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Annual Comprehensive Financial Report due December 31st.
Planning Commission meets monthly to review applications for subdivisions, site plans and special exceptions.

Danbury in the News

July 18, 2022

News
SONIC Drive-In opens Danbury location July 21

Leeanne Griffin  | July 18, 2022Updated: July 18, 2022 4:40 p.m.

The newest SONIC Drive-In location in Connecticut will open July 21 in Danbury, directly across from Western Connecticut State University at 172 White Street.
In celebration of the opening, each guest will receive a free corn dog that day, while supplies last. 

SONIC, which has other Connecticut locations in Bristol, Manchester, Milford, New Britain, New Milford and Wallingford, has an expansive menu of burgers, sandwiches, chicken, hot dogs, snacks and ice cream. The beverage menu also offers a wide variety of flavored soft drinks, slushes, lemonades and limeades, tea and coffee options.

SONIC has been wooed by the city for a decade. When a potential deal fell through on Newtown Road in 2012, then-mayor Mark Boughton said he and residents were "very disappointed."

“This is a franchise the city has been looking to attract and it’s at a great location,”  P.J. Prunty, executive director of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce, told Hearst Connecticut in April. 

“It is a prime spot across from Western Connecticut State University on a heavily trafficked White Street.”

“We’re so excited to open this new SONIC location as we introduce our signature menu and fast and friendly service to the Danbury community,” said franchise partner Mir Sabbir Ahmed in a statement. Ahmed also owns and operates the Milford location.

The restaurant will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and offers drive-through service and walk-up counter service with dining and patio seating. Online and mobile ordering are available through the SONIC App, and select third-party partners provide delivery.

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July 10, 2022

News
Danbury approves Mercedes-Benz dealership at gateway of west side high-end auto corridor

Rob Ryser  July 10, 2022

DANBURY - City planners have approved blueprints for a $7 million Mercedes-Benz showroom and service center at the gateway of an emerging high-end auto corridor on the city’s west side.

“We have certainly discussed it at length,” said Arnold Finaldi, chairman of the city’s Planning Commission, shortly before the board approved the dealership last week. “Good luck to the applicant with your project.”

The approval means Curry Automotive can begin work to clear a 2.5-acre construction materials storage lot at Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow roads — a property city leaders have described as a gateway for a corridor of high-end automotive uses that stretches from the eastern border of the Danbury Fair mall south along the perimeter of Danbury Municipal Airport.

“I want to be there the day they knock down that concrete bunker on the site,” Finaldi said half-seriously after the approval vote on Wednesday, referring to the highly visible site that some leaders considered an eyesore.

“I had to look at that thing every morning five or six days a week for 16 years and I’m sick of it,” Finaldi continued with a good-natured smile. “So I want to be invited there. Make a note of it. Keep it off the record but I want to be invited. I want to be there.”

An attorney who has represented Curry Automotive through the last year of land use approvals agreed.

“I’ll send you a message, Arnie,” Meaghan Miles replied at Wednesday’s meeting.

Curry Automotive, which plans to move its Mercedes-Benz dealership from Federal Road on the city’s east end to the new gateway location, is the latest high-end auto business to invest in the west side.

North American Motor Car, a 50,000-square-foot custom garage and luxury vehicle storage facility that opened recently one-quarter mile south on Miry Brook Road, bills itself as the largest restoration facility of its kind in Fairfield County. It joins other high end-garages and storage facilities such as Speedsport Tuning and Collector Car Services, as well as a film director’s company that recently began producing $450,000 sports cars in the shadows of Runway 26.

North of the new Mercedes-Benz site, Danbury approved plans in March by a Nissan-Infiniti dealership to take over an empty retail building on Sugar Hollow Road, which is already home to Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen dealerships.

As much as Mercedes-Benz seemed like a good fit for the neighborhood, it had to clear handful of hurdles including zoning variances, wetland approvals, Federal Aviation Administration clearance and site plan approval.

“We don’t want cars parking all over the place except as shown on the approved plan,” said Jennifer Emminger, the city’s deputy planning director, during Wednesday’s meeting. “They need to get a location approval for the new motor vehicle dealer’s license from the Zoning Commission, so there is another step.”

Emminger is referring to plans by Curry for a 31,000-square foot-dealership with rooftop parking on the second floor and 22 service bays.
Because the dealership is expected to be a major traffic generator, adding 850 vehicle trips to the area on an average weekday and 1,600 car and truck trips on an average Saturday, Danbury’s traffic engineer asked Curry to buy and install video camera detection equipment at three nearby intersections “to improve traffic management and traffic signal operations at … intersections associated with the proposed development.”
Instead, Curry offered the city $50,000 to buy and install the equipment.
In the end, planners said their concerns about traffic were addressed.
“I just want to say job well done for making all those agreements,” Planning Commissioner Helen Hoffstaetter told Emminger at Wednesday’s meeting.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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June 21, 2022

News
Danbury War Memorial gets state-of-the-art upgrades starting with transforming lobby into a ‘museum’

Dan Nowak | June 21, 2022

DANBURY — With ongoing upgrades to the Danbury War Memorial, its lobby will be transformed into a museum that honors local history and heroes.

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The first phase of upgrades at the nonprofit recreation facility began a month ago with a recently completed renovation of the lobby. Additional upgrades are expected to be completed over the next two years.

“It’s an exciting time at the War Memorial,” said Robert Botelho, president of the Danbury War Memorial Association Board. “The upgrades will make it more relevant than it ever has been. We used funds from our golf outing and car show events for the lobby. The goal was to turn the lobby into a museum so that when people come into the building they can see the history of the War Memorial.”

The Danbury War Memorial is a living memorial to those who served in our armed forces, Botelho said. The Walk of Honor and monuments on the grounds serve as the first indication of this mission. Plaques will be added to list past directors and past presidents of the War Memorial to give the public a history of the building itself, he said.

“Inside the newly renovated front lobby are memorials to those who have served our great nation as well as supporters of the Danbury War Memorial,” Botlho said. “Murals, plaques and other tributes commemorate the sacrifice of local heroes in the main lobby. These serve as constant reminders to those who visit the War Memorial for civic events.

“When people first walk into the building, we want them to see and understand the history of the War Memorial, an iconic symbol of the city that is a vibrant and active facility,” he added.

The next upgrade will be adding two bathrooms that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Also, there are plans to expand its size of its popular fitness center over the next year, Botelho said.

In addition to serving as a fitness center, the facility is also a community center. It is used for numerous activities for all age groups. The basketball court supports the local community with numerous activities for adults and youth. It also serves the Danbury community as an emergency management center, a voting location, various community events and blood drives.

“To continue civic functions and serve as a resource to the community, maintenance of the building is of the utmost importance,” Botlho said. “Ongoing maintenance and improvements to the building come at a significant cost and are overseen by the Board of Directors.”

The State of Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act provided funding to upgrade the exterior lighting on the building. The Danbury War Memorial has been approved for a state grant of $1.4 million that will be used to replace the two boilers in the building and upgrade the electrical and HVAC systems. Central air conditioning will be added to the entire building.

Additional funding has been approved by the Community Development Block Grant program to update the two bathrooms. Beyond grants and funds from operations of the building, additional funding comes from event sponsorships such as the War Memorial Golf Tournament and the Car Show.

The last car show was held before COVID-19, and another car show fundraiser will be held Sept. 4. Botelho said the first car show raised about $50,000.

“The Danbury War Memorial was built ‘To honor the dead, to serve the living,’” Botelho said. “This two-part mission statement is paramount to the actions of the Danbury War Memorial Board of Directors as a service to those who have served in the armed forces and the Danbury community.

“It is why these state-of-the-art upgrades are important.”

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June 21, 2022

News
Target planning to open two-floor store in Danbury Fair mall

Luther Turmelle

June 21, 2022Updated: June 21, 2022 6:30 p.m.

Shoppers will have a new reason to go the Danbury Fair mall in the not-too-distant future.

Officials with Macerich, the California-based company that owns the mall, said Tuesday that discount retailer Target will open a two-level, 126,000-square-foot store in the space formerly occupied by Sears. Officials with Macerich aren’t saying when the new store will open, but Shane Kitzman, a Target spokesman, said the Danbury Fair mall location “will open in the next few years.”

The new store will be Target’s second store in the Danbury area and bring the number of stores the chain has in Connecticut to 22. The Minnesota-based retailer has a location a few miles east of the mall off Interstate 84 in Bethel that opened in 2004.

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Macerich President Ed Coppola said the mall’s “terrific merchandise mix and attractive demographics surrounding Danbury Fair make this property a great match for all that Target has to offer.”

Shay Nagarsheth, the city’s economic development director, said the new Target is “going to be a great addition to the mall and to the west side of Danbury.”

Burt Flickinger, managing director of New York City-based Strategic Resource Group, said Target’s plan to open a store in Danbury “is a strong strategic move.”

“Because it is a bigger store, it will draw from a larger radius than the typical Target,” Flickinger said. “I would expect the mall store to draw shoppers from as far away 15 miles.”

Flickinger said despite the fact that Target currently has 21 Connecticut locations “they are significantly understored in Connecticut and southern New England.”

“For Target to fully saturate Connecticut, they’d have to open twice the number of stores that they currently have,” he said.

The announcement did not say specifically what would become of Primark, the second-level store at the mall or what the exact impact of this two-floor Target might be.

The 1.2-million-square-foot mall still has one anchor store space that remains empty following the Lord & Taylor’s departure at the end of 2020. Christine Broad, a spokeswoman for Macerich, said the mall operator “is currently exploring options on the best use for the Lord and Taylor space.”

When it comes to filling the former Lord &Taylor space, Flickinger said Macerich doesn’t have many options when it comes to finding a retailer to take the full amount of space.

“BJ’s Wholesale Club might be interested in having a store there,” he said. The retailer already has a location in Brookfield, but Flickinger said heavy traffic volume in northern Fairfield County might convince BJ’s Wholesale Club officials that a Danbury store might be successful.

BJ’s opened a store in Commack, N.Y., that had once been a Macy’s location, he said.

luther.turmelle@hearstmediact.com

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June 9, 2022

News
Danbury just earmarked $20 million in federal pandemic relief; here’s where the money is going

Rob Ryser

June 9, 2022

DANBURY — The city has earmarked 60 percent of its $32 million in federal pandemic relief on bailing out losses caused by the coronavirus crisis and jumpstarting the economy with investments in local business, emergency services and Danbury attractions.

“The leaders of Danbury really pulled together and understand that this pandemic had a generational impact,” said Paul Rotello, the City Council’s Democratic majority leader. “We want to heal the city and moved past COVID.”

Rotello is referring to a $20 million package approved by the City Council this week that allocates American Rescue Plan Act money from the federal government to repair the economic damage done by the pandemic to departmental budgets and Danbury’s neediest families, and to invest in new playgrounds, public safety technology and economic development incentives.

“Our priority is not only to fill the holes that were created during the pandemic but to use the money for one-time purposes so we don’t create new holes in our budget in the future,” said Vinny DiGilio, president of the Republican-controlled City Council. “There is another $12 million (of pandemic relief money) that we are holding in reserve, so this is not a one-and-done type of thing.”

