate is connected to housing, density, infrastructure, demographics, market position, and so much more.

Join us in this dynamic roundtable discussion on parking requirements from three different perspectives: development, commercial retail, and municipal economic development.

This event is approved for 1 credit for certified planners with thanks to our AICP Certification Maintenance Provider FHI Studio.

This event is eligible for Certified Connecticut Municipal Official (CCMO) credit with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM).

Meet our panel:

  • Alyssa Kent, Senior Development Manager and Design Director, Spinnaker Real Estate Partners
  • Michael Berne, Principal, MJB Consulting
  • Mark Barnhart, Director of Community and Economic Development, Town of Fairfield
About the Presenters:

Mark Barnhart, Director of Community and Economic Development, Town of Fairfield

Mark S. Barnhart is presently the Director of Community & Economic Development for the Town of Fairfield, having been appointed to the post in September 2002. Previously, Mr. Barnhart had served as the Town Manager and Chief Executive Officer for the Town of Stratford from 1992 to 2002. In his capacity as Town Manager, Mr. Barnhart was instrumental in efforts to successfully remediate and redevelop the former Raymark site as well as the Stratford Army Engine Plant (SAEP). Mr. Barnhart began his professional career with the City of Camden, NJ, where he served as the Assistant to the Director of Public Utilities. In 1989, Mr. Barnhart was appointed Assistant/Town Manager of Stratford, Connecticut, a position he held until his promotion to Acting Town Manager in October 1991.

Mr. Barnhart holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his undergraduate studies at Albright College, in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Michael Berne, Principal, MJB Consulting

Michael Berne is the President of MJB Consulting, a New York City and San Francisco Bay Area-based national retail planning and real estate consultancy.  One of the nation’s leading authorities on Downtown and Main Street business districts, Michael speaks and writes widely on the subject.  He regularly presents at the conferences of the International Downtown Association (IDA) and has served on its Board and Executive Committee (as Vice Chair).  He has taught classes at Penn, CUNY and Pratt.  In addition to his “Retail Contrarian” blog, he has contributed articles to ULI’s Urban Land, CNU’s Public Square, IEDC’s Economic Development Journal and Dow Jones & Co.’s MarketWatch as well as contributed sections to two recent books, Suburban Remix: Crafting the Next Generation of Urban Places (edited by David Dixon and Jason Beske; Island Press, 2018) and Main Street’s Comeback (written by Mary Means; Hammondwood Press, 2020).  He is frequently quoted in high-profile publications such as the Financial Times, the Washington Post, Planning, Governing and Bloomberg Businessweek.  His firm has long been active across Connecticut, including past engagements in Greenwich, South Norwalk, Bridgeport, New Haven and Mystic, and he delivered a webinar presentation, entitled “The Future of Main Street Retail”, to a Connecticut Main Street Center audience in September 2021.

Alyssa Kent, Senior Development Manager and Design Director, Spinnaker Real Estate Partners

Alyssa Kent is a Senior Development Manager at Spinnaker Real Estate Partners. Prior to that, she worked as an Owner’s Representative at the same company, and the Director of Design at Becker + Becker Associates, an architecture and development firm. Alyssa started their career as an Intern Architect at Louviere, Stratton & Yokel and later became a Teaching Assistant at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Alyssa holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and currently serves on the Connecticut Main Street Center Board of Directors.

 

CMSC Webinar – DOT & Downtown: An Update On CT’s Complete Streets & Other Programs

Join us for our April webinar with Connecticut’s Department of Transportation.

In this webinar, presenter Kim Lesay will share updates on programs that can benefit your downtown’s experience, as well as discussing CT DOT’s new Complete Streets Policy & Directive.

About the Presenter:

Kimberly Lesay, Bureau Chief, Bureau of Policy & Planning, CT DOT

Kimberly began her career in Environmental Planning. With over 28 years in the Transportation industry, much of her career has been dedicated to public sector service.  Kimberly is striving to break down silos and improve processes within the Bureau in their mission to provide for increased safety, sustainability, accessibility and mobility of people, and enhanced modal integration of the transportation system.

D.5.1 Placemaking & Wayfinding Signage

D.5.1 Placemaking & Wayfinding Signage

Action

Improve district and wayfinding signage.

