Stepping across new, pressed concrete sidewalks Monday afternoon, Senator Chris Murphy saw improvements that the streetscape project has brought to Sandy Hook Center.
He was also in town for a bite to eat at The Villa with Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP) Vice President Joe Hemingway — a lunch date that Mr Hemingway won in a recent SHOP fundraising event.
Mr Hemingway wanted to thank the senator “for all his support,” noting that he “has been visible, and has been around” to help the community.
First Selectman Pat Llodra joined the men for a walk through downtown and several stops at local businesses. Talking about the streetscape — an improvement plan reshaping Sandy Hook Center — Mrs Llodra explained that work had started 12 years ago and the town has been “chipping away” ever since then. With the new sidewalks, removal of a telephone pole at the Riverside Road intersection, and new landscaping, she said, “This year we see a big difference. Streetscape work is paid for through grants and town funds. Local businesses have also added their efforts by maintaining their ‘frontages.’” she said. “It’s a public, private, government partnership.”
Approaching the crosswalk, Mrs Llodra said the intent for Sandy Hook Center is to “develop a walkable, bikeable, nice environment.” She hopes to see foot traffic “walking to delis and restaurants,” and enjoying the small village shops. She and Mr Hemingway both hope to see sidewalk work continue down Glen Road, Washington Avenue, and up Riverside Road as far as the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company main fire station.
Mr Murphy and his assistant, Brett Maddux, walked past shop fronts and turned into the parking lot where PJ’s Laundromat sits alongside the Pootatuck River. He spoke briefly with several residents before heading toward Church Hill and stopping at The Wishing Well, where he spoke with shop employee Kathy Sitar, asking how business has been.
Family Fun Kuts owner Marci Benitez next greeted Sen Murphy, where he again paused to speak with residents there.
With a last stop at The Toy Tree where he shopped for a gift for his son’s birthday, Sen Murphy considered the changes to downtown. The Sandy Hook village “seems like it is supposed to have looked like that. It looks natural,” he said. He knows it is not easy to get people to shop “in little downtowns,” he said, “so small projects like this make a difference.”
He added that the streetscape is a “testament to the merchants’ unanimity.”
Mr Hemingway again thanked the senator for his visibility and support for Sandy Hook and for SHOP.