The $32 million in COVID relief that City Hall received is in addition to $36 million the Board of Education received to hire staff and support other programs.

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Specifically, the City Council allocated $12 million to compensate payroll budgets that were drained by hazard pay for first responders during the worst of the pandemic, to replenish budgets of city authorities such as the museum that were hardest hit by the lockdowns, to account for loses in the commercial tax base due to COVID, and to help charities provide for the city’s neediest families.

The council allocated another $8 million of pandemic relief money to stimulate the local economy including $2 million for parks, recreation and culture, $4 million for emergency services technology and trucks, $650,000 for city infrastructure, and $500,000 for local business incentives.

Highlights of the spending package include

$625,000 for playscape repairs, replacement and safety resurfacing at city parks and schools

$1.9 million for fire department trucks and communications equipment

$300,000 to replace spray parks equipment

$300,000 for building façade improvement incentives for landlords

$660,000 for police body cameras and tasers

$500,000 to restore the historic Richter House

$700,000 for emergency medical services vehicle, equipment and technology

Leaders noted that Danbury is bound by strict federal guidelines about how the pandemic relief money can be used, and said they were confident that it was being spent the way the emergency congressional act intended.

“The mayor and the director of finance in coordination with all the department heads and the other agencies in the city are all on the same page with this,” DiGilio said. “This is a collaborative effort.”

Mayor Dean Esposito said the city continued to keep the conversation open about helping Danbury turn the corner on the pandemic and navigate an uncertain future.

“We recognize that there are other needs that have yet to be identified,” Esposito said in April. “So ample funds remain to be allocated to ensure the best outcomes for our residents.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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June 7, 2022

News
Danbury voters approve $208M educational bond package

Rob Ryser

June 4, 2022

DANBURY — The $208 million borrowing package to meet the city’s surging enrollment passed Tuesday’s referendum.

Local leaders said they’re thrilled with the outcome.

“Today is a great day for the city of Danbury and the future of the Danbury Public Schools,” Mayor Dean Esposito said Tuesday evening, calling the results of the referendum a “win” for the entire city.

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“I am so honored by the overwhelming support that the residents have shown for our children,” he said.

Superintendent Kevin Walston echoed that sentiment, saying he’s “so happy about all of the voters who came out in support of the referendum.”

With about 7 percent voter turnout, the referendum passed with 2,641 votes in favor and 433 against the $208 million educational bond package.

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June 1, 2022

News
Danbury’s ‘long shot’ fast track to NYC now ‘more of a reality’ with hope of $2M federal grant

Rob Ryser

June 1, 2022Updated: June 1, 2022 5:25 p.m.

DANBURY — News that U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., has requested a $2 million grant to take the city’s idea for a fast track to Grand Central station to the next step energized City Hall, which considers the project a key component in the downtown’s revitalization.

“Once considered a long shot, a direct passenger rail line to New York City via the MTA Harlem line is becoming more and more of a reality because of the tremendous support seen across our city,” Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito said in a prepared statement on Wednesday.

Esposito is referring to a plan floated by former Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton to provide faster rail service from Danbury to New York City by reviving the old Maybrook line to Southeast, N.Y., where commuters could catch Metro-North’s Harlem line.

The project was last in the headlines in December, when a $1 million study found the idea was “feasible both from a physical and economic perspective,” according to a consultant who led the study.

The study also found multiple areas where the railroad crosses wetlands and is near other water resources, and “noise-sensitive land uses” such as homes in the project’s path. Also a concern is how the project could affect the existing Maybrook trail in New York, which Danbury hopes to connect to.

To address those concerns, the next step is an environmental impact study that would be funded with federal money requested by Hayes. The study would be led by Danbury with input and participation from officials over the border in nearby New York.

“This project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because it will revitalize a currently abandoned interstate railway line known as the Beacon Line by restoring commuter services to satisfy an ever-expanding need,” Hayes said of the plan. “The restoration of passenger rail service would extend the existing public transportation network and provide benefits to all communities along the corridor.”

“It is possible the restoration of service will reduce private vehicle volumes on Interstate 84, Interstate 684, and local roadways along the interstate roadway corridors,” Hayes said, adding that the plan called for the addition of two train stops in Danbury. “Lower vehicle counts could result in less vehicular congestion and emissions and would have a lasting impact on the community.”

Hayes’ request is one of 15 funding proposals in greater Danbury and Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District that go to the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by a fellow member of Connecticut’s all-Democratic congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro.

DeLauro and her committee will use requests by Hayes and other lawmakers to craft a spending bill for 2023.

Other projects in Hayes’ appropriations request include $2 million for a parking structure at the Connecticut Institute of Communities Health Center in downtown Danbury, and $2.1 million for emergency communication system upgrades for the New Fairfield Police Department.

For Danbury’s fast track idea, which could cut as much as 20 minutes off the current two-hour train ride to New York City, the environmental impact study is the next step before the design phase.

“I want to thank Congresswoman Jahana Hayes for her selection,” Esposito said. “This important next step will pave the way to improve rail transportation for the residents of Danbury.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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May 18, 2022

News
Four promoted on Danbury police force

Kendra Baker

May 18, 2022

DANBURY — Four members of the city’s police force were promoted during a ceremony at Danbury City Hall on Monday.

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Joseph LeRose

Joseph LeRose, who began his career with the Danbury Police Department in 1985, was promoted from lieutenant to captain.

During his 37 years on the force, LeRose has received numerous awards and citations, including the Exceptional Police Service Award, Medal of Bravery and Medal of Meritorious Service.

Before becoming a lieutenant in 2015, LeRose served as a sergeant for three years and a detective for six. In addition to serving as headquarters lieutenant, he is a member of the police department’s crisis negotiation team and serves as a court/private duty officer.

Mark Wochek

Mark Wochek, a 26-year member of the force, was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant.

After joining the Danbury Police Department in 1996, Wochek was promoted to sergeant in 2015 and has served as a field training officer since November 2008, as well as a member of the Honor Guard.

In addition to being a four-time recipient of the Exceptional Police Service Award, Wochek received a meritorious citation in January 2019, as well as unit citations in 2002 and 2021.

Michael Russotti

Michael Russotti, a member of the police department since December 2014, has been promoted to the rank of sergeant — three months after becoming a detective on the police force.

Not only did Russotti receive the Samuel J. Luciano Award for graduating at the top of his class at the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Academy, but he’s received several letters of appreciation over the last nearly eight years.

He’s also held numerous roles as a member of Danbury’s police department, including crisis intervention officer intermediate, part-time evidence technician, police driver intermediate, peer support officer and rifle/breach kit officer.

Jonathan Grande

Jonathan Grande, a seven-year member of the force, was promoted from police officer to detective.

Since beginning his career with the Danbury Police Department in 2015, Grande has received several award and citations — including a unit citation, the Exceptional Police Service Award, Medal of Meritorious Services and letters of commendations.

LeRose, Wochek, Russotti and Grande’s promotions were approved by the Danbury City Council during its May 3 meeting.

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May 12, 2022

News
Developer plans to raze Pier 1 Imports store near the Danbury Fair mall and replace it with a drive-thru restaurant

Rob Ryser

May 12, 2022Updated: May 13, 2022 8:17 a.m.

DANBURY — A vacant retail building last used by Pier 1 Imports bordering the Danbury Fair mall would be torn down and replaced with a smaller building to house a drive-thru restaurant and other commercial space, according to plans reviewed by a city commission this week.

“My client has agreed to buy the former Pier 1 Imports site on the corner of Backus Avenue and Sugar Hollow Road,” said Ward Mazzucco, an attorney representing the developer, during a hearing Wednesday before Danbury’s Environmental Impact Commission. “The existing building is just under 10,000 square feet, and we’re proposing to eliminate that building and replace it with one that is …just over half the size. The new building would consist of a restaurant with a drive-thru and a medical or retail unit in the remainder of the space.”
Mazzucco is referring to plans for a 1.2-acre site on the eastern border of the Danbury Fair mall that has been vacant since 2020, after Pier 1 announced hundreds of store closures.

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A representative for the developer would not say on Thursday what restaurant would come to Danbury, noting the lease had not been signed.

Where developers often try to squeeze as much square footage as they can into a given site, the blueprints for the Pier 1 site call for reducing the building footprint and returning some of the parking lot to Mother Nature.

“The proposal is to pull back some of the parking area that currently is in place to re-vegetate it with grass,” Mazzucco said. “The existing grades will be retained to minimize excavation.”

Although the site in question is in a heavily developed corridor of Danbury’s booming west side, environmental concerns are important because the Kissen Brook runs behind the property.
“In terms of wetlands impact, it should be minimal,” Mazzucco told the environmental commission. “If anything, we’ve improved the impact on wetlands by pulling the pavement area back a bit and by increasing the permeable area.”
The developer looked at refitting the existing building instead of razing it, to minimize disruption to the site.

“It was later determined that the existing condition of the building was not suitable for a modern restaurant with drive-thru and medical user, and ultimately a new building has been proposed,” the developer wrote in its application to the city.
The public hearing before the environmental commission will be continued on May 25. In addition to wetlands approval, the developer needs permission from the city’s Planning and Zoning commissions.
The plans are the latest in a series of development news for vacant free-standing buildings on the Danbury Fair mall’s periphery.
In March, city zoners approved plans by a Nissan-Infiniti dealership to take over an empty 78,000-square-foot building last used by Sports Authority and Bed, Bath and Beyond, just south on Sugar Hollow Road.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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April 18, 2022

News
State of Connecticut Labor Situation

State of Connecticut DOL

Last Updated: April 18, 2022

The Danbury LMA increased by 300 jobs.

The Danbury LMA (0.4%, 75,200) was higher by 300 jobs and the Waterbury LMA (0.3%, 65,800) contributed 200.

St of CT DOL News

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March 11, 2022

News
CT recovered nearly 44,000 jobs in 2021, but tens of thousands short of pre-COVID count, data shows

Alexander Soule

March 11, 2022Updated: March 11, 2022 6:25 p.m.

Connecticut recovered nearly 44,000 jobs in 2021, according to a newly revised average of monthly data published Friday, a significantly larger number than prior surveys suggested, but leaving the state well short of its job count two years ago as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The Connecticut Department of Labor reported Friday that businesses, nonprofits and government agencies employed nearly 1.64 million people in December, adjusted for seasonal hiring changes. Across the 12 months of 2021, payrolls averaged just over 1.61 million jobs.

Connecticut payrolls shrank by an estimated 700 jobs in January, if surveys prove accurate, even as employment swelled nationally and in New York.

Connecticut’s yearly average showed a gain of 43,650 jobs from 2020 when employers triggered mass furloughs under public health emergency orders, then began restoring some positions with support from subsidies like the Payroll Protection Program. The final count was about 11,000 jobs more than estimates drawn by DOL from surveys throughout the year. DOL believes those surveys were skewed by varying job actions during the pandemic by business respondents.