Why

A successful downtown main street layout will include highly visible, easy-to-read, and decorative way-finding signage.  The goal is to have a positive experience for both the pedestrian and motorist who are navigating through the district.

How

There are numerous wayfinding and district signage plans available.  Once signage locations have been determined, it’s important to list all points of interest, municipal service locations, transit options, and other significant destinations.

CMSC Professional Affiliates

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • There is signage throughout the district signifying to visitors that they are in the district.
  • There is wayfinding signage throughout the district that helps visitors navigate their way around.
  • The signage is well maintained, clearly visible, easy to read, ADA compliant, and may change with seasons.
  • Signage creates and reflects a sense of place and community identity.
3
  • There is signage throughout the district signifying visitors are in the district.
  • There is wayfinding signage throughout the district that helps visitors navigate their way around.
  • The signage is in good condition but there are signs of wear and tear.
2
  • There is very minimal wayfinding signage.
  • The signage is inconsistent, bent, worn, and/or badly damaged.
1
  • There is minimal basic signage.

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D.2.4 EV Charging Stations

D.2.4 EV Charging Stations

Action

Install and maintain EV Charging Stations in convenient, accessible locations throughout the downtown.  

Why

Adding EV Charging Stations downtown will provide a safe, convenient asset to attract more residents, shoppers, diners and employees of local businesses.  

How

  • Engage the community and various stakeholders to understand the need and desire for EV charging stations, including possible locations. 
  • Develop a plan for, and fund, installation and maintenance of EV Charging Stations. 
  • Be sure to install directional signage leading users to the stations. 
  • Make EV Charging Station information available online, social media, and advertise with all events.

Search Downtown Resource Library

Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • The district has active electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Clear directional signage is in place.
3
  • The district has plans in place to launch electric vehicle charging stations including clear directional signage.
2
  • The district is considering electric vehicle charging stations.
1
  • The district has no plans for any electric vehicle charging stations.

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D.1.4 Crosswalks

D.1.4 Crosswalks

Action

Provide and maintain quality crosswalks to make the pedestrian experience more welcoming and safe. 

Why

Crosswalks provide safe passage across streets and discourage unsafe crossings. They alert drivers to pedestrians. A well designed, ADA compliant system of crossings increases access to resources, provides a feeling of safety, encourages more foot traffic to support your downtown businesses and increases social opportunity. 

How

  • Conduct a crosswalk audit and hold community outreach events to understand existing conditions downtown. This process can be used to come up with opportunities for improvement. 
  • Plan for, fund, construct and maintain an adequate number of crosswalks that:
    • are clearly visible
    • have proper signalization
    • follow ADA best practices
    • calm traffic and increase safety

Search Downtown Resource Library

Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • Crosswalks are clearly visible
  • Crosswalks adequate signalization and follow ADA best practices
  • There are an adequate number of mid-block crosswalks
  • Crosswalks are constructed with state-of-the-art materials to enhance crosswalk safety
3
  • Crosswalks are clearly visible
  • Crosswalks adequate signalization and follow ADA best practices
  • There are an adequate number of mid-block crosswalks
2
  • Crosswalks are somewhat visible
  • Crosswalks have limited signalization and minimally follow ADA best practices
  • There are an inadequate number of mid-block crosswalks
1
  • Crosswalks are faded and not maintained
  • Crosswalks limited signalization and no further ADA best practices are in place
  • There are an inadequate number of crosswalks

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D.1.3.1 Sidewalk Conditions

D.1.3.1 Sidewalk Conditions

Action

Conduct community outreach. Design and construct sidewalks in the district that provide maximum connectivity and are compliant with accessibility standards. Develop a plan and budget to keep them well-maintained.

Why

Sidewalks connect people to local businesses, jobs, education, places of worship, social events, food resources and more throughout the downtown, and this encourages increased foot traffic and economic development. Utilizing a well-maintained, accessible sidewalk can also be a more healthy, environmentally friendly, affordable, and welcoming way to get where you need to go. 

