Raising glasses in a champagne toast on Friday, October 4, officials and residents seated along a decorative stone wall and standing on a new stamped concrete walkway on the corner of Riverside Road and Washington Avenue cheered as antique-style lampposts suddenly lit.
Flipping a switch in a circuit box across from the intersection, First Selectman Pat Llodra watched the lamps light, then quickly returned to the crowd for a sip of champagne. Friday celebrated the completion of Phase II streetscape in Sandy Hook Center.
The Riverside Road and Washington Avenue intersection especially saw significant change as the streetscape — a project to improve the small Sandy Hook business district’s walkways, lighting, and aesthetic appeal — transformed the area. A utility pole in the middle of the street, which created a traffic hazard, was removed from the intersection. Instead, much of the utility pole’s and wiring was relocated to new poles, the street’s curbing and walkways were redone to create larger walking areas along Glen Road, Washington Avenue, and partway up Riverside Road, and a new large evergreen sits opposite The Glen property beside Sabrina Style, which overlooks the Pootatuck River. An older evergreen used in the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in December will come down in future years, and the new tree will take its place as the Sandy Hook holiday centerpiece.
Along the stamped concrete walkways are decorative light poles and landscaping, and at the crosswalks, walk buttons have been installed for pedestrians.
Minutes before Mrs Llodra lit the new lighting, Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP) President Mike Burton and many other SHOP members and supporters gathered for a happy hour at The Villa Restaurant. Speaking with the first selectman was Rob Manna of LRM Landscape Contractors Inc, the company that did the streetscape work. Fire Chief Bill Halstead and his wife, Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia Halstead, spoke briefly with Meribeth Hemingway and her daughter Sarah. Her husband and SHOP Vice President Joe Hemingway spent some time with Legislative Council member Mary Ann Jacob, Bob Llodra, and Kyle Lyddy.
The group of roughly 25 guests on The Villa patio overlooking the revamped intersection quieted as Mr Burton asked for their attention. Thanking them for the “great turnout,” he said the evening was a culmination of streetscape’s phase II. “We had great support from merchants, [Pat Llodra], and the taxpayers,” turning the small shopping district into “a great asset to Sandy Hook.” He asked that they next walk along the new sidewalk from The Villa lot to the corner for the champagne toast.
Once there, Mr Manna hopped on top of the stone wall. “We’re all proud of the transformation, thank you.” Squeezing together for a photo were Ryan Clark, KateLynn Murray, and Mr Burton. PJ’s Laundromat owner Sharon Doherty toasted with friend Courtney Taylor, while Sandy Hook Hair Company owner Bonnie Fredericks was also raised her glass in a toast.