Connecticut’s yearly average in 2021 remained about 82,000 jobs short of the total two years earlier. The state saw a slight contraction in jobs in January, both the result of the end of seasonal employment as well as the COVID omicron variant, which may have prompted some employers to wait to fill jobs.

There are two main ways to measure year-over-year job creation using the surveys of a sampling of employers. The first is by using annual averages, which smooth out monthly swings and make comparisons over many years more accurate. In that method, Connecticut’s 43,650 additional jobs in 2021 was revised upward Friday from a preliminary estimate of 32,600 jobs.

Looking at the December-to-December figures, the Department of Labor’s report Friday showed Connecticut’s economy added 55,400 jobs in 2021, up from an earlier estimate of 51,200.

Either way, the state’s economy lost well over 100,000 jobs in the full year of 2020 with the pandemic collapse, even after significant job recovery in the second half of that year.

“We’ve added more jobs than what we had previously thought,” Dante Bartolomeo, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor, said Friday in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media Group. “This is a public health crisis that created an economic crisis. As omicron is receding, the underlying economy is strong.”

DOL revises its annual estimates each March based on payroll data it receives from employers, with additional revisions possible for the 2021 figures in the coming months as new information is submitted. Patrick Flaherty, who leads economic research for DOL, said the annualized number is useful for gauging long-term economic growth, but can obscure moments of time during the pandemic that have impacted hiring, most notably the successive waves of variants.

Omicron likely contributed to a slight increase in Connecticut’s unemployment rate in January to 5.3 percent, from 5.1 percent in December based on the revised benchmarks. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4 percent in January, with New York’s matching Connecticut’s at 5.3 percent.

Bartolomeo said the coronavirus surge not only impacted workers who had to quarantine, but also working parents in instances when children had to stay home from school after the resumption of classes in January.

“Being able to participate in someone’s job was directly related to the spikes we were seeing in the variants,” Bartolomeo said. “As soon as there started to be talk about omicron coming into the state, I saw it in my daily reports of how many folks were out.”

Employers face a new challenge with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the resulting U.S. oil embargo sparking a surge in fuel prices. That is intensifying existing inflationary pressures for many businesses, whether for expensive equipment or everyday supplies — with a possible impact on future hiring as existing budgets are not stretching as far as employers had assumed.

Over the past decade, Connecticut’s job total peaked in December 2018 at just over 1.7 million. The high-water mark occurred in March 2008, when Connecticut employers had 1,720,900 people on payrolls, according to DOL’s official count.

“This is a disappointing start to the year, particularly given the number of private-sector job losses, and further emphasizes how critical it is for policymakers to prioritize job growth,” Chris DiPentima, CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, said in a statement Friday following the release of the DOL report.

“Our labor shortage is a full-blown crisis — we have 110,000 job openings, yet our labor-force losses since the beginning of the pandemic represent an astonishing 10 percent of the national decline.” 

As more businesses return to normal operations, Connecticut faces other challenges beyond those of the pandemic and inflation. Most notably, more workers have retired early. And Connecticut’s high cost of living continues to be a hurdle for younger professionals and new graduates who are weighing  opportunities in Connecticut and other states.

For workers in the lowest income brackets, rent and mortgages are putting the squeeze on savings, pushing back by years any expectations for their own retirements.

“There is no discussion of the quality of jobs,” Fred Carstensen, an economist at the University of Connecticut, said in an email. “[Connecticut] gained low-skill, low-wage jobs in tourism, hospitality, logistics and elder care, all of which pay — if working full time — less than $40,000 annually.”

As Connecticut’s population has aged, hospitals and clinics have added staff to handle new services, but the pandemic taxed their capabilities. As of Friday, Yale New Haven Health listed nearly 2,500 open jobs, the highest of any Connecticut employer with postings on the Indeed jobs board.

“The health care sector overall is still below where it was before the pandemic in terms of total employment,” Flaherty said. “Some of that is because there are openings the health care industry would like to fill that they haven’t been able to find people.”

Dan Haar contributed to this report.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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March 8, 2022

News
Danbury is listed among the top 20 Safest Cities in Connecticut for 2022

By Cathy Habas

Staff Writer, Safety & Security

Danbury—the most populous city in the top 20—was one of just 5 of Connecticut’s safest cities that saw a decrease in property crime rates year over year. The other 4 were Groton, MiddletownBristol, and Farmington.

 #13

Danbury

  • Population: 85,080

  • Median Income: $73,297

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February 28, 2022

News
Construction supplier set to occupy vacant Danbury warehouse

Construction supplier set to occupy vacant Danbury warehouse

Rob Ryser | Feb. 28, 2022

DANBURY — A construction equipment and materials supplier is set to take over a vacant warehouse and storefront in an industrial stretch on Danbury’s west side.

An attorney for Southington-based Superior Products Distributors said it was fitting for a full-service construction company to occupy the former Ehrbar warehouse on Kenosia Avenue, as the building boom on Danbury’s west side continues.

 A 20,000-square-foot warehouse and storefront on Danbury’s west side once occupied by Ehrbar Construction. A Southington construction equipment and materials supplier could get permission from Danbury’s Planning Commission in early March to occupy the 4-acre site.

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 “Given the type of business that they are in and what is going on in Danbury, which leads the state in construction … this is a win-win to have somebody occupy this building again,” said Neil Marcus during a public hearing conducted by the city’s Planning Commission last week. “(Superior) goes one step beyond where Ehrbar was — not only do they rent the equipment, but they also provide some of the basic building materials that you use with the equipment.”

Marcus was describing plans by the family-owned Superior Products Distributors to open a fifth sales and service center in a 20,000-square-foot warehouse and store west of Danbury Fair mall.

Superior, which in addition to its Southington headquarters has locations in Norwich, Bridgeport and East Hartford, could get approval from the city Planning Commission on Wednesday.

“I don’t have any objection to it,” said Arnold Finaldi, the Planning Commission chairman, at last week’s public hearing. “I remember when (Ehrbar) had those gigantic cranes, hoists, and manlifts in front there. This seems to be less intrusive than that use.”

Superior plans to operate a construction and worksite supply service that includes everything from renting bulldozers and excavators to selling road and bridge supplies. The company would use some of the 4-acre site for the outdoor storage of materials such as sewer drains and storm pipe, rigid foam insulation, and conduit storm water chambers.

“Would there be dividers out there to segregate the different type of materials?” asked Robert Chiocchio, a Planning Commission member

“If you’re thinking of sand and gravel, you might have dividers, but this is not that kind of material,” said Michael Mazzucco, the company’s consultant.

“Is there anything oversized in the equipment inventory that we need to worry about?” asked Planning Commission member Helen Hoffstaetter.

“This is smaller construction equipment and not anything extremely large,” Mazzucco replied.

The site in question, north of Danbury Municipal Airport, is in an industrial stretch that includes Cartus Corp. and Hologic Inc.

“As long as the frontage remains uncluttered, I don’t really see an issue with it,” said City Council member Paul Rotello.

Superior plans to invest about $100,000 in renovations, mostly to the interior, according to blueprints. The company will also install a gate and a chain-link fence around the storage yard.

“For a number of years this property has been vacant until the property was recently purchased by the applicant’s affiliate,” the consultant Mazzucco said. “The site is not really changing that much. The changes are minor in nature.”

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January 23, 2022

News
From school construction to new apartments, here are Danbury-area projects to watch out for in 2022

Julia Perkins | Jan. 23, 2022

From school construction to new apartments, here are Danbury-area projects to watch out for in 2022

An upgraded library, school construction and additional residential housing are coming to the Danbury area in 2022.

Several communities are working on renovating or building schools due to enrollment increases or outdated facilities. There could even be an Amazon grocery store coming to one town. A few towns are improving their downtown areas.

Here are some of the Danbury area’s 10 biggest projects to watch out for in 2022.

School projects

Danbury, Brookfield and New Fairfield are working on school projects this year.

The addition to Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School in Danbury should open this fall. The seven additional classrooms were needed due to rising school enrollment, but the district may consider other projects this year.

Danbury is planning for its $99 million career academy, which will serve 1,400 middle and high school students and is slated to open in fall 2024. Alongside the academy, the school district looks to revise its curriculum to emphasize personalized and experiential learning.

Brookfield and New Fairfield are constructing new schools, too.

New Fairfield’s $113 million school projects remain on time and on budget.

The $29.2 million expansion to an elementary school — creating the Consolidated Early Learning Academy — is expected to be finished by the start of the 2022-23 school year. The $84.2 million, 143,000 square-foot new high school is slated to open the following year.

In Brookfield, the new, $78.1 million Candlewood Lake Elementary School has faced construction delays, pushing the opening date from mid-way through next academic year to the start of 2023-24. The school will serve pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, allowing the outdated Center Elementary School to close and Huckleberry Hill Elementary School to be demolished. Fifth-graders at Whisconier Middle School will move into the new building.

Downtown improvements

Brookfield, Danbury and Ridgefield in the midst of projects to improve their downtowns.

Danbury finished the first phase of its roughly $12 million streetscape project at the end of 2021 and is preparing for phase two this year. Officials hope construction could start on the second phase and/or a river walk in 2022, but further approvals and work is needed.

The city hopes to spark downtown development and make the area more pedestrian friendly.

Ridgefield is working on a $4 million project to improve traffic flow on Main Street. The second phase should bring ground in the spring, following the completion of the first phase at the end of 2021. Work includes milling, paving and re-striping Main Street between Governor and Prospect. Landscaping is slated to begin September 2022.

Brookfield’s streetscape project in its town center includes at least six phases. Construction could start this year on phase three, which would bring pedestrian sidewalks along a 700 to 800 foot stretch between Federal Road and Old Route 7. Planning for other phases continues this year, too.

An Amazon grocery store?

A few miles from Brookfield’s streetscape project, a “new concept” grocery store is expected to open this year.

The store at the Candlewood Plaza Shopping Center is rumored to be an Amazon Fresh grocery store, although the officials and company haven’t confirmed.

However, the architectural renderings from the Zoning Commission bear a resemblance to existing Amazon Fresh stores. The leasing director for the Candlewood Plaza Shopping Center has said at a Zoning Commission meeting that the store is owned by a technology company.

Construction costs are projected at $1.2 million. The store was originally supposed to open in December, but was delayed.

A second grocery store, a Food Emporium, is being built, too. Brookfield has only one grocery store, a ShopRite on Federal Road.

Danbury bank

One project seen as key to Danbury’s downtown development is the $20 million, four-story bank office proposed for the corner of Main and West Streets.

The 35,000-square-foot building would provide offices for Savings Bank of Danbury and has been called the “centerpiece” of downtown.

Danbury City Council is reviewing plans for the bank to purchase the former Tuxedo Junction club, which the city bought in 2017. The infamous nightclub would be demolished so the bank office could have access to an upgraded power source.

The council could decide as early as February to sell the building. Construction could start in the spring and be completed by the end of 2023.

New apartments in downtown Danbury

Construction is continuing on another development that officials hope will breathe life into downtown.

Developers are constructing 149 apartments at the former News-Times office building on Main Street. These will be the first new apartments in downtown Danbury since the since the 2016 completion of the 374-unit Kennedy Flats complex across the street.

