Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rewire State's Electrical System

An Op-Ed from the Hartford Courant
By Jefferson B. Davis of Pomfret, who serves on 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Board of Directors.

"Now that Connecticut's electrical power has been fully restored, the typical governmental responses are kicking in: point fingers, hold hearings and propose changes to existing practices. And, as is also typical, the discussions will take place within a distinct silo of a single issue. In this case it is the pre and post storm performance of Connecticut Light & Power.

It doesn't have to be that way. By thinking more broadly and strategically, Connecticut could turn its view forward instead of backward and become a trailblazer in how power is created and distributed while driving new job creation."

Read the rest of the op-ed in the Hartford Courant by following this link:,0,6027764.story

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Smart Growth P.O.V. on CTLCV

Environmentalists gathered earlier this week in downtown Hartford to discuss “Environmental Excellence in a time of Economic Constraint,” signaling the Connecticut League of Conservation Voter’s understanding that Connecticut’s economy can grow while still respecting our state’s historic environmental traditions. The League’s 12th Annual Environmental Summit featured three riveting panel discussions—spanning across public officials, advocates, and private entrepreneurs who engaged in passionate discussions about topics that are essential to Smart Growth policy and near and dear to 1000 Friends of Connecticut's heart: brownfield remediation, green infrastructure, energy-efficiency, transit-oriented development, and ensuring these initiatives result in a more business-friendly environment (literally) that creates jobs for our residents.

Susan Merrow, President of 1000 Friends’ Board of Directors, spoke on a panel with the commissioners from the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Transportation, along Peter Malkin of Malkin Holdings, LLC about “Transportation, the Environment, and the Economy.” Joe McGee of the Business Council of Fairfield County moderated the discussion, ensuring a proper mix of questions to address the business community’s and environmentalist’ concerns. All agreed that Connecticut’s sprawling development patterns have had disastrous impacts not only on our state’s environment, but also on our residents’ and businesses’ pocketbooks.

According to Commissioner Redeker from ConnDOT, we must invest in developing in areas along transit lines and the government must be upfront with the development community about where state funding will facilitate private investment. Peter Malkin, Chairman of Malkin Holdings LLC, Malkin Properties, and their affiliates, appealed to environmentalists in the room by his response to a question on climate change and the effects of unpredictable weather, brought to the public’s awareness by two recent storms that left hundreds of thousands without power for days on end. Malkin described the “tragedy in cutting down hundreds of thousands of trees to address problems raised by current infrastructure.”

Commissioner Dan Esty of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection provided the keynote speech of the evening. According to the Hartford Courant’s Rick Green, Commissioner Esty stated, “It's not retrenchment. We have an opportunity to remake environmental protection for the 21st century. You can't focus on the environment in isolation.'' CTLCV’s guests left the event with an encouraging sense that the public-private partnerships needed to protect our state’s limited natural resources in a time of economic disparity are finally upon us and everyone involved has moved past “talking the talk” to “walking the walk.”

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters has identified their legislative priorities for the upcoming session as Water Quality, Land-Use and Open Space Preservation, Energy-Efficiency, a Multi-Modal Transportation System, reducing exposure to Toxins and Waste, and ensuring DEEP has the resources needed to be effective. 1000 Friends of Connecticut gives kudos to the League for its efforts in keeping issues moving forward in a way that benefits the environment and the economy at the same time.

If you missed the event, you can listen to it on WNPR or watch it on CT-N.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Commissioner Redeker Outlines ConnDOT's Vision

1000 Friends of Connecticut joined Commissioner Redeker from the state Department of Transportation and Mayor DeStefano last Thursday in downtown New Haven to discuss the new Commissioner's vision for his agency. Commissioner Redeker brings with him a deep experience of mass transit--bus and rail--to the agency, along with an invigorating commitment to institutionalizing principles of Smart Growth within ConnDOT.

In addition to his experience and commitment, Redeker has the support of the Malloy Administration. His agency is working closely with the Department of Economic and Community Development and the new Department of Energy and Environmental Protection--a prerequisite to 1000 Friends' Smart Growth Agenda that restores economic vitality to our state's regions.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Commissioner Esty Applauds 1000 Friends of Connecticut

Several new faces joined 1000 Friends of Connecticut last night in the City Trust Building Complex, a mixed-use development located centrally in downtown Bridgeport, for an intimate meet-and-greet with Mayor Finch of Bridgeport and Commissioner Dan Esty of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

1000 Friends of Connecticut provided members of the community and important key-players in Bridgeport with a unique opportunity to shake hands with Mayor Finch and Commissioner Esty and to learn more about issues that affect their everyday lives at an exclusive Leadership Reception.

Afterwards, the two public officials spoke to the public on their respective initiatives and the prospects of furthering a Smart Growth agenda as engines of growth wake from the recession all around us. Commissioner Esty stressed the importance of partnerships in this critical time--not only between local, state, and the federal government--but the cross-sector partnerships that 1000 Friends of Connecticut and its Smart Growth agenda represents. The Commissioner gave thanks to 1000 Friends for bringing so many different stakeholders to one table and for embracing the type of collaboration that's required to address our state's limited resources and fiscal constraints.