How

  • Conduct a sidewalk audit and hold community outreach events to understand existing conditions of sidewalks downtown. This can include a wishlist for improvements, amenities and additional sidewalk connections. 
  • Develop, fund and implement a plan to properly maintain sidewalks in the district. 
  • Develop, implement and plan for advertising your sidewalk network. 
  • Be sure local regulations and policies are in place to support installation and maintenance of the downtown sidewalk system.

Search Downtown Resource Library

Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • 80%+ sidewalks are smooth and even, not cracked, heaved, or missing
  • Sidewalks are wide enough to accommodate multiple users
  • Sidewalk ordinances are in place to clearly guide uses and usages that enhance the customer experience
3
  • 50-80% sidewalks are smooth and even, not cracked, heaved, or missing
  • Sidewalks are wide enough to accommodate multiple users
2
  • 40-50% sidewalks are smooth and even, not cracked, heaved, or missing
1
  • Less than 40% sidewalks are smooth and even, not cracked, heaved, or missing

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D.1.2 Public Transit

D.1.2 Public Transit

Action

Conduct community outreach. Research, develop and implement a public transportation plan that includes construction of (and signage for) safe, well-placed transit stops and amenities throughout the downtown. 

Why

Public transportation easily connects people to local businesses, jobs, education, places of worship, social events, food resources and more throughout the downtown, and this encourages economic development. It can also be a more healthy, environmentally friendly, affordable, and fun way to get where you need to go.

How

  • Conduct research and hold community outreach events regarding the needs and desires for public transportation downtown. 
  • Develop and implement a public transportation plan that improves safety, links transit to housing, food resources, employment centers, and connects to the downtown. The plan should also include attractive transit stops and amenities. 
  • Develop and implement and plan for advertising available transportation options.

Search Downtown Resource Library

Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

For example: Train, Interstate Bus, City Bus, CT FastTrack

4
  • Placement of transits stops is researched and links to multi-modal transit, housing, and employment centers in the district corridor.
  • Attractive transit stops with shelters are used.
  • Bus route has dedicated bus lanes for increased safety for boarding and deboarding.
3
  • Transit stops are well marked.
  • Transit stops with shelters are used.
2
  • Transit stops are marked by street signs.
  • Transit stops have benches.
1
  • There is no public transit.

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D.1.1 Bike-Friendly Culture

D.1.1 Bike-Friendly Culture

Action

Conduct community outreach. Research, develop and implement an active transportation plan that includes construction of (and signage for) safe, well-placed and attractive bike lanes and amenities throughout the downtown. 

Why

Active transportation, including bicycle riding, is a healthy, environmentally friendly, affordable, and fun way to make your journey to work, to shop, to play and to get back home again. If you use public transportation, sometimes you’ll need your bike to take you that “final mile” home from the train or bus. Main Street districts that have a bike-friendly culture enjoy improved safety, economic benefits and increased access to mobility options, overall vibrancy and foot traffic for your businesses. 

How

  • Conduct research and hold community outreach events regarding the needs and desires for active transportation downtown. 
  • Develop a master plan that includes bike lanes or bike corridors which link to multi-modal transit, housing, & employment centers, and connect downtown to other trails (if applicable).
  • Implement the plan. Construct protected bike lanes in your district using attractive visual contrast.
  • Conveniently locate bike racks in multiple locations throughout the Main Street district.
  • Develop and implement and plan for advertising available transportation options.

Search Downtown Resource Library

Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • There is a master plan that includes bike lanes or bike corridors in which placement is researched, links to multi-modal transit, housing, & employment centers, and connects district to trails (if applicable).
  • There are protected bike lanes with attractive visual contrast.
  • Bike racks are conveniently placed in multiple locations.
3
  • There is a master plan that includes bike lanes or bike corridors, or a plan is in progress.
  • There are protected bike lanes with attractive visual contrast.
  • Bike racks are conveniently placed in multiple locations.
2
  • There is a plan that includes bike lanes or bike corridors, or a plan is in progress, but there are no bike lanes yet.
1
  • There are no plans in place.

– AND/OR –

  • There are no bike lanes or bike corridors.

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CivicLift

CivicLift

Technology to build community and grow culture.

CivicLift specializes in enhancing community engagement and economic growth for towns and cities.