The building will be connected by a bridge to the 115-apartment Brookfield Commons on Crosby Street. The apartments are owned by the same developer.

It’s unclear when the apartments will be completed, but at one point they had been slated to open at the end of 2021 holiday season.

‘Lifestyle center’ development

Danbury will review plans this year to transform a vacant 32-acre property on the west side into an 11-building development with apartments, offices, shops and continuing care beds.

It’s part of the construction boom on Danbury’s west side and is the largest development of its kind in the city.

Westconn Park LLC Development calls the complex a “lifestyle center” and says it will offer 200 apartments, entertainment and retail on Mill Plain Road.

The proposal includes 200,000 square feet of housing units, 80,000 square feet for an assisted living facility, and 50,000 square feet for a corporate building, three pad sites and mixed-use retail. Medical offices, corporate training facilities and retail would fill the 100,000-plus additional square footage, along with a 3.4 acre recreational area, clubhouse, pool and tennis courts.

Griffin Living would operate the 90-bed continuing care facility.

The Summit

Perhaps the most ambitious project in Danbury is the revitalization of the former Matrix Corporation Center, a 1.2 million- square- foot building that sat mostly vacant on the west side for decades.

Developers of the Summit @ Danbury are creating a “city within a city” with commercial space, housing and amenities like a restaurant, barber shop, gym and putting green. They’ve teased they will announce early in 2022 that a couple national companies will follow Nuvance Health by moving into the building.

Clancy Moving Systems plans to build a 190,000-square-foot warehouse and associated buildings on 29 acres next to the Summit.

But the plans to build a $99 million middle and high school within the Summit could be the most critical for the growing city and school district. Danbury and developers are negotiating for the city to purchase three pods needed for the career academy.

Developers will start construction on a minimum of 180 apartments, pending approval from the Zoning Commission and the negotiations with the city.

Health care facilities in Danbury

Two health care facilities are coming to Danbury’s west side.

The state is reviewing plans for what could be Connecticut’s first proton therapy center on Wooster Heights Road. Danbury approved the $80 million Danbury Proton project last year. The center could treat 338 patients a year with a non-invasive radiation technique.

The state’s decision has been delayed due to combination of staffing, workload and coronavirus issues, according to Danbury Proton’s mid-January newsletter.

Meanwhile, a $36 million rehabilitation hospital will be built on a 13-acre site within the residential development known as The Reserve.

Encompass Health, an Alabama-based company with about 140 rehabilitation hospitals across the country, would run the facility.

The state closed the hearing on Encompass Health’s application and is drafting a decision.

New Milford library project

The $8.5 million renovations to New Milford Public Library were meant to wrap up in the third week of January, but construction delays have pushed the opening to the end of June.

The library hasn’t fully reopened since March 2020 due to COVID-19 and the construction. Instead, lobby service and online or off-site programs are available.

The library was last renovated with an expansion in 1979, and the town rejected two prior plans to upgrade the building before approving $6.5 million for this project in 2018. The Board of Trustees is paying $1 million, and the State of Connecticut Library is paying $1 million.

Once the renovation is complete, the library will have a new second floor and updated amenities, such as a makerspace, designated teen space, and meeting, reading, study and children’s story rooms.

The project adds 6,500 square feet to the existing library, bringing the new total to 22,000 square feet. Construction started in June 2020.

Sandy Hook memorial

This December will mark 10 years since 20 first graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Over the 10 years, Newtown has grappled with how to honor the 26 victims, parsing through 16 sites and 190 designs before agreeing last year to approve funding for a memorial in a 5-acre forest. The memorial includes a walk through nature to a reflection pool, with a “sacred sycamore” growing in the center.

The state is covering 70 percent of the $3.7 million cost.

The memorial should be completed by the 10th anniversary of the tragedy on Dec. 14.

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January 20, 2022

News
CA pharmaceutical company now officially calls Danbury home

Alexander Soule | Jan. 19, 2022Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 4:30 p.m.

CA pharmaceutical company now officially calls Danbury home

MannKind, Connecticut’s second-largest pharmaceutical firm, now officially calls Danbury home.  Alexander Soule / Hearst Connecticut Media

DANBURY — On the heels of heralded headquarters moves from New York to Stamford, Connecticut has another transplant — this time in Danbury, though municipal officials are already familiar with the corporation that now calls the city home.

MannKind is now designating Danbury as principal executive office in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, with the company having long operated an insulin packaging plant there.

Last week, CEO Michael Castagna confirmed the company now regards Danbury as its headquarters during a virtual conference sponsored by investment bank H.C. Wainwright.

A spokesperson said Wednesday the company made the decision considering a major expansion under way at its Danbury plant and the facility’s “increasing strategic importance” to the company. The company did not provide immediate comment on whether executives will be moving cross-country to Danbury.

Inventor and entrepreneur Alfred Mann founded MannKind in the Los Angeles area, and stepped down as CEO in 2015, a year before his death at age 90. MannKind’s office is in Westlake Village at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The company’s Danbury campus on Casper Street is tucked into a neighborhood with a tight mix of residences and industrial businesses, and a view of Wooster Mountain in the distance. MannKind acquired its Danbury plant in 2001, 10 years after Mann launched the company to produce inhalers that deliver drugs to treat diabetes and other ailments.

In September, MannKind sold its Danbury facility in a $102 million transaction while keeping its operations in place via a lease-back arrangement.

Under Castagna, MannKind is focusing both on endocrine diseases like diabetes as well as what it calls “orphan lung” disorders.

With physicians having issued more than 125,000 prescriptions for the diabetes treatment Afrezza between 2015 and 2020, MannKind is now hoping to win Food & Drug Administration approval for an “indication expansion” of Afrezza into the pediatrics market.

The company is also ramping up production in Danbury of Tyvaso DPI to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in hopes of gaining FDA approval, under a licensing deal with United Therapeutics.

“We’ve never been in a stronger position,” Castagna said during last week’s H.C. Wainwright conference. “What we expect in the next half of the decade of the 2020s is to start launching one new indication of one product a year.”

On the Ridgefield-Danbury line, Boehringer Ingelheim is developing COPD treatments as well. The company is the second-largest pharmaceutical employer in Connecticut after Pfizer in Groton.

FuelCell Energy and Nuvance Health are the closest major headquarters offices to MannKind’s facility flanking both sides of Casper Street along the Still River. The city’s list of corporate employers include the industrial gas manufacturer Linde, the furnishings retailer Ethan Allen Interiors, and IQVIA.

One of the life sciences industry’s larger employers managing clinical trials and analyzing data, IQVIA dropped Danbury as a dual headquarters address from SEC filings in the spring of 2021, in favor of Research Triangle Park, N.C.

An IQVIA spokesperson indicated the decision was based on the larger employee population in North Carolina, with the company maintaining a corporate office at Lee Farm Corporate Park on Wooster Heights Road.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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January 11, 2022

News
Plans unveiled to transform construction yard at Danbury Municipal Airport into Mercedes-Benz dealership

Rob Ryser | Jan. 11, 2022Updated: Jan. 11, 2022 10:30 p.m.

DANBURY — Plans by a tri-state dealership to build a Mercedes-Benz sales and service facility near Danbury Municipal Airport would not only convert a construction storage yard into retail but contribute to the area’s emerging image as a high-end auto niche.

The construction yard, sandwiched between the Danbury airport and Route 7, would be transformed by Curry Automotive into a service center and showroom with parking for 85 vehicles on the second-story roof.

Situated at the northwest corner of Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow roads, it is the latest in a series of high-end, auto-related developments on the city’s booming west side.

The industrial stretch of Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow roads that hugs the eastern border of the airport is already home to Porsche and Audi dealerships, and high-end auto garages and storage facilities such as Speedsport Tuning and Collector Car Services.

A company called Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus recently began making $400,000 sports cars in the shadows of Runway 26, and there is interest in converting the former Sports Authority building into an auto dealership, according to City Hall.

Curry’s Mercedes-Benz dealership would be at the gateway of the high-end corridor — a 2.5-acre site that could be seen from Route 7 and approaching traffic from Wooster Heights Road.

But before shovels can go into the ground, Curry will need permission to build near the environmentally sensitive Kissen Brook to the northwest. A hearing before Danbury’s Environmental Impact Commission is planned for Wednesday.

Consultants for Curry, which operates 11 dealerships in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts, said proposed work in the northwest corner of the property near Kissen Brook will have “no adverse impact on the offsite wetlands” because “no direct discharges to wetlands are proposed.”

“In fact, the proposed site landscaping and updated drainage and stormwater improvements are anticipated to have a positive impact on the natural environment and represent a significant improvement over the use of the property to store raw construction materials,” the consultants for Curry said in an application to Danbury’s wetlands board.

Consultants are referring to plans by Curry to demolish the concrete building and shed on the property and build a retaining wall at the northwest corner of the site that would be filled with dirt to raise the grade for a new parking lot.

Construction involving buildings and parking lots are always a concern near environmentally sensitive wetlands, which provide natural flood protection by slowing storm water runoff and draining it.

“There will also be a catch basin in the corner (near Kissen Brook) to collect storm runoff and discharge the flows to onsite underground detention system,” the Curry consultants said in the application.

Wednesday’s hearing before the Environmental Impact Commission will not deal with the entire scope of Curry’s plans for a showroom with parking for 230 vehicles — such as the effect on neighborhood traffic — but only those aspects of construction near the wetlands that require special permission.

In addition to wetlands approval from the EIC, Curry needs a special exception approval from the Planning Commission, a permit from the Zoning Commission, and approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. The project has already received a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

In 2020, Danbury amended zoning regulations to permit auto and truck sales and rentals in the light industrial zone, subject to a special exception.

“The proposed development includes the introduction of a comprehensive drainage system , including new catch basins … drainage swales, water quality structures and an underground storm water detention area,” Curry’s consultants said. “Peak runoff will be decreased by this system … thereby minimizing impacts to existing watercourses, storm drainage systems, and properties downgradient from the property.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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January 7, 2022

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Former Danbury ambulance site set to house used car dealership

Rob Ryser  | Jan. 7, 2022Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 7:03 p.m.

DANBURY — A 90-year-old company that bills itself as the largest used car dealer in Connecticut has won approval to convert four properties that once housed Danbury Ambulance into a new office, showroom and display lot.

The company, which calls its new location near Interstate 84’s Exit 6 Blasius of Danbury, needed special approval from the city’s Planning Commission because part of its property is in the Padanaram Brook flood plain.

“The engineering department has looked at it, and they’ve signed off on it,” said Jennifer Emminger, the city’s deputy planning director, at a meeting this week. “They reviewed the retention basin and the stormwater drainage system, and all their comments have been satisfied.”

Emminger was referring to a plan by Blasius to demolish two of the four buildings at 14-16 Walnut St. — one of four lots that comprise the combined property — and to renovate the other two buildings into a garage and a showroom with offices.

The four properties, which are in a commercial zone, are on the northern bank of I-84, a half-block from Dunkin’.

