The Third Annual Smart Growth Conference, Today, 2 to 8 p.m., 950 Main St., Hartford

Mar 18th, 2010 | By | Category: Bicycling, Long Island Sound, Open Space, Pollution, River, Smart Growth, Water Conservation

Below is a summary of the 14 workshops currently scheduled for the two afternoon break out sessions for our upcoming Smart Growth Conference on March 18.  You will have your choice of attending one workshop during each session.  There may be some unforeseen changes and/or adjustments to the workshops over the next ten days but we wanted to give you an idea of the extensive professional background and expertise of our presenters and panelists and the broad range of interesting and dynamic topics of our workshops.

You can also listen to a story by Nancy Cohen on Connecticut Public Radio by clicking here.

Please tell them you heard about it in CT Environmental Headlines. Thanks.

Conference Agenda:

1:30 – 2 Registration, front foyer of 960 Main St.

2 – 2:15 Welcome Sue Merrow, Chair, 1000 Friends of Connecticut, G. Fox Room, 960 Main St.

2:15 – 2:30 Opening Remarks Mayor Eddie A. Perez, G. Fox Room, 960 Main St.

2:30 – 3:30 Development Oriented Transit Rick Gustafson, E.D. Portland Streetcars, Inc., G. Fox Room, 960 Main St.

3:45 – 4:55 Workshop Session One 10th & 11th floor classrooms, Capital Community College, 950 Main St.

5:05 – 6:15 Workshop Session Two 10th & 11th floor classrooms, Capital Community College, 950 Main St.

6:30 – 8 Dinner, Keynote Address David Owen, author Green Metropolis, State of the State; Smart Growth in Connecticut Tom Condon, editor of Place commentary of The Hartford Courant, G. Fox Room, 960 Main St.

Pre-register either online at or fill out attached brochure form and mail in check payable to 1000 Friends of Connecticut, PO Box 1988, Hartford, CT, 06144.  We do have a limited capacity and expect to sell out so pre-registering is strongly encouraged!

Workshops Session One:   3:45 to 4:55 p.m.

1. Clean Water and Smart Growth

Presenters:  Charles P. Sheehan, Chief Executive Officer, MDC and Robert E. Moore, Chief Administrative Officer, MDC

The Metropolitan District Commission, created in 1929, is one of the first metropolitan governments in the United States, and one of the most successful.  Today it daily demonstrates the economies of scale and cost efficiencies that can be produced by functional collaboration among its member municipalities to provide water and sewer services to central Connecticut. And by embarking on a carefully planned and managed “sewer-separation” project, it is playing a major role in reducing nitrogen content in the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound – preserving these iconic resources for the enjoyment of future generations.  All of these projects demonstrate the benefits of deliberately and carefully constructing long-term plans.

The workshop explores how this archetypical metropolitan government operates to achieve smart growth, with the intention of stimulating new ideas of how it can better serve its constituents.

2. Active Transportation:  An Essential Ingredient for Smart Growth

Presenters: Ken Livingston, Fitzgerald & Halliday, Jeff Olson, Alta Planning and Kartik Sribarra, Manager of Policy Outreach, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Nearly half of all trips in the state are three miles or less, and one quarter are one mile or less, but very few of these are taken on foot or via bicycle.  Communities across the country have realized that years of transportation policy focused on the automobile have not curbed ever-increasing congestion and have led to a decline in livability.  They are now focusing upon “active transportation”, investing in transportation improvements that lead to demonstrable increases in biking and walking AND create more livable communities.  This session will provide a tour of what is happening in our state and nationwide to promote active transportation and how these investments work hand in hand with a local commitment to smart growth.

3. The Zoning Tool Box Project

Presenters: Dwight Merriam, Robinson and Cole, Adjunct Faculty at University of Connecticut School of Law

Students at the University of Connecticut School of Law this last Fall developed an annotated zoning ordinance of almost 400 pages as a tool for Connecticut towns to use in bringing their zoning regulations up to contemporary standards.  Members of the class will describe their project in a session moderated by their teacher, Dwight Merriam.

4. Through the Lens of Climate Change and Sustainability: Innovative Approaches to Familiar Issues in our Country, State, Regions and Municipalities

Moderator: Representative David McCluskey

Presenters: Lynn Stoddard, Environmental Analyst, Office of Pollution Prevention & Climate Change, CT Department of Environmental Protection, Emily Moos, AICP Senior Community Development Planner, Capitol Region Council of Governments, Lyle Wray, PhD. Executive Director, Capitol Region Council of Governments, and Gary Anderson, AICP Senior Planner, Town of Manchester, CT

What does it take to create a sustainable community and what does that community look like?

This session will provide a panel of state, regional and local leaders currently in the process of promoting sustainable communities to talk about their efforts and their visions for the future.  Panelists will outline new federal partnerships and opportunities supporting sustainable communities, showcase new efforts at the state level toward reaching climate change goals, highlight the products of regional partnerships toward promoting sustainability and provide a glimpse of what a comprehensive approach to sustainable development could look like on the ground in Connecticut’s municipalities.

