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Grant Could Help Oxford Establish a Clear Town Center

Town applies for up to $500,000 from the state's Main Street Investment Fund.

 

OXFORD - It's one of few criticisms that some have of the aesthetic beauty of this quaint New England town: there really is no defined town center.

That could change if the town locks up a $500,000 grant from the Connecticut Main Street Investment Fund run by the state's Small Town Economic Assistance Program.

"I think we have a great shot at obtaining this money because of the fact that we don't have much of a defined town center and that this could help entice commercial businesses to the area," said town grants administrator/writer Kathleen O'Neil, who boasts of a more than 90 percent success rate when writing grants for the town. "I believe this is a wonderful opportunity to enhance the center of town."

The Board of Selectmen last week unanimously gave O'Neil authority to apply for the grant. The program awards up to $500,000 for towns that have plans for the development of a town center. The funding can be used for sidewalks, lighting, signage, benches and other amenities.

The state defines a town commercial center as "A town's central business district or neighborhood commercial district that is the community's or neighborhood's 'hub' for well-integrated mix of commercial retail, commercial office, governmental, community, instructional, entertainment and residential activities. A vibrant town commercial center is a sustainable and walkable compact mix of land uses and transportation choices that attract residents and visitors to frequent the activities located at the center."

Oxford's proposed plan calls for enhancements from the to Old State Road No. 3, which is about a quarter-mile past the intersection for Route 67 and Route 42. The plan calls for a sidewalk, as well as decorative park benches and light poles; those would be placed on the same side of the road as the Town Hall and . There could also be signs that identify the area as "Oxford Center" or something similar.

O'Neil said the town should hear by the end of September whether it has received some or all of the grant money. If approved, the town would have to apply with land use boards before construction begins. That could happen sometime in the spring, if all goes as planned, O'Neil said.

Kate Anderson September 10, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Great news!
Craig Zac September 10, 2012 at 02:36 PM
A good town center should have some sort of sizable green, a place for people to bring the kids, to walk, to laze in the summer sun, to play frisbee, to meet, to picnic, to have outdoor things like a summer concert series or festivals. And yes it should also have business but more stores and shops than offices and governmental. a place where folks can park then walk (Sidewalks, are there ANY in town?) from shop to shop maybe a coffee shop and a little cafe type place or two with outside dining. Think center street in wallingford or downtown Seymour with its antique shops (but not as many and a better mix of stores...) or someplace like the milford green or better yet, the Guilford green. We are a small town with almost no small town charm. Not even a farmers market!
Joe Blow September 10, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Can somebody please explain to me how putting sidewalks in a village district, with little to no land to expand upon, will increase economic development and commercial activity.
debbie z. September 10, 2012 at 03:37 PM
so we would have to drive to the town hall and park in order to walk down 67 to the village district near riggs st and rte. 42 ?? and then what ?
CMG September 10, 2012 at 05:34 PM
nothing like ruining the quaint little New England town....if people wanted to live in a town like that, they could move to one...We are surrounded by that in Southbury and Seymour...we don't need it in our own town....Rt. 67 is a death trap as it is....
Will Wilkin September 10, 2012 at 05:50 PM
The historic farming identity of Oxford barely hangs on as replacement of family farms by factory farms is near complete; meanwhile population growth settled in automobile-based SPRAWL (housing developments). So walking is now impractical, biking is unsafe, and we get fatter and fatter becoming more and more dependent on fossil fuels ruining the climate and funding the terrorists we shred our Constitution to fight. The project described in the article is no doubt being envisioned simply because that is what the state grants are earmarked for. While some towns with a real walkable downtown could use revitalization, it doesn't seem to me to have much to do with how Oxford's residents actually live. In Oxford, a half million would be better spent making sure our schools are energy efficient and of maximum educational use.
Karen Mandeville September 10, 2012 at 07:34 PM
It would be nice to see Oxford have an Arts district with a few small Mom & Pop shops. Farmers market, handmade items shoppe, gallery & coffee shop would be nice too!
Kenn Maher September 10, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Will Wilken and Joe blow hit the nail right on the head!! Kenn Maher
Dave September 10, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Ken, As you know grant are created for certain purposes and for lack of a better word "themes". you can't use a revitalization grant to build a school or a school grant for a road project. this grant is for defining a town center and if Oxford is not chosen, another town center project will be funded in another town with the money. So why not Oxford? The first step is always the hardest.
Kenn Maher September 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Dave, so let a town that needs revitalizing apply for it. We have no room in that section of town. How about a community center that all can use,farmers market, ball fields, community garden, skate park(not all kids want to play team sports!). We could fit it all at Twin Brooks. Kenn Maher
Citizen X September 28, 2012 at 05:27 AM
It might sound like a lot, but $500,000 isn't going to get the town very much. The reason that there is no defined town center is that......there's no town center. You can't just create one by putting up some signs & having a few benches along Rt. 67. I don't see how you could create one, even if you doubled the amount of that grant. Town centers don't just spring up, & this wouldn't be a revitalization, this would be starting from nothing. Rt. 67 is not exactly a place where you'd have something like this. Oxford is what it is, nothing more & nothing less. Being what it is, I don't see how a Town center would make sense, & I certainly don't think any of the businesses there would last. Downtown Seymour? Dare to dream!
Janis Hardy October 01, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Amen, Citizen X!

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