Mayor Finch and Commissioner Esty both reported that bright times are ahead, but reaching it and maintaining it requires commitment not only from the government, but on the ground as well. Join the thousands in our collaboration to curb sprawling development by signing up for our Campaign to Grow Connecticut Smart or by making a contribution. Get more information at our web site. While you're there, register to hear Commissioner Redeker at the 2nd Speaking Event in our Fall Speaker Series!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Commissioner Dan Esty to Speak about Smart Growth

Bridgeport, CT—Commissioner Dan Esty of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will be speaking to the public on his agency’s visions for creating a sustainable development model supported by smart land-use decisions that integrate rational mass transit, economic development, and smart-energy practices on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 6:30 P.M at the City Trust Building Complex in downtown Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The free event kicks off 1000 Friends of Connecticut’s fall speaker series, “Putting Connecticut Back on its Tracks,” which aims to highlight the rare opportunities our regions face in curbing the sprawling development that has turned our highways into parking lots every morning and every evening during rush hour. The series as a whole speaks to the prospect of furthering a Smart Growth agenda as the fiscally responsible solution to our state’s economic and environmental threats.

Nichole Strack, 1000 Friends’ Executive Director, stated, “As we speak, Governor Malloy is focusing his attention on economic growth and job creation. With the legislative session a few short months away, we have our best opportunity in years to make a difference on smart land-use planning and economic development.”

Susan Merrow, 1000 Friends’ Chair of Directors, added, “This event gives our stakeholders and our public officials a perfect occasion to break free from the frustration of finding themselves working in silos and we are all excited to contribute to the dialogue that will continue into next year’s legislative session.”

1000 Friends of Connecticut, a statewide Smart Growth education and advocacy non-profit, will host two more events this fall, featuring Commissioner James Redeker of Connecticut’s Department of Transportation in New Haven and Commissioner Catherine Smith of the Department of Economic and Community Development in Hartford. For more information, visit the group’s web site at

Monday, September 19, 2011

A letter from the Director

Dear Friends,

On behalf of 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Board of Directors, I am proud to announce that 1000 Friends of Connecticut is moving forward with several new initiatives.

Two years ago, our group lead the effort to codify the six livability principles of Smart Growth into legislation. Our Board of Directors and former President, Heidi Green, fought for these principles to guide the State Plan of Conservation and Development so that Connecticut's future generations would inherit a more viable economy, without sacrificing our state's natural resources. Yet our state faces many of the same problems today as it did prior to this legislative enactment.

I-91 and I-95 still become parking lots during the morning and evening rush-hours. The lack of private, economic development in the state has exacerbated the pressure felt by municipalities to rely on property taxes as a form of revenue. Gas and energy prices continue to climb, unemployment persists, and our citizens, particularly the elderly, disabled, and young children, are increasingly becoming vulnerable users of the state's roadways, with Connecticut ranking 29th in the nation on the Pedestrian Danger Index according to Transportation for America's report, Dangerous by Design.

As you read this, the State Plan of C&D is being re-drafted. But at this point in time, the plan lacks enforcement powers or adequate incentives for municipalities to cooperate with one another as they struggle to attract funding from a source that perpetuates the problem.

Now is the time for 1000 Friends of Connecticut to facilitate the coalescence of a broad spectrum of stakeholders that have a common interest in growing smarter. Even more than that, now is our opportunity. President Obama's Administration embraced the potential of Sustainable Communities in 2008, and now Connecticut has a governor who understands the long-term returns associated with investing into sustainable infrastructure and environmental stewardship.

Our Smart Growth coalition has been strategically planning the most effective route to ensuring our public officials-on the state and local levels-are informed of the best practices to put Connecticut back on a sustainable path, and also have the technical expertise to do so. We encourage you to become a fan of our Facebook page and follow our blog, or check our web site frequently to learn about our upcoming events and ongoing operations.

Our efforts are futile without your continued support, so thank you for being one of the Friends that makes up 1000 Friends of Connecticut!

Sincerest Regards,
Nichole Strack, Executive Director
1000 Friends of Connecticut

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Put Connecticut Back on its Tracks

A message from 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Board of Director, Robert Orr:

Flying into Bradley a couple weeks ago, I felt like I was descending into Sherwood Forest. No state is as thickly wooded as Connecticut (which does a pretty good job of hiding our sprawl). No state has better and more abundant topsoil (70'-80' deep by some accounts) standing ready to reignite local food. No state has as extensive a rail system (yes dormant, but let's rake off the leaves) standing ready to launch multi-mode transportation. No state has as much intellectual capital standing ready to jump on the new economy embracing value over equity pursuits. No state can boast such a balance of man-made and natural beauty.

All this adds up to a state with more potential for attracting enterprising (younger) and accidental (laid off, older) entrepreneurs with better cities, towns, hamlets, and countryside than any other.

All that's needed is a makeover of codes and regulations to stop thwarting normal market forces from embracing the glory still embedded in its bones. Connecticut is the Tuscany, the Val d'Orcia of North America. We just need our Nutmeg version of Iris and Antonio Origo to get the ball rolling.