“This (site) used to be the old Danbury Ambulance, which has been vacant since just before COVID (when) Danbury Ambulance moved into the hospital,” Emminger said during a Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday. “This site has been predominantly vacant.”

In its place Blasius proposes a renovated 2,500-square-foot garage, a renovated 3,800-square-foot showroom and office building, and an open area between the buildings for circulation and customer parking. The used car inventory lot would be to the east of the buildings, ending at Oakland Avenue.

Work in and near the floodplain includes “improvements to the existing parking area, construction of a new parking lot, associated grading, landscaping, storm drainage improvements, and the installation of curbing and sidewalks along Walnut Street and Oakland Avenue.”

The work in the flood plain is “minor” and in compliance with the city’s zoning regulations, the city determined.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the dealership’s flood plain permit.

There was no immediate word on Thursday about when the dealership would begin work, except a pop-up window on its website saying, “We are not open for business yet. Vehicles on this site are for testing purposes only. We will be open soon … promise.”

Blasius has dealerships in Stratford, Torrington, Waterbury, Middletown, and Holliston, Mass.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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December 7, 2021

News
Danbury School System Looks to Fill Over 100 Positions, Boasts Diversity

Bill Trotta | Published: December 7, 2021

Danbury School System Looks to Fill Over 100 Positions, Boasts Diversity   

If the pandemic has set you back in your career, or if you're simply searching for a new challenge, the Danbury Public Schools are hiring for well over 100 positions.

How are your math skills? Or maybe you could see yourself on the sidelines coaching JV Baseball or Volleyball? Or you may be one of those that have mad tech skills. There's even an open position for Chief Strategy and Operations Officer. If any of these sound like you, the Danbury Public Schools may be looking for you.

Even though the school year is almost halfway through, there are still opportunities to get on board and become part of the Danbury Public School system.

They are looking for full, part-time and seasonal employees, and have a number of jobs that are available immediately.

While celebrating the fact that the Danbury Public School System prides itself on the diversity of the 75 different ethnicities living, working, and going to school in the Hat City, the human resources department explains why they feel that Danbury Schools are an amazing place to work.

"The crown jewel of Connecticut lies in northern Fairfield County, right over the New York border," says a representative of the DPS. "Danbury incorporates the virtues of both an urban center, together with small town charm. Our city is situated at the heart of the Housatonic Valley Region. Danbury is convenient to major interstates that will take you from Maine to Florida for scenic, as well as fun filled times."

As of this writing, Danbury is looking for teachers at the High School level in English, Business, Math, Technology Education, and plenty more.

Elementary School teachers are wanted for Park Ave, Morris Street, Hayestown School, Ellsworth Ave. and others.

There are also job openings in the Athletic Department for an assistant Football Coach, JV Baseball, Head Coaches for Wrestling, Boys Soccer, Girls Lacrosse, and Girls Swimming. On the office side, they are looking for office clerks, and bookkeepers. Heck, you could even be a part of the music department as a long term substitute

Check the Danbury Public Schools site for a full list of all available positions.

Read More: Danbury School System Looks to Fill Over 100 Positions | https://danburycountry.com/danbury-schools-now-hiring-for-multiple-positions/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

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November 30, 2021

News
BUSINESS An industrial stretch near Danbury Airport is taking off as a ‘mecca for high-end autos’

Rob Ryser | Nov. 30, 2021

BUSINESS

An industrial stretch near Danbury Airport is taking off as a ‘mecca for high-end autos’

DANBURY - An industrial stretch that hugs the southern perimeter of Danbury Airport is becoming a niche for the high-end automotive market on the city’s booming west side.

From a 50,000-square-foot storage and restoration center for luxury cars expected to be the largest in Fairfield County when it opens in the spring, to a film director’s company that recently began producing $400,000 sports cars in the shadows of Runway 26, the conversion of Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow roads into a high-end auto corridor is seen by leaders as the kind of economic development Danbury welcomes.

“Call it expanding or exploding or whatever adjective you want to use, but there’s tremendous interest in commercial development on the west side,” said Paul Rotello, the City Council’s Democratic Majority Leader. “It’s great for business.”

The latest evidence of the emerging high-end auto niche on the eastern and southern borders of Danbury Airport came in the summer, when a high-end auto dealer won zoning approvals to build a Mercedes-Benz dealership at the corner of Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow roads. The corridor is already home to Porsche and Audi dealerships, as well as high-end auto garages and storage facilities such as Speedsport Tuning and Collector Car Services.

“That end of Danbury has more high-end cars stored than you can imagine,” said Neil Marcus, a land use attorney who has represented developers in the corridor. “It has become a mecca for high end autos - for automotive storage and assembly and sales and restoration.”

Meanwhile, other automotive dealers are kicking the corridor’s tires. At least one dealer is drawing up blueprints for the former Sports Authority building on Sugar Hollow Road, said Roger Palanzo, Danbury’s economic development director, during a meeting earlier this month.

It remains to be seen whether the dealer with plans for the corner of Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow roads will win approvals from Danbury’s Environmental Impact Commission and Planning Commission, along with approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

As of Monday, Curry had not submitted blueprints to the city’s Planning Department.

Curry Automotive plans to “redevelop a highly visible site to a high standard with new Mercedes-Benz sales and service center,” according to the dealer’s attorney, Meaghan Miles.

Part of the proposal that would certainly make the dealership visible calls for 87 spots for “rooftop inventory parking and a second-floor vehicle display.”

The idea, according to Curry Automotive, is to conserve the amount of environmentally sensitive land near the Kissen Brook that needs to be paved for parking by using the roof surface. The applicant’s attorney Miles called it “a creative solution to parking and storage.”

Plans call for clearing the concrete building, the storage container, and the trailers on the 2.5-acre site, which is used to park construction equipment and stockpile soil and gravel.

Rotello said he was impressed up to a point.

“They were all excited about cleaning up a corner that’s a gateway to Danbury but then they showed us the renderings with the parking on the roof,” Rotello said. “Cars on the roof. I guess this is how we roll in Danbury now.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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November 28, 2021

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Expert: Danbury’s economic recovery from COVID ‘seems to be in full swing.’ Here’s why.

Rob Ryser | Nov. 28, 2021

Danbury’s economic recovery from COVID ‘seems to be in full swing.’ Here’s why.

DANBURY — The city’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis is underway and trending in the right direction, an expert said, thanks to relatively low unemployment and a strong local job market fueled by a booming health care industry.

“Even during the challenging economic recession back in the 2008-to-2010 range and the current 2020 pandemic, Danbury’s unemployment was lower than both Fairfield County and the state - and (unemployment) has actually come down substantially since the high point of the pandemic,” said Eric Halvorsen, an economic consultant, during a task force meeting of Danbury leaders who are writing a master plan for the next decade. “The recovery seems to be in full swing in Danbury, which is great news.”

The latest jobless data put Danbury’s unemployment at 4.4 percent in September, compared to 5.3 percent in Fairfield County as a whole, and 5.4 percent statewide. The 1,960 people still out of work in Danbury is significantly down from the 3,000 who were jobless at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, the data shows.

Danbury still has progress to make to get down to its pre-pandemic jobless number of 3.2 percent.

To be sure, the coronavirus crisis had a crushing effect on the Danbury economy - costing 790 local jobs in the accommodations and food service industry, 680 local jobs in the retail industry, and 370 local manufacturing jobs, according to the data.

The anomaly was in Danbury’s thriving health care industry, which from 2019 to 2021 added 385 jobs. Led by Danbury Hospital and its parent organization Nuvance Health, the city’s health industry employs 8,500 people, or 23 percent of all Danbury jobs.

Other important employment sectors in Danbury are retail, which accounts for 14 percent of all Danbury jobs; government work, which accounts for 13 percent of Danbury jobs; manufacturing, which accounts for 8 percent; professional, scientific and technical, which accounts for 6 percent; accommodations and food services, which accounts for 6 percent; and construction, which accounts for 5 percent.

“Some of these jobs are expected to come back, and there is a lot of economic development activity in the city — not just in healthcare, but also for some of these manufacturers, which is really exciting to see,” Halvorsen told the master plan task force at a meeting last week. “Danbury’s health care industry is a clear leader within Fairfield County.”

One of the keys to Danbury’s strong job market is that Danbury is an “employment destination,” where 6,000 more people come to the city to work on an average day than those who leave to work out of town.

“Danbury is also very unique in that about 33 percent of Danbury’s working residents remain in the city for their jobs,” Halvorsen said. “From my perspective, working in other communities, that is a really high percentage.”

The result is a “positive inflow of workers” who not only support Danbury’s employers but also create “a strong daytime population that ends up spending money at local establishments such as retail, service providers and restaurants.” Halvorsen said.

Moreover, those who do work outside Danbury tend to have short commutes, either within Fairfield County or no further than New Haven County or Westchester County, N.Y.

“The strength of Danbury’s economy and the diversity of industries here provide a lot of different opportunities for residents to both live and work within relative close proximity to each other,” Halvorsen said. “We know that this helps cut down on commuting costs, time spent away from family, and also fewer vehicle emissions, so it’s good for the environment.”

Halvorsen said the data should help city leaders set economic development priorities for the next decade.

“If an industry like health care is both specialized and growing (as it is in Danbury) this could indicate a real competitive advantage and maybe suggest to the city that this is a sector that they might want to invest more time and energy into,” he said.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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November 28, 2021

News
Expert: Danbury’s economic recovery from COVID ‘seems to be in full swing.’ Here’s why.

Rob Ryser | Nov. 28, 2021

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DANBURY — The city’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis is underway and trending in the right direction, an expert said, thanks to relatively low unemployment and a strong local job market fueled by a booming health care industry.

“Even during the challenging economic recession back in the 2008-to-2010 range and the current 2020 pandemic, Danbury’s unemployment was lower than both Fairfield County and the state - and (unemployment) has actually come down substantially since the high point of the pandemic,” said Eric Halvorsen, an economic consultant, during a task force meeting of Danbury leaders who are writing a master plan for the next decade. “The recovery seems to be in full swing in Danbury, which is great news.”

The latest jobless data put Danbury’s unemployment at 4.4 percent in September, compared to 5.3 percent in Fairfield County as a whole, and 5.4 percent statewide. The 1,960 people still out of work in Danbury is significantly down from the 3,000 who were jobless at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, the data shows.

Danbury still has progress to make to get down to its pre-pandemic jobless number of 3.2 percent.

To be sure, the coronavirus crisis had a crushing effect on the Danbury economy - costing 790 local jobs in the accommodations and food service industry, 680 local jobs in the retail industry, and 370 local manufacturing jobs, according to the data.

The anomaly was in Danbury’s thriving health care industry, which from 2019 to 2021 added 385 jobs. Led by Danbury Hospital and its parent organization Nuvance Health, the city’s health industry employs 8,500 people, or 23 percent of all Danbury jobs.

Other important employment sectors in Danbury are retail, which accounts for 14 percent of all Danbury jobs; government work, which accounts for 13 percent of Danbury jobs; manufacturing, which accounts for 8 percent; professional, scientific and technical, which accounts for 6 percent; accommodations and food services, which accounts for 6 percent; and construction, which accounts for 5 percent.