5. Getting There From Here: The New London Parade Project

Presenters: Bruce Hyde, AICP, Senior Planner, Wilbur Smith Associates, David Stahnke, Division Manager, Wilbur Smith Associates, Sandra Chalk, Executive Director, New London Landmarks, Jim Butler, Executive Director, Southeastern CT Council of Governments, Ned Hammond, Economic Development Coordinator, New London

The City of New London is only 6 square miles and has a population of 26,000 but shares the same kinds of urban issues facing larger cities.  An initiative by the city to address downtown traffic concerns led to an additional effort to address a broad range of issues, including those created by Urban Renewal in the 1960′ & 70’s. The city was able to coordinate traffic improvements with infrastructure improvements that contribute to a more pedestrian friendly, livable downtown environment. These improvements include traffic calming, a total reconstruction of the Parade (plaza) area, re-establishment of pedestrian connections between downtown, the waterfront, parking and the transportation center, improvements to downtown “gateways” and creation of outdoor exhibits celebrating New London’s maritime heritage.

The workshop will focus on how the effort to clam traffic in downtown New London resulted in major improvements in the urban core of the city.  The project is scheduled for completion this spring.

6. From a Culture of Parking to Walking for Culture:  Downtown Hartford and the iQuilt Project

Presentation 1: Norman Garrick, Director, UConn Center for Transportation & Urban Planning and Chris McCahill, Doctoral Student, UConn CTUP

Presentation 2: Doug Suisman, Principal, Suisman Urban Design  and Tyler Smith, Principal, Smith Edwards Architects

The first presentation will cover the work by Professor Garrick and his graduate students documenting the 200% expansion, between 1960 and 2000, of urban space allocated to parking in downtown Hartford. It will consider the causes and consequences of this growth, and examine the prospects for re-use of this space to improve livability, vitality and sustainability, re-connect downtown to the neighborhoods, increase residential density, and support regional economic strategies. Lessons learned may be widely applicable in other urbanized areas of Connecticut.

The second presentation will show the latest version of the iQuilt project for downtown Hartford, which would physically link its wealth of cultural institutions and activities with an enhanced pedestrian network. It envisions significantly improved public spaces, including existing jewels like Bushnell Park and several new public squares and walkways. The plan is intended to increase walking, biking and transit use both by residents and visitors. It is an exercise in re-envisioning the city that may be useful to planners, developers, and strategists in other Connecticut cities.

7. Supporting Smart Growth Projects:  The New 1000 Friends Project Scorecard Program

Presenters: Toni Gold, President of Urban Edge Associates and Chair, Project Scorecard Committee and Dara Kovel, Chief Housing Officer, CT Housing Finance Authority

Is smart growth anti-growth?  If not, then what projects would smart growth advocates support?  A number of real estate project sponsors have asked 1000 Friends of Connecticut to go to bat for their projects in their struggles for permits and approvals.  In response, the organization in the last year developed a “smart growth scorecard” to rate projects, and a committee with wide professional expertise to administer the program.

Three projects have been scored to date: 360 State Street in New Haven; Storrs Center in Mansfield; and Metro Green in Stamford.  The workshop, presented by two of those who developed and now help administer the program, explains the scorecard and the thinking behind it, discusses the specific projects and demonstrates the kind of support that 1000 Friends is able to provide to projects that meet smart growth criteria.

Workshops Session Two: 5:05 to 6:15 p.m.

8. Rethinking Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct: Win-Win-Win Solutions for the 21st Century City

Presenters: David Spillane, AICP, RIBA, Principal/Director of Planning and Urban Design, Goody Clancy and David Stahnke, PE, Associate in Charge, Wilbur Smith Associates

Cities across the nation are grappling with aging highway infrastructure that is approaching the end of its life. Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct is a nationally prominent example of this phenomenon.  As the state’s highest volume roadway it provides critical access to Hartford’s core and the region’s largest employment center .  But the deteriorating structure requires almost continuous and expensive repairs that are a drain on state resources. The HUB of Hartford Committee, appointed by the City of Hartford, is working with the Capital Region Council of Governments, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, a consultant team to explore alternatives for replacing the Viaduct.  This innovative partnership between city, regional and state partners is  seeking creative and cost-effective solutions that integrate community, urban design, economic development and transportation concerns-and maximize public benefits.

The session will report on the process that led to the study, the work that is currently underway and emerging directions.

9. Culture & Economy: What Wendell Berry Can Teach us about Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities

Presenters: William Hosley, Principal, Terra Firma Northeast, formerly Executive Director, New Haven Museum & Connecticut Landmarks, Robert Thorson, Professor of Geology, Ecology & Anthropology, University of Connecticut, columnist, The Hartford Courant and Phillip Langdon, Senior Editor of New Urban News, columnist, The Hartford Courant

Wendell Berry is the poet laureate of place whose writings belong at the core of any place-based pedagogy or public policy initiative. Berry observes that “the vitality of a local economy is strikingly related to the vitality of local community. A strong local economy depends on a love of place which depends on the stories we repeat to another.” The concept of “Solving for pattern,” coined by Berry, is the process of finding solutions that solve multiple problems, while minimizing the creation of new problems. Good solutions often require paradigm shifts. Putting our shared “smart growth” reforms in transportation, housing, education; land use and stewardship of natural and historic resources in the larger context of place-making and community renewal may bring greater unity and coherence to seemingly disparate elements.