This could be Connecticut, but its Val d'Orcia with Monte Amiata, view to the west from La Foce. This landscape was barren, completely denuded down to bare rock by over grazing of sheep and poor agricultural practices. However, with much hard work, care and attention in the 1920s, the Origos succeeded in transforming it into the beautiful countryside bordering charming Tuscan towns that you see above. Nothing in the picture is accidental. Connecticut needs the same purposeful approach, political will and fire in the belly to reach the potential of the great gift we've inherited.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Smart Growth Deserves A Better Boost

Smart Growth Deserves A Better Boost

By Susan Merrow

The Hartford Courant

11:04 AM EST, March 7, 2011

From the moment the recent recession reared its head, the phrase "It's a shame to let a good crisis go to waste" has been a theme in many quarters — nowhere more than the smart-growth quarter, where advocates have urged that this time of curtailed spending should be used to rein in policies that have promoted sprawl.

The state budget is the perfect place to begin, for that is where the cost of sprawl is embodied in the huge infrastructure expenditures at all levels of government. In 2009, the General Assembly passed a law, Public Act 09-230, "To define smart growth and require smart growth provisions of state, local and regional plans of conservation and development be consistent." Now would be the perfect time to use those definitions to guide policy decisions, especially in how we spend the state's money.

So how does Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget stack up on issues of smart growth? To find out, read the full article here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Report says Connecticut Fixed it First!

Research Confirms President Obama’s SOTU Remarks: Smart Transportation Spending Creates Jobs, Grows the Economy

Report shows investing in repair and maintenance projects and public transportation can help Connecticut revitalize America’s transportation system and rebuild the economy; Connecticut ranked first.

Connecticut, February 4, 2011 – A new report released by Smart Growth America (SGA) provides Connecticut with a roadmap to pursue President Obama’s call to repair our crumbling roads and bridges and invest in public transportation to jumpstart the economy. The report, which highlights how well states created jobs using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) flexible transportation dollars, provides Governor Malloy, the Department of Transportation, and the legislature with a smart investment strategy to get more jobs from the same number of transportation dollars and help rebuild the economy effectively.

Connecticut ranked first, based on how well the state used its portion of the $26.6 billion in flexible ARRA transportation dollars to create jobs. The report was released two years after the passage of ARRA and a week after President Obama’s State of the Union Address and his clarion call to rebuild America and create jobs.

“Smart Growth America commends Connecticut for using its federal stimulus funding to maximize job creation,” Geoff Anderson, President/CEO of Smart Growth America said. “Connecticut should continue on this same path of smart, fiscally responsible transportation policies when it considers its 2011 transportation budget. If Connecticut continues to allocate the majority of its transportation dollars in its new budget to the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges, and expanding access to public transportation, the state can save money and put people back to work.”

Connecticut leaders understand that rebuilding our economy is the most significant challenge of our generation. As the President said in his address, “To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods and information…America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities and constructed the interstate highway system. The jobs created by these projects didn’t just come from laying down tracks or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp.” This report analyzes state-reported ARRA data and finds that wise spending of transportation dollars produces immediate results in terms of jobs.

The states that made the best use of funds invested in public transportation projects and maintained and repaired existing roads and bridges. The states that ranked poorly focused on building new roads and bridges.

Connecticut spent 100 percent of its ARRA transportation funds on repairing and maintaining roads and bridges; nothing on building new ones; and 9.1 percent on public transportation and non-motorized projects such as trails, bicycle projects and pedestrian projects.

"We're proud that Connecticut “fixed it first” and created jobs critical to our state's recovery. We urge even greater emphasis on mass transit funding, which has a triple benefit: it creates jobs, gets people to their jobs, and improves the quality of life for all of us," said 1000 Friends of Connecticut Chair Susan Merrow.

"We have seen a gradual shift in Connecticut toward investments in public transit where we get the biggest bang for the buck - dollar for dollar, public transportation projects create the highest percentage of jobs. These investments are good for both the economy and the environment," added Lori Brown, Executive Director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters.

SGA determined its rankings by assessing how states invested their ARRA flexible transportation dollars, as reported by the states themselves to Congress.

Historically, repair work on roads and bridges generates 16 percent more jobs per dollar than new bridge and road construction. Repair and maintenance projects spend money faster and create jobs more quickly than building new roads because they employ more kinds of workers, spend less money on land and more on wages, and spend less time on plans and permits.

Additionally, historical investments in public transportation have generated 31 percent more jobs per dollar than new construction of roads and bridges. SGA’s analysis of ARRA spending shows that even more jobs were created with public transportation spending – these projects generated 70 percent more jobs per dollar than new highway construction.

"Our new administration in Hartford and new leadership at Department Of Transportation have a chance now to build on this good news and firmly establish the connection between wise spending on transit, fixing existing infrastructure, and growing smart," Susan Merrow concluded.

For the complete report, go to

Smart Growth America is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring smart growth practices to more communities nationwide. From providing more sidewalks to ensuring more homes are built near public transit or that productive farms remain a part of our communities, smart growth helps make sure people across the nation can live in great neighborhoods. For additional information, please visit