Gov. Ned Lamont today announced that as part of his ongoing efforts to promote economic development and meet the needs of Connecticut businesses and the workforce, he is forming a task force of local and private sector leaders and state agency representatives to advance transit-oriented development (TOD) within Fairfield County.
The mission of the group, the Governor’s Task Force on Transit-Oriented Development in Fairfield County, will be to advance a shared regional vision that drives economic vibrancy and growth in the region by providing residents with access to opportunities for employment, education, and housing in walkable communities co-located with transit, an announcement said.
“We’re building a Connecticut that supports continued growth through the next generation, leaning forward to meet the needs of our residents and businesses now and in the future,” Lamont said.
“In tandem with our laser focus on improving transportation across the state, we also need to advance the development that our workforce, communities, and employers want to see — walkable communities with a range of housing options and services, co-located with transit hubs.
“We have an incredible opportunity to provide what our current residents are seeking, from millennials to retirees, and draw new residents to Connecticut by providing the type of communities they want.
“This task force will bring together local stakeholders with state agencies to drive a regional vision, forge public-private cooperation, and move forward specific projects.”
The task force will be co-chaired by Robert Wienner, of JDA Development Company and Trout Brook Realty Advisers, and Jessica Casey, Chief of Economic and Community Development for the City of Norwalk, the announcement said.
Lisa Tepper Bates, the governor’s Senior Coordinator for Housing and Transit Oriented Development, will coordinate the work of the task force. Christie Stewart, Director of the Fairfield County Center for Housing Opportunity, will provide additional support.
The group will be administered within the Office of the Governor, emphasizing the centrality of its work to the overall goals of the Lamont administration.
“I’m honored to be part of this effort to realize the potential of Fairfield County to provide the vibrant, dynamic communities that meet the needs of our residents in the 21st century,” Wienner said. “Private developers are important partners for the state, and I am pleased to bring my knowledge and expertise to this table.”
Wienner is best known as the force behind West Hartford’s transformative 600,000 square foot live-work-play development, Blue Back Square, and is in the process of retiring from active development.
“This effort represents an important opportunity to transform neighborhoods by establishing a mix of uses and housing options that will draw new residents to our communities, increasing economic activity, further enhancing diversity and expanding the tax base,” Casey said.
“There are more than two million millennials in the Greater New York area and thousands of students graduating each year from Connecticut-based colleges. Through this task force, we can forge a regional response to provide the mix of housing, transportation options, and economic development opportunities they are seeking.”
In addition to her work leading economic development in Norwalk, Casey brings to this role extensive experience working to advance TOD as Chief Officer for Operations Policy and Oversight at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the announcement said.
“Consistent with the governor’s goal of streamlining the work of state government, this task force will bring together at one table leading regional stakeholders from the public and private sectors with decision makers from key state agencies to identify and facilitate targeted TOD projects,” Bates said. “Our mission is to work collaboratively across sectors and state agencies to mitigate barriers to development and drive economic activity.”
“We are thrilled to be part of this effort to bring innovative national models to the region to advance equitable community development and housing around transit hubs,” Stewart said. “Through this work, we believe we can help Fairfield County communities to attract and retain younger workers and families to the region.
Other members of the task force will include the leadership of state agencies that play important roles with regard to transit oriented development, as well as planning and development officials from Fairfield County, representatives of the Councils of Government, and senior leadership of a stakeholder organizations, including universities, philanthropy, and business.
The task force will hold its first meeting Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Sacred Heart University Martire Center Forum at 5481 Park Ave. in Fairfield.
Additional information about the task force, including a list of members, meeting agendas, and minutes, can be found in the “working groups” section of the governor’s website at http://www.governor.ct.gov.