A brilliantly sunny and frigid morning marked U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy's, D-CT, meeting with Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and city officials Friday to discuss federal priorities at the local level.
Murphy is meeting with city and town officials about local projects across Connecticut to determine how best to advocate for them in the Senate.
"Middletown is a great town, but with Route 9 running right through the center of it, separating the downtown from the river, they need help from the federal government to try to make a little bit more sense of the infrastructure here," Murphy said.
Murphy, who was joined later by toured several areas in the city, including a housing project and the sewage treatment plant.
At the mayor's office, explained portions of the city's South Cove Connecticut riverfront planning presentation, which includes the waste treatment plant and Omo superfund site, Harbor Park and the street under Route 9.
Deputy Mayor and Councilman Robert Santangelo, and Common Councilman Todd Berch were also in attendance.
Warner explained some of the pluses pinpointed by the study were: the presence of more than 35 acres of developable land, its location adjacent to Harbor Park and downtown, and the more than 2,500 feet of waterfront land.
He also said minuses were the South Cove's access, the fact that its located on a floodplain, the current environmental contamination and its nearness to public housing.
First stop was the waste treatment plant, which will be deactivated once Middletown is connected to the Mattabassett District through the regionalization project. From that vantage point, Murphy could see the scenic view of the Connecticut River and downtown Middletown.
"Middletown has such enormous potential for development of the riverfront and I really want to make it one of my missions as the new U.S. Senator from Connecticut so the residents of Middletown and Connecticut can have access to this river," Murphy said.
Next, at Connecticut Valley Hospital's Merritt Hall, Drew pointed out the Waterhouse Development's proposed luxury apartments site and other features at this highpoint overlooking the city's riverfront.
In December, the developer withdrew his application for a tax abatement worth about $3.6 million to build a $36 million luxury apartment complex on River Road, but Drew said that plan may still be in the works Friday.
At Maplewood Terrace, Middletown Housing Authority Executive Director Bill Vasiliou pointed out this federally subsidized 47-unit complex off Walnut Street, which was built in 1973. Rents, he said, are income-dependent and run residents, the majority of whom work full-time, anywhere between $50 and $1,000 per month.
He pointed out the cameras which allow city officials and police personnel to view activity through a live web stream and said the next project he hoped to receive some federal funding for is redoing the underground gas lines.
"Connecticut is only one of four states in the country that has state housing in addition to federal housing," Vasiliou said. "We were the first public housing in the country to build a facility for the deaf and blind [at Monarca Place]."
Murphy touted the city's many assets which makes it such an appealing place to live, visit and do business.
"Middletown has the unique asset of Wesleyan, a growing, interesting and hip downtown, and access to a beautiful point on the Connecticut River. Mayor Drew is doing an excellent job here and I'm really eager to see if I can find him some federal funds to help him out," he said.
"I'm an outdoors guy, my family spends lot of time outdoors, so it's critical that we allow more families in cities access to the outdoors. If we can open up more of Middletown's riverfront, it's great for economic development, but it's also great for the health of families."