“Some of these jobs are expected to come back, and there is a lot of economic development activity in the city — not just in healthcare, but also for some of these manufacturers, which is really exciting to see,” Halvorsen told the master plan task force at a meeting last week. “Danbury’s health care industry is a clear leader within Fairfield County.”

One of the keys to Danbury’s strong job market is that Danbury is an “employment destination,” where 6,000 more people come to the city to work on an average day than those who leave to work out of town.

“Danbury is also very unique in that about 33 percent of Danbury’s working residents remain in the city for their jobs,” Halvorsen said. “From my perspective, working in other communities, that is a really high percentage.”

The result is a “positive inflow of workers” who not only support Danbury’s employers but also create “a strong daytime population that ends up spending money at local establishments such as retail, service providers and restaurants.” Halvorsen said.

Moreover, those who do work outside Danbury tend to have short commutes, either within Fairfield County or no further than New Haven County or Westchester County, N.Y.

“The strength of Danbury’s economy and the diversity of industries here provide a lot of different opportunities for residents to both live and work within relative close proximity to each other,” Halvorsen said. “We know that this helps cut down on commuting costs, time spent away from family, and also fewer vehicle emissions, so it’s good for the environment.”

Halvorsen said the data should help city leaders set economic development priorities for the next decade.

“If an industry like health care is both specialized and growing (as it is in Danbury) this could indicate a real competitive advantage and maybe suggest to the city that this is a sector that they might want to invest more time and energy into,” he said.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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November 27, 2021

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Danbury leaders float a new train station on the west side with a reopened Maybrook line

Rob Ryser | Nov. 27, 2021

Danbury leaders float a new train station on the west side with a reopened Maybrook line

DANBURY - An ambitious idea to reopen the unused Maybrook rail line to shorten the commute to New York could result in a second train station on the city’s booming west side, leaders suggested.

“(The Maybrook line) is a 14-mile stretch which happens to travel right through the west side of Danbury, not far from the mall, not far from the Summit property - and near hundreds of thousands of square feet of new development, and hundreds of new homes, and a significant investment in the western part of the city,” said Francisco Gomes, a consultant working with a task force of Danbury leaders to write a new master plan for the next decade. “Has there been much discussion where a station would be located in Danbury if there would be more than one station?”

“Exit 2 would be a stop,” answered Roger Palanzo, the city’s economic development director, referring to the Interstate 84 exit. “The downtown Danbury station would then become a hub for busses, cabs and Ubers, and you would have a (train) stop at Exit 2 in the area where you are seeing all the growth that has been mentioned.”

How likely a west side train station and a revitalized Maybrook commuter line are could become clearer as soon as early December, when Putnam County leaders across the border in New York plan to announce results of a $1 million feasibility study about the so-called fast track, which was funded in large part by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council.

“In addition to shortening the commuting time, the (increased) frequency of the trains heading into the city is just as important as the 20-minute-shorter commute,” said Sharon Calitro, Danbury’s planning director, during a master plan task force meeting last week.

The idea to create a fast track to New York, which has the backing of Metro-North President Cathy Rinaldi and state DOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti, came up during the task force’s discussion about economic development in Danbury, which has reduced the city’s commercial vacancy rate from 40 percent during the coronavirus crisis to 10 percent.

“There has been a lot of activity in Danbury over the last several years and COVID-19 has actually not slowed down Danbury much at all with respect to economic development,” said the consultant Gomes, a manager at FHI Studio. “In fact, quite the opposite.”

Among the city’s economic development highlights, Gomes noted Nuvance Health’s 12-year lease of 220,000-square-feet at The Summit, an approved $36 million Encompass Health rehabilitation hospital at The Reserve, Parker Medical leasing 88,000-square feet for manufacturing power systems and medical industry components, and an approved $80 million Danbury Proton cancer treatment facility on Wooster Heights Road.

“There clearly is a tremendous amount of interest - it’s mind-boggling, and it’s not just happening in the 6th Ward; it’s actually happening all over the place,” said Paul Rotello, a City Council member and the Democratic Minority Leader. “They say you should prefer to manage a growing city rather than a shrinking one, but Danbury is not really growing. It’s exploding.”

An east-west track between Danbury and Metro-North’s Harlem line in Southeast, N.Y., could be an engine for economic development, Gomes said, in part because it would “provide a reverse commute into Danbury from New York state.”

The fast track to New York was in the headlines earlier this month when U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal visited Danbury to suggest some of the $5 billion Connecticut will receive from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden could be used to reopen the Maybrook line.

At the task force meeting last week, Gomes said the Maybrook line could also provide the momentum to get a $27 million plan from 2019 off the ground to transform the Danbury train station in a multi-modal transit center.

“The announcement of the federal infrastructure bill passage is very exciting because it is promising for actually funding the development of this (Maybrook) line,” Gomes said. “It’s not only the connection to New York but what it does to provide transit access to the west side of the city and what could that mean for the mall and the Summit and everything that in that part of the city.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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November 22, 2021

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Lawmakers want CT to electrify Danbury rail line, expand service to Brookfield and New Milford

Rob Ryser | Nov. 22, 2021

Lawmakers want CT to electrify Danbury rail line, expand service to Brookfield and New Milford

DANBURY - A group of lawmakers is calling on Connecticut to earmark newly awarded transportation money from Washington to electrify the rail connection between here and South Norwalk, and to expand passenger train service on the Danbury line to Brookfield and New Milford.

“By investing in rail service, we can reduce vehicular congestion off Route 7, enhance economic development, and limit our carbon footprint,” reads a letter to Connecticut’s transportation czar from 18 state lawmakers, led by Reps. Raghib Allie-Brennan, a Democrat representing Bethel, Danbury, Redding and Newtown, and Bill Buckbee, a Republican from New Milford. “These improvements have been extensively studied over the past decade and have been shown to reduce travel time and increase ridership.”

The hope is to secure funding for the two rail projects out of the $5 billion coming to Connecticut’s Department of Transportation from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package signed last week by President Joe Biden.

“The vision for improving the state’s infrastructure must include electrification and extension of the Danbury branch of Metro-North Railroad,” Allie-Brennan said in a prepared statement. “Whether or not you live in a town on the Danbury line, this investment is important for you.”

Buckbee agreed that the two rail projects would “secure the economic vitality of the region.”

“It’s been more than 50 years that commuter rail ran through our community and now that the resources are available from our federal partners, let’s use those dollars for what they’re intended for - connecting more travelers to quality public transportation,” Buckbee said in a prepared statement. “With the addition of a greater commuter rail option in western Connecticut, our roadways will be less congested, tourism opportunities will increase, and it’ll be easier for daily commuters to get to their jobs.”

The lawmakers’ lobbying effort follows a visit to Danbury earlier this month by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who said Danbury was more likely than other locations to receive federal money for infrastructure improvements because “Danbury more than most other towns in the state (is) truly poised for progress.”

The state lawmakers’ letter does not mention the reopening of the Maybrook line from Danbury to Southeast, to reduce commuting traffic to New York City and create a faster train from here to Grand Central Terminal. That proposal, which has the backing of Metro-North President Cathy Rinaldi and state DOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti, is being studied with the support of a $1 million grant from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council.

Instead, Allie-Brennan, Buckbee and the Connecticut lawmakers said “[I]t is high time the Danbury Branch Line was addressed,” and “Now is the time to invest in the prosperity of western Connecticut.”

The lawmakers’ group wants to save Danbury commuters lost riding time by retiring the old diesel engines and replacing them with electric trains. The group also hopes to activate passenger trains on the Housatonic Railroad freight line from here to New Milford, providing the first commuter service for Brookfield and New Milford in two generations.

A regional planning leader agreed.

“Modernization and extension of the Danbury branch has been a long-standing priority of the region,” said Francis Pickering, executive director of Western Connecticut Council of Governments, in a prepared statement. “Improving service on the line will build on the dynamic growth that has propelled the region over the last year and that has heralded the state’s economic renaissance.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

The lawmakers’ lobbying effort follows a visit to Danbury earlier this month by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who said Danbury was more likely than other locations to receive federal money for infrastructure improvements because “Danbury more than most other towns in the state (is) truly poised for progress.”

The lawmakers’ lobbying effort follows a visit to Danbury earlier this month by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who said Danbury was more likely than other locations to receive federal money for infrastructure improvements because “Danbury more than most other towns in the state (is) truly poised for progress.”

“The vision for improving the state’s infrastructure must include electrification and extension of the Danbury branch of Metro-North Railroad,” Allie-Brennan said in a prepared statement. “Whether or not you live in a town on the Danbury line, this investment is important for you.”

Buckbee agreed that the two rail projects would “secure the economic vitality of the region.”

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November 2, 2021

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Republican Dean Esposito wins Danbury mayoral race after Roberto Alves concedes

Julia Perkins | Nov. 2, 2021 | Updated: Nov. 3, 2021 1 a.m.

Republican Dean Esposito wins Danbury mayoral race after Roberto Alves concedes

DANBURY — Republican Dean Esposito will be the city’s next mayor after his Democratic opponent Roberto Alves conceded Tuesday night in what was a tight race. This will mark 11 straight terms for the GOP in the city’s top elected office.

Esposito held just a 60-vote lead over Alves as of 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, but his margin widened as numbers came in later into the night. A recount had initially been expected, but appears unlikely following the concession.

With the initial unofficial results, Esposito claimed victory, even giving a speech in front of his supporters. Within a half hour of the speech, Alves called Esposito to concede.

“It’s an unbelievable night for the city of Danbury because we’re going to keep Danbury moving forward, and keep positive motion moving forward for the people of this city,” Esposito said in a speech before the concession call.

In his concession speech, Alves said it all came down to 181 votes.

“We did everything we thought we needed to do. We worked hard and became a family, but they won,” Alves told a crowd of enthusiastic supporters at The Palace Danbury on Main Street. “There is a winner and a loser. We lost. We lost the election. But the fight isn’t over.”

The loss is a major blow to Democrats, who haven’t run the city since Gene Eriquez’s six terms as mayor from 1989 to 2001.

By 10:20 p.m., Republicans were playing Queen’s “We are the Champions” at the Amerigo Vespucci Lodge on Christopher Columbus Avenue. This came as it appeared they could have claimed an at least 14-7 majority on City Council, according to preliminary election results. The Republicans may pick up an additional seat in the Seventh Ward, where numbers were tight.

Supporters hugged and took photos with Esposito, who was chief of staff under former Mayor Mark Boughton and Joe Cavo. He won the first open election in the Hat City in 20 years.

Esposito said he and Alves had a “very cordial” conversation on Tuesday night. The two had talked in recent days and agreed they both had the same goal — to move Danbury forward, Esposito said.

“I commend him for a good race,” Esposito said.

Mike Safranek, chairman of the Republican Town Committee, was thrilled with the results, but said Alves and the Democrats worked hard. The parties would be prepared to work together on Wednesday morning, he said.

“He’s (Alves) a class act and he worked his butt off,” Safranek said. “He should hold his head up high.”