They offer two products: CommunityHUB and MUNI. CommunityHUB collects and showcases the heart of your town – Events, Places, Stories, and Jobs. This not only enriches community engagement but also supports economic development and municipal business growth.

MUNI is their ADA-compliant content management system that is simple for municipal staff to manage on the backend and easy for residents to navigate on the front end.

Services

Services include: Community & Economic Development

Visit their website

Contact

Taylor Funk
114 Vanderpoel Avenue
Bantam, CT 06750
435-512-0875

taylor@civiclift.com

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CMSC Webinar: Reimagining Communal Spaces to be More Community-Friendly

CMSC Webinar

Reimagining Communal Spaces to be More Community Friendly

Webinar Summary

Communal spaces play a vital role in every municipality. They bring residents together, provide recreation, boost the economy and even fuel healthier lifestyles. 

In this webinar, Celeste Frye, co-founder & CEO of Public Works Partners, LLC, shares strategies for designing communal spaces that proactively and thoughtfully meet the needs of the entire community. 


Presentation Highlights

  • What is a Communal Space?

    The question of where people congregate in your town should be approached sensitively and take into consideration all the different people who live in your community. This is important because it has repercussions regarding class, race, ethnic backgrounds and ability to access spaces (ability, age, etc.) When we’re designing communal places, they need to be truly welcoming inclusiveness of all community members.

    What is a Communal Space?

    • The purpose of a communal space is to be activated and invite people in to gather and connect. From an urban planning perspective, activating a place means the use of a public space to advance community building and social interaction, using strategies to proactively bring people into a space. This can be a simple as free wi-fi or tables and chairs.
    • It’s important to acknowledge that you may have different spaces for different groups within your town and that some spaces may feel hostile to different groups, for instance to those that are unhoused (homeless) or disabled.
  • Benefits of Communal Spaces

    There are 3 main benefits of communal spaces:

    • Build social networks by encouraging people to grow their personal networks
      • Communal spaces provide infrastructure and a setting for people to gather and share experiences, and to safely interact with others who they may not see or interact with otherwise – for instance, those of differing gender identities or religious affiliation.
    • Spur economic growth both in the space and in nearby neighborhoods
      • Attracting people to a space can encourage patronage of local businesses through design and use improvements.
      • Brick and mortar stores, façade improvements, and venues for food trucks can all help small businesses thrive.
      • Communal spaces can also draw people to different neighborhoods
      • Adaptive reuse of historic buildings can give them uses that match the current residents and their needs, for instance converting old schools into community or recreational centers.
    • Improve health and wellbeing through facilitating physical and social activity
      • Can include things like parks with walking trails or game spaces, but also downtowns with walkable streets.
      • Can use design elements that encourage people to move from space to space which can improve health and wellbeing, especially in places that have historically lacked them. Examples include wide sidewalks, protected bike lanes, public transit access
      • Examples of Communal Spaces
        • Parks – Green spaces that are visually attractive and allow for physical and social interactions
        • Markets – Vacant lots can be used for pop up markets or food trucks
        • Downtowns – in addition to commercial areas, they also house government buildings, libraries and social events like parades
  • How to Be Truly Community-Friendly

    To create places that are welcoming to the entire community, it’s imperative to incorporate key elements:

    • Accessibility – go above and beyond ADA requirements
      • The community’s ADA needs should be discussed at the beginning stages of planning, not at the end
      • ADA mostly focuses on physical accessibility but we should broaden our understanding of ADA or “universal” design to include mental cognitive ability and life cycle (i.e. kids, pregnant women or older people). For example, signage should be clear and easy to understand. Use multi-sensory signals, such as auditory signals at crosswalks. Haptic, or touch-based signals, (such as braille), help as well.
      • It’s also important to make sure access is continuous. Common obstacles are curb cuts that don’t connect to cross walks or protected bike lanes that end suddenly.
      • Incorporating accessibility elements creates an equitable opportunity for people to participate in these spaces.
    • Transportation
      • Active transportation gives people more ways to traverse a space. Think of protected bike lanes (and bike parking), protected bike lanes and wide sidewalks in addition to lanes for cars. Bollards and islands can be used to help separate lanes.
    • Green space
      • A community friendly space incorporates the natural environment for recreation, play and learning. Thoughtfully plan for and maximize green space – think about things like where you’ll you put it. What will it be like in real life? For instance, will trees work in the space or are planters better?
    • Safety & Comfort
      • This makes the place approachable and can include things like awnings over shops to provide shelter from the rain, trees for shade, human-scaled lighting, slower speed limits, and permanent and movable street seating.
  • Making It Happen

