State gives $4 million to Waterbury to rejuvenate downtown economy

New Haven

Mayor Neil O’Leary calls it an important economic corridor in downtown Waterbury. East Main Street is home to the Palace Theater, UCONN Waterbury’s downtown campus and a new student dorm in the renovated Brown Building.

Now, the mayor is sharing with the public his visions for the next phase of downtown development and improvements in the East Main Street corridor. It includes a $4 million grant from Governor Malloy’s administration to help spur economic rejuvenation there. Mayor Neil O’Leary is sharing his plans on how to spend that money and get public input at a public forum.

The mayor says he has plans to spend the money on improvement projects in that part of downtown that would attract new businesses and more people.

The mayor is focusing on fixing sidewalks that are filled with cracks and part of the brick street that’s filled with pockets of potholes and cracks, as well.

“The sidewalks are cracked and broken in many places and they don’t provide adequate handicap accessibility, which really bothers me,” the mayor said. “The bricks are broken down and uneven.”

The rundown condition of the road keeps some drivers from coming into the area.

“I’m not trying to ruin my car,” said Julian Parra.

The mayor also wants to dig up East Main Street to replace the system of water mains underground.

“The water main is 110 years old,” the mayor said. “And we’ve had so many issues with it.”

At least one business owner on East Main Street believes the intention to improve things is good, but he worries about the impact to his business when the work gets going early next year and the area is blocked off.

Nicos Michael, owner of Louie’s Pizza House says he plans to be at the public forum, which began at 6:30 Thursday night at UCONN’s Downtown Waterbury campus on East Main Street.

“I’m going to bring up the concerns that I have over the interruption of business,” he said.

The mayor says the work would pay off long term.

“This is vitally important for Waterbury’s future,” he said. 

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