Esposito has emphasized his experience as the mayor’s chief of staff for five years, as well as other elected and paid positions for the city. He’s argued Republican leadership has made the city successful, with low crime, tax, sewer and water rates.

“I’m feeling on top of the world,” he said.

Turnout was at more than 25 percent as of 7 p.m., according to the Secretary of the State’s office.

The candidates offered competing perspectives and visions for Danbury. Esposito had argued Danbury is doing well, while Alves said past leaders have ignored the city’s challenges.

As mayor, Esposito said he would ensure strong fiscal management, collaborate with the school officials to craft responsible budgets, and help the community recover from the coronavirus pandemic. He aims to continue the city’s efforts to revitalize the downtown and supports a charter school to help alleviate rising enrollment.

Alves has said the city has been too slow to address overcrowding in the schools and the lackluster downtown. He pledged to contribute a greater share of the city’s budget toward the schools, while using increased state funding toward local education.

Esposito is a former Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against Boughton in 2005. He later became one of Boughton’s supporters and switched parties.

Boughton resigned in the middle of his 10th term, putting Republican Joe Cavo in charge. Cavo, former City Council president, opted to run for an at-large seat on City Council.

Esposito comes from a long line of Danbury politicians. His father is a former state representative, while his grandfather was president of the Hatters Union for over 30 years and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the 1950s. Two of his relatives, Michael and John Esposito, ran to be re-elected for City Council this year.

Esposito grew up in Danbury and graduated from Danbury High School in 1979. Sometime after high school, he worked as a computer operator for Grolier, a book publishing company in Danbury that Scholastic eventually acquired.

Beginning in 1989, he served five terms on what was then called the Common Council. He was appointed town clerk in 2003 and in 2006 became the city’s director of consumer protection and sealer of weights. He later became the community services coordinator under Boughton.

He lived in the city until 2008, when he moved Brookfield. Since announcing his candidacy, he’s been living in Danbury at a family friend’s house on Candlewood Lake. He and his wife of 30 years plan to sell their Brookfield home and stay in Danbury permanently.

He has two adult children, 29-year-old Chloe and 24-year-old Chase.

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October 18, 2021

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Manufacturing company doubles down on CT, moving headquarters to Danbury

Manufacturing company doubles down on CT, moving headquarters to Danbury

Alexander Soule | Oct. 18, 2021

This past summer in preparing to move the family business to Danbury, Tim Holland unearthed a steno notepad from 1984 in which his father Bill had jotted down the business plan for Parker Medical, which sells systems for imaging machines that detect breast cancer.

“The business will be started with the introduction of a dedicated mammo tube — followed by x-ray high voltage cables,” Bill Holland Sr. had scrawled. “Other novel x-ray component products will be introduced in the future after the mammo tube and cables are established.”

Holding the steno pad Friday at Parker Medical’s new Danbury headquarters, Tim Holland drew a laugh from some of the 75-plus employees he leads as president and chief operating officer of the company.

“I’m not sure what happened to the mammo tube,” Holland said. “But the sentence that strikes me here — ‘other novel component products will be introduced in the future after the tubing’ — that’s exactly what he did.”

Parker Medical makes high-voltage cable assemblies inside breast-cancer imaging machines sold by General Electric, Hologic and Philips, as well as thousands of other components for computed tomography (CT) machines and others. Some of the company’s most complex products can take days to put together by multiple people, including testing and inspection.

Tim Holland said that the need for extra space drove the decision to move from Bridgewater where Parker Medical had long had facilities. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company secured extra flex space in Brookfield as well to create a duplicate assembly line, allowing for better spacing between employees and a continuity of production should either facility be hit with a viral outbreak.

For its new headquarters, Parker Medical considered locations in Brookfield and Westchester County, N.Y., but Holland said the Danbury building fit its needs best.

“Keeping manufacturing in Connecticut was dear to my dad, dear to me,” Holland said. “It was a matter of availability and opportunity.”

Himself a former x-ray engineer with GE, Bill Holland started Parker Medical in 1984. He died April 24, 2020, at age 91 of complications from a fall.

“While he was at GE, he developed one of the first x-ray tubes for mammography,” said Christine Holland, one of the seven sibling co-owners of Parker Medical who leads business development.

The company’s new home was used previously by Belimo which makes valves, actuators and sensors for heating and air conditioning systems. Belimo moved in 2015 to a nearby building that is more than twice the size of its former facility.

Parker Medical is located a short distance from a Hologic facility that makes some of the most advanced 3D mammography scanning machines available today.

State Rep. Ken Gucker, D-138th, recalls touring the Parker Medical building while in grade school to see the operations of Metallic Arts, a one-time maker of commemorative medallions for presidential inaugurations, military awards and others.

“You got to push this little button and it would stamp this memorial for the day,” Gucker said Friday. “It brings me back to why it is so important we have buildings not staying vacant, but actually having people working in them,”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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October 15, 2021

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4 CT Towns Among Top 100 Places To Live In U.S

Connecticut towns were named among the 100 best places to live in the nation. Rankers praised their history, beauty, walkability and more.

RJ Scofield,Patch Staf | Posted Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 4:46 pm ET|Updated Sun, Oct 17, 2021 at 3:57 pm ET

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CONNECTICUT — Four Connecticut towns are among the best 100 places to live in America, according to a new ranking released by the community research outlet Livability.

Norwalk ranked highest at 59th overall, with Livability noting the city's incredible diversity and its position nestled along the water of Long Island Sound.

"...residents have a high quality of life, with access to great schools, distinct neighborhoods and robust health care offerings," Livability said about Norwalk. "Rounded out with beaches, parks, historic sites and the Norwalk River, this city is full of beautiful scenery and lots of outdoor recreation options."

Hartford ranked next at 69th, while Danbury was ranked 85th. Livability gave Hartford strong praise as "an arts and culture heavy-hitter, home to spots like The Mark Twain House & Museum, the Harriet Beecher Stowe CenterThe Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art."

The authors said "...Danbury is home to ... great shopping, tons of parks and open spaces, top-notch health care and lots of arts and entertainment options."

New Haven rounded out the list at 87th and the authors said "It offers a high quality of life, thanks to its thriving restaurant and bar scene, arts and cultural offerings, walkable downtown and outdoor recreation opportunities."

Livability.com considered more than 1,000 small to mid-sized cities in the ranking process. The outlet surveyed residents on factors like safety, affordability, economic stability, outdoor recreation, accessibility, and community engagement.

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September 2, 2021

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Danbury’s school enrollment could surpass 12,000 students as high school sees ‘crowded’ hallways

Julia Perkins | Sep. 10, 2021

Danbury’s school enrollment could surpass 12,000 students as high school sees ‘crowded’ hallways

DANBURY — Enrollment at the public schools could be the highest ever this year.

As of Wednesday, 11,711 students were enrolled in the district, but that figure is expected to surpass 12,000 students.

“Danbury remains popular amongst families seeking a place to live in Connecticut,” Superintendent Kevin Walston said at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

The paperwork for 327 students is pending, while administrators anticipate another 100 students to enroll in the next couple weeks, he said.

“Of course, we may continue to receive families,” Walston said. “We always continue to get another rush of students in January and February.”

Enrollment was 11,660 as of Oct. 1 of last year. That was lower than the previous year, when more than 11,900 students attended the schools. That downturn attributed to COVID-19’s effect on immigration trends, in addition to parents keeping their children out of school during the pandemic.

Danbury is adding classrooms to Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School and plans to construct a career academy for middle and high school students due to the influx of children.

Enrollment could reach a peak of about 12,425 students in 2024-25, according to the most recent high-model projections from a demographer. The low-model projections reach a peak in 2023-24 with about 12,260 students.

Rising enrollment has sparked concerns about overcrowding in the schools, especially as COVID-19 has meant students shouldn’t be crammed together.

Crowded hallways at Danbury High School were cited at Wednesday’s meeting.

“It's very crowded, normally,” Principal Dan Donovan said. “But I can tell you, this being my sixth year in this building, it’s not more or any less than the start of any school year.”

Part of the problem is that new students need to learn the best direction to walk in the hallways.

“Every year when we come in, we have to teach probably about 850 freshmen how to walk in the hallways and where to go,” he said.

Some sophomores who were on remote learning last year are new to the building, too, while some juniors were only in the freshman academy wing until March of 2020.

The school has set up one-way hallways and directional changes, with staff in hallways pointing out which ways students should go, Donovan said. Staff are monitoring congestion points through cameras, he said.

If congestion doesn’t die down within a week or so, the school may consider dismissing students at different times, he said.

“It is crowded,” Donovan said. “We’re well aware of it, and we’re going to monitor it closely.”

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August 9, 2021

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'Sculpture in the streets': Artwork added to liven downtown Danbury

Julia Perkins | Aug. 9, 2021

DANBURY — Four new sculptures created by local artists are expected to help liven downtown Danbury.

The works will join the sculptures already displayed on Main Street near the intersection of Kennedy Avenue as part of CityCenter Danbury’s ongoing “Sculpture in the Streets” project.

These sculptures are being added on Main Street through a collaboration between the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut and CityCenter Danbury.

It’s part of the Cultural Alliance’s “Accessible Art” program to promote artists and their work throughout the region. This is the second Accessible Art program this year, with the first being installed at Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown.

“Partnering with CityCenter is a great example of how we support community,” Lisa Scails, executive director of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, said in a statement. “We are connecting artists with the opportunity to make art more accessible to everyone, and in this case, helping to create a vibrant downtown Danbury that’s welcoming and interesting.”

The city is installing new streetscape in downtown Danbury in an effort to revitalize the area.

Art Stueck, chair of the CityCenter Board of Commissioners, thanked the Cultural Alliance and the artists.

“Public art is a great reason to travel to a destination and we intend to make Danbury a place to visit, view, and enjoy all forms of public art,” he said. “And while you’re here, you can participate in events such as ‘Dancing Under the Stars,’ and our friendly trivia competitions, as well as eat at a wonderful downtown restaurant.”

Selected artists are from Danbury, Bethel and New Hartford.

Artist Justin Perlman, of Bethel, created an abstract sculpture called “Virtuoso,” which was re-purposed from an old bulldozer blade and is a “not-quite solid figure of pieces resembling notes and instruments,” the Cultural Alliance said.

Another piece by Brian McCarley, of Danbury, is called the “Continuum: The Doorway Between Past and Future.” It’s made of reclaimed steel and stained glass and represents the “interconnected nature of life and death” during the coronavirus pandemic, the organization said.

David Skora, New Hartford resident and Western Connecticut State University professor, focused on the tension between objects in his piece, “Bent.”

Danbury resident Jim Felice’s “Jack and Jill” was originally constructed in the 1990s in memory of the artist’s aunt and uncle, who were professional ballroom dancers and whose act was named “Jack and Jill.”

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August 9, 2021

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'Hometown Heroes' banners to honor Danbury veterans

Julia Perkins | Aug. 9, 2021

DANBURY — Banners honoring local service members will decorate parts of the city next year.