    • Begin by doing robust research
      • How do people use the space? How do they want to access it? What’s the history of the neighborhood? Is it changing? What are the community demographics? Why is the project happening here, now?
      • Talk to the community and observe how the space is currently used.
    • Make Your Plan
      • Once you have the research you can create your plan, laying out your goals and strategies. Include key milestones and successes, timeline, communication protocols, incorporate the community into the implementation, etc.
    • Implement Your Plan
      • Utilize connections made with businesses and community members to create some shared decision-making frameworks.
      • Bring the larger community in and get them excited about the project. While you’ll likely engage contractors for big changes, you might be able incorporate the community by doing site tours or things like group planting projects, ribbon cuttings, etc.
      • Clear communication will also help mitigate issues like construction noise or access. It’ll let you get feedback so you can respond to issues in a timely manner. Downtown managers are often key liaisons between the different stakeholders.
    • Manage Your Space
      • Discuss funding for maintenance and who will manage the space, have strategies to evaluate the space such as who’s using it at what time of day, then you can make changes as necessary.
    • Maintain Your Space
      • Weather and use can impact your space. What’s needed for maintenance on a seasonal basis? After a year or five years?
      • Report out to the community on your successes and efforts.
  • Real Life Examples

    • Syracuse Downtown Revitalization Initiative – Public Works was engaged to support the creation of a final strategic investment plan that’s directing $10m worth of state funding to select real estate and public infrastructure investments.
      • In this project they were reconnecting two different parts of the downtown to work against the affects of population decline and the legacy of urban renewal.
      • They facilitated a series of in person and virtual charrettes focused on things the community already said was important to them – pedestrian friendly streets, trees and green infrastructure, making streetscape and building improvements and preserving the cultural heritage of this neighborhood.
        • Their recommendations included improving sidewalks and streetscapes, adding lighting and wayfinding to encourage people to traverse the area, redeveloping certain properties to create commercial and pedestrian activity, and supporting outdoor vendor spaces.
      • Lessons learned
        • Important to reach out to people in a variety of way to meet people where they are.
        • Build on what’s already working and let community members easily identify what they already like, in this case a popular community center
        • Choose and incorporate elements that fit with the community.
    • NYC Streets Plan – Public Works led the NYC Streets Plan (NSP) Public Engagement Process (PEP) to support a NSP that would include the safety of all street users, the use of multi-modal mass transit, the reduction of vehicle emissions, and access for individuals with disabilities.
      • In many communities the most publicly owned land is actually the streets, so it’s beneficial to think how they can be utilized by all users, not just cars.
      • This purpose of this program was primarily to improve the safety of non-car users.
        • Had a online engagement platform, did phone surveys targeted to non-English speakers and people who traditionally didn’t participate, which allowed for a deeper reach into the community.
      • Lessons Learned
        • Defined the accessibility need for the engagement process and the plan up front
        • Provided flexibility around the times people could engage
        • Did a mix of small group engagement so everyone felt comfortable participating

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Other Resources

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About Celeste Frye

Co-Founder and CEO, Public Works Partners

An AICP-certified planner, Celeste Frye co-founded Public Works Partners more than a decade ago out of a passion to help mission-driven organizations increase their positive impact on local communities. She is a known expert in designing and implementing multi-stakeholder initiatives, building strong connections across the nonprofit, government and private sectors. Celeste is a member of the Regional Plan Association’s Connecticut Committee and the Coro New York Leadership Center’s Alumni Advisory Board. She was recognized with City & State’s 2021 Community Engagement Power 50 and Crain’s New York’s 2021 Notable Women Business Owners. Celeste received a M.S. in Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.A. in International Studies & French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Connecticut Main Street Center

P.O. Box 270
Hartford, CT 06141
860.280.2337

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P.O. Box 270, Hartford, CT 06141 | 860.280.2337