Officials discuss Canal Street referendum

Bonding $1 million for reconstruction of Canal Street will be up for voter approval in November’s referendum.

Jim Ryan, executive director of the Shelton Economic Development Corporation, came to the Board of Aldmermen’s Finance Committee meeting last month to discuss details and history of the project.

“Someone might say ‘Canal Street — why do you need $1 million on Canal Street’,” Ryan said. “It’s not paving job.”

The $1 million for work would go toward acquisition of easements and full-depth reconstruction, according to Ryan.

“We are finding utilities from the 1800s, we’re finding wooden conduit,” he told Aldermen. “There are old raceyways that used to come off of the canal.”

The reconstructed road would be wider. The reconstruction includes street-scaping, lighting improvements and utility work.

Why is reconstruction of the road important?

According to Ryan, it’s a necessary step in downtown revitilization and will help development of the surrounding area move forward. Construction of AvalonBay’s 250-unit complex is underway and other development proposals, both commercial and residential, are in the works for Canal Street, and the city needs to be sure the infrastructure is there.

The city commissioned a planning and marketing study about a year ago by a firm called Malone and MacBroom and the independent report looked at the impact of new private investment on downtown.

“They looked at the arithmetic of the properties, what they were producing in taxes before and what they they will produce in taxes,” Ryan said.

The study found that revenue generated from private investments like the Birmingham and AvalonBay will retire any investment the city makes, he said.

“And, this is my opinion, any investment you make over the next decade will be a source of permanent revenue for the city,” Ryan said.

But it isn’t just about tax revenue, he said

“It’s about health and safety, community and social aspects,” he said.

The $1 million is an incremental investment.

“This recognizes work that we expect to undertake over the next year to year and a half,” he said. “It doesn’t finish the whole job but we have a plan that’s laid out where we’ll be coming back and going through progress with the community when it’s appropriate.”