Community Development

Imagining Change in the Places We Know Best…

 

Over the Christmas holiday, my family and I made our usual trek to my hometown, Baltimore. It never fails that during our trip I am caught off-guard by the continually changing landscape, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. While many of Baltimore’s neighborhoods continue to remain distressed, many have seen positive changes since I left the city a dozen years ago. Completely new neighborhoods have been created and others are undergoing transformations that I find unbelievable at times. These places have an energy that is exciting to experience.

Why do I mention this? Well, it occurred to me that I am no different from my fellow Connecticut residents who often are surprised by the changes that have taken place in their towns over the decades. And I realized that in the places you know best, it’s often hard to imagine change or to see those places as any different from the way they are today.

The challenge for Connecticut is that we must stretch ourselves and re-imagine our communities if the state is going to remain an attractive place to live for future generations. In December, the Partnership organized a two-day workshop on transit-oriented development for towns along the state’s new transit investments. Town officials and residents expressed real interest and enthusiasm for the possibilities that exist at those station areas.

In addition, the Partnership, CT Fund for the Environment, Regional Plan Association and Tri-State Transportation Campaign have developed a new Transit-Oriented Development Toolkit for CT that offers ideas and resources for towns on issues like community engagement, zoning, mixed-income housing, complete streets, parking, green infrastructure and green energy solutions.

Much hard work remains, from capturing the ideas of residents to forming actionable plans to implementing those plans. But, I remind myself, other places have done it and we in Connecticut can do it, too.

Christina Rubenstein is the Senior Poilcy Analyst at the Partnership for Strong Communities.

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