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Elmwood – A Great Revival

Elmwood is a ray of hope. In many ways, it is ahead of the curve in its scale, desirability and economics. Our turnaround has many lessons to teach the country. Elmwood is a model of smart growth and Elmwood is a model community.

In 1997, there was a new beginning. The Town of West Hartford had sponsored a series of charettes (the first in the region) to develop ideas about what the community wanted and what changes the community wanted to see. Born of the contentious zoning battles over Home Depot and Shaw’s Supermarket, the charette sessions attracted several hundred residents and business owners to the Faxon Library Community Room. Education, imagination and hope were the basis of these sessions led by Catherine Johnson, an architect and planner from Middletown.

The results of the charettes were a number of ideas and directions for Elmwood: increase the area’s walkabilty; open up Beachland Park; maintain a diverse housing stock; improve existing properties by removing asphalt and placing green areas, and most important of all, control the traffic on New Britain Avenue. It was hoped that many of these goals would come to pass with the creation of a town ordinance that would regulate the design and placement of new streets and structures (in the heart of Elmwood).

That was the plan at least. It’s funny: things don’t always work out exactly as you’ve planned, but many times they work out anyway.