This presentation and panel discussion will relate smart growth for a healthy economy to Wendell Berry’s thoughts and writing about place-making, community and the patterns of behavior that lead to good solutions.

10. Utilizing History and the Arts to Revitalize Downtown Danbury

Presenters: Brad Schide, Circuit Rider Program, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Peter G. Bachmann, AIA, Studio Director, JCJ Architecture, Steven A. Wolff, Principal, AMS Planning and Research, Fairfield, CT  and Dennis Elpern, Director of Planning, City of Danbury

Every city and town in Connecticut has historic assets in their downtowns, many of them underutilized.  Across the nation cities like Danbury are beginning to re-examine their downtown historic cores to see opportunities that produce vibrancy and livable environments. The historic Palace Theater was constructed in 1926, is located in the heart of downtown Danbury and closed in 1995. A grant funded an interdisciplinary team of professionals (the workshop’s panelists) to study the restoration and reuse of this once majestic theater. The hands-on study, currently under way, will also look at the arts market to define a specific role/audience in the region and state for the Palace Theater’s events.  The completed study, expected to take six months, will produce a “roadmap” to bring back the theater to its initial prominence, both from a rehabilitation and building code viewpoint and market analysis viewpoint.  Such a study could be a model for other municipalities as they re-examine historic assets in their downtowns.

11. The Sustainable Communities Initiative: How Connecticut can have its cake and eat it, too!

Moderator: David Fink, Policy Director, Partnership for Strong Communities

Presenters: DECD Commissioner Joan McDonald, DOT Dep. Commissioner Jeffrey Parker, DEP Chief of Staff Graham Stevens, and David Kooris, AICP, Vice President, Regional Plan Association

From HOMEConnecticut to brownfields to the state’s responsible growth initiative, housing, transit, environment and energy policymakers are coming together to take advantage of the federal government’s Sustainable Communities Initiative, a HUD-EPA-DOT collaboration that promises to offer planning and capital funds in coming years to create strategically-located affordable housing near transit in energy-efficient designs so Connecticut can grow, and take care of all its residents, without eating up open space or threatening environmental quality.

This panel will explore the new resources being brought to the table by these agencies and how coordination at the federal level could result in improved regional planning in Connecticut.

12. Using the Plan of Conservation and Development as a Tool to Achieve Smart Growth

Presenters: Robert Orr, FAIA, is an architect and planner from New Haven, CT

Every town in Connecticut is required to create (and update every 10 years) a Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). The purpose of a POCD is to record the best thinking of the Town as to its future growth and to give direction to both public and private development. The POCD should encompass a long-term vision of the community but also offer guidance for short-term decision- making. In practice, the POCD is an admirable and valuable document, but its legacy is mostly one of collecting dust on a shelf until it’s appointed schedule for review and update. It seldom performs as a pro-active shaper of development.

One of the major focuses of Smart Growth planning is to change perspective from large-scale auto oriented development to small scale pedestrian oriented development. This workshop will examine the impact of past policies and explore how the POCD might be a more appropriate outlet for such Smart Growth principles, and how the POCD might become a more pro-active player in Smart Growth community development.

13. How Complete Streets Can Transform Our Communities

Presenters: Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island, Nicole Freedman, Boston’s Bike Czar and Erin Sturgis-Pascale, Connecticut Livable Streets Campaign

In the late 1800s, Col. Albert Pope of Hartford (and of Columbia Bicycles) and other New England bicyclists formed the League of American Wheelman (now known as the League of American Bicyclists) and rallied around the cry for Better Roads.  Today bicyclists are still working for improved conditions on the roads.  The Connecticut Complete Streets bill, passed in 2009, requires that all transportation projects address the needs of all road users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. This session will addresses what should expect as our state’s streets and roads transition to complete streets

14. Brownfields Redevlopment: How to Keep the Progress Going, Opportunities for the Future

Moderator: David F. Hurley, PG, LEP – Vice President Fuss & O’Neill, Inc.
Panelists: Mark K. McGovern, Deputy Director, Department of Development Services, City of Hartford; Dale Kroop, Director of Economic and Community Development, Town of Hamden; Mark Pelligrini, Director of Neighborhood Services and Economic Development

The current economic climate poses significant challenges to communities across the country as they try to proactively address brownfield sites.  The panel will discuss what strategies and tools they are using to redevelop brownfield sites in today’s economy and explore the opportunities they see for the future.

For conference information or questions please call:

Kirsten Griebel 1000 Friends of Connecticut P.O. Box 1988 Hartford, CT  06144-1988
860 523 0003 office

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Comment