The city, through the Danbury Veterans Affairs Office, is launching a Hometown Heroes Banner Program for 2022 as a tribute to Danbury residents in the armed forces. The 18-by-36-inch digitally printed, double-sided vinyl banners will be placed on city owned lampposts on White Street between Holley Lane and 5th Avenue. Each banner will honor a specific Danbury service member, whether a current or past resident of the city. Banners will feature a photo, his or her name, rank, branch of service, era of service, years of service (if available), and (optionally) donor information.

“Seeing the proudly displayed banners while driving down White Street or by those who pass by will be a constant reminder of the sacrifices our local veterans have made to protect our freedoms,” Program Coordinator Lee Teicholz said in a statement. “The City of Danbury continues to be a community which strongly supports and advocates for its military personnel and veterans.”

The Danbury Council of Veterans announced the program to coincide with Purple Heart Day on Saturday. In 2016, Danbury was recognized as a Purple Heart City for its support and advocacy of our military personnel and veterans.

“I'm proud to support another program honoring the brave men and women who serve our country and keep us safe every day,” said Dan Hayes, director of Danbury Veterans Affairs.

Banners will cost $160 and will be displayed from Memorial Day through Veterans Day at which time they will be removed and placed in storage for the winter months. Banners that have been displayed for the initial period may be redisplayed the following year depending on space availability at a cost of $80 or may be returned to the donor at their request. New applications will take precedence over redisplayed banners. All orders must be received by March 31, 2022 to allow time for printing and installation by Memorial Day.

“The Hometown Heroes Banner Program is such a powerful way to honor our local veterans here in Danbury,” Mayor Joseph Cavo said in a statement. "This visual provides our community with an opportunity to see the names and faces of the brave men and women who fought for our freedoms and pay tribute to them for their service and sacrifice. I couldn't be more proud to host this program in our city and hope you will consider supporting these efforts.”

Applications may be downloaded on the program’s website or by visiting the Danbury Veterans Affairs Office in the Patrick R. Waldron Veterans Hall on Memorial Drive. Applications require the filled out form, a photograph of the hero in uniform, proof of honorable discharge and a check for $160, which will cover the printing and installation costs.

Donations are encouraged. Profits from the program will be used to help support veteran services in Danbury.

Only 42 display locations are available, so applications will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. A waiting list for next year will be created if needed. Additional display locations may be added in the future depending on the success of the program.

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August 4, 2021

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Danbury schools are preparing to bring students back full-time in fall

Danbury schools are preparing to bring students back full-time in fall

Julia Perkins | Aug. 4, 2021 | Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 5:07 p.m.

DANBURY — Danbury schools have hired 120 certified staff members and ordered about 3,000 desks to prepare for the new school year.

But about four weeks away from the first day of classes, questions remain about issues like masks. Danbury and other districts are awaiting direction from the state after federal guidance last week recommended masks for all inside schools, regardless of vaccination status.

“The district is not in a position to make any decisions regarding masks and what exactly the reopening is going to look like,” interim Superintendent Kevin Walston said at a Monday special school board meeting. “What I can reassure the community is our buildings will be reopening in the fall. We will be fully reopening.”

Danbury’s big picture idea to safely fit all roughly 12,000 students into the crowded buildings hasn’t changed much since the board approved a plan last spring.

The district is renting a vacant Catholic school in Brookfield — now known as the Danbury Primary Center — for 11 sections of kindergarten.

The district purchased more than $500,000 in furniture and renovated some buildings, Walston said. Students should be at least three feet apart, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.

The high school moved to an eight-period day, to help reduce class sizes. Fifteen high school and 14 elementary teachers were added.

So far, the district has hired 120 certified and 18 noncertified staff members, including a new principal at Hayestown Elementary School and interim principal at the Danbury Primary Center, Walston said.

Town hall meetings with parents will be held next week to get feedback on the plan. A reopening committee that includes the hospital, health director and labor units, will meet the week of Aug. 16. The school board will vote on a final plan on Aug. 25.

Construction

At the Brookfield school, the district is working on a $200,000 renovation to the basement to add three classrooms for music, art, special education and English as a second language, said Richard Jalbert, coordinator of sites and facilities. New floors and a burglar alarm are being installed, too.

The district ordered $650,000 in furniture for that school. This includes 240 desks for students, as well as a desk and bookcase for each teacher, he said.

Kindergartners going to the school in Brookfield would have gone to Ellsworth Avenue, Stadley Rough or South Street elementary schools.

Parents have requested bus monitors for kindergartners, which the district hopes to add at a $350,000 to $400,000 cost. Walston said he thinks the district can afford this because of furniture cost savings.

In other schools, some cabinets were removed to add space for social distancing. This includes four rooms at Stadley Rough Elementary School and one or two rooms at Park Avenue Elementary School, Jalbert said.

At King Street Intermediate School, the district is building a partition wall between media center and classroom to create two distinct spaces, he said. His team is building a quarantine room in the nurse’s office to free up office space.

Space restrictions were among the reasons Danbury could not return full-time last school year. But so far registrations are matching district expectations, Walston said.

King Street has reached capacity in kindergarten, although Danbury and other districts anticipated higher enrollment in that grade this fall due to families holding their kids back last year.

“Across the rest of the district, we’re actually in pretty good shape so far,” Walston said.

COVID-19 concerns

The district is strongly encouraging eligible students get vaccinated for COVID-19, especially as the highly contagious delta variant spreads across the state.

Beginning Monday, vaccine clinics will be held at five schools for students ages 12 and over, their families and anyone in the community. Two clinics will be held at each of the selected schools, spaced 21 days a part for patients to get their first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, said Kathy O’Dowd, coordinator of health and nursing services.

The school-based health centers have offered vaccines throughout the summer and will continue to do so, she said.

“That’s our most important mitigation strategy right now,” O’Dowd said.

The CDC considers Fairfield County to have “substantial” COVID-19 spread because it’s had at least 50 new daily cases per 100,000 people over seven days.

Danbury, however, has averaged about three new daily cases per 100,000 people over 14 days, said Kara Prunty, acting health director.

“We’re still at a relatively low community transmission rate, which is good,” she said.

About 47 percent of Danbury residents 12 to 18 are vaccinated, she said.

“We still have some work to do in getting more people vaccinated, which again, is the best prevention mechanism,” Prunty said.

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August 2, 2021

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$13 million solar project backed by Danbury advisory group, promising $700K in yearly energy savings

$13 million solar project backed by Danbury advisory group, promising $700K in yearly energy savings

Rob Ryser | Aug. 5, 2021 | Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 11:13 p.m.

DANBURY — An advisory group of city leaders are supporting a $13 million solar panel project expected to save taxpayers $700,000 annually in long-term energy costs.

The unanimous backing by the advisory group clears the way for the City Council to approve the contract as soon as September to install solar panels on the roofs of five schools and the Danbury Library.

Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo is behind the project because of its “tremendous savings going forward.”

Under the plan, the city would be reimbursed $8 million in state construction grants to put solar panels on Broadview, Rogers Park and Westside middle schools, King Street Primary School, and Danbury High School.

The city would pay $5 million to put solar panels on Danbury Library — a cost that is expected to be made up in electricity savings over nine years.

Ellsworth Avenue and Park Avenue elementary schools already have solar panels. Other schools with older roofs that need to be replaced are not thought to be good candidates, city officials said.

During a discussion by the advisory group in July, Aaron Alibro, a representative from consultant Johnson Controls, Inc., told members that “the energy production savings is guaranteed with a 25-year warranty.”

The city would start enjoying its energy savings after the project was paid off, said David St. Hilaire, the city’s finance director, during the July advisory group meeting.

The project could be completed by next summer.

The idea got its start from discussions between city officials, school board members and a consultant about “a project that would be energy efficient and cost effective,” Hilaire said.

Hilaire said the discussion could lead to similar initiatives.

“We’re not looking at this as a one-time thing,” Hilaire told The News-Times earlier this month.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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July 27, 2021

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Three heroes to join Danbury's native daughter Marian Anderson on nearby downtown mural

Three heroes to join Danbury's native daughter Marian Anderson on nearby downtown mural

Rob Ryser | July 27, 2021

DANBURY — Famous daughter Marian Anderson will have company when an artist paints her mural on a downtown wall later this year.

The portraits of slain president John F. Kennedy, slain civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. and the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have been commissioned for a wall overlooking Kennedy Park, next to the portrait of Anderson that will replace the mural behind the Kennedy Park fountain.

Ryan Christenson, a North Haven artist who goes by the street name, ARCY, is painting the Kennedy, King and Bader mural under the title, “Legends Live Forever.”

“Throughout history, many have created change, many have left their mark,” ARCY said in a prepared release. “Through the echoes of the past, we find pride in our predecessors, we honor their story, we communicate their words, and we display their actions.”

The legends mural, which is scheduled to be complete and unveiled on Monday, was commissioned by CityCenter Danbury, in partnership with RiseUP for Arts/CT Murals, DaSilva Realty and City Hall.

The mural will likely be finished before the mural of Anderson, an opera singer from Danbury who gave a rousing performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 after Constitution Hall barred her because she was Black.

“As for the Marian Anderson mural we are finalizing the call to artists with the city of Danbury,” said Angela Wong, CityCenter executive director.

Wong said the building fronts facing Kennedy Park were “an ideal canvas to support ambitious and meaningful” projects.

“This is another exciting step toward bringing more art, culture and vibrancy to downtown Danbury,” she said.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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June 29, 2021

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Danbury's Palace theater reopens after restoration and 15-month COVID shutdown

Julia Perkins | June 17, 2021 - Updated: June 17, 2021 9:33 p.m.


Danbury's Palace theater reopens after restoration and 15-month COVID shutdown

The Palace Danbury theatre will be reopen on Saturday for the first time since March 2020. It is undergoing a minor restoration. Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Danbury, Conn.


A shadow hung over The Palace theater’s last show.

On Saturday, March 7, 2020 — the day after the first Danbury and Connecticut connection to the coronavirus was reported — and a comedian performed at the downtown theater as an early St. Patrick’s Day event.

“It was a really funny show … but something didn’t feel quite right,” said Carol Freud Spiegel, managing director for The Palace. “The staff and audience were all talking about ‘that virus.’”

Shortly after, the Palace and other venues across the state and nation closed.

Fifteen months later, the theater is reopening its doors Saturday night, featuring comedian Julia Scotti.

With reopening has come increased cleaning and a minor restoration to the marquee.

Theater officials had considered opening earlier, but will open now without the COVID-19 restrictions the state was under until a month ago.

“I’m glad we waited until now to open,” Spiegel said.

The reopening comes as new COVID-19 cases in Danbury are at among the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic.

The city reported eight positive tests taken June 8 through June 13, according to Danbury’s latest report. That’s the lowest weekly number since seven cases were reported the week of March 9, 2020, and a big improvement from several months ago, Mayor Joe Cavo said.

“I’m excited to see businesses start to be able to reopen,” he said. “It’s nice to be at this point in time.”

He said he still wants to move forward “cautiously,” but has seen more people in restaurants and businesses.

“It’s a sign of encouragement,” Cavo said.

Patrons at The Palace will not be required to wear masks, although staff will, Spiegel said. The theater brought in an outside service to clean and sanitize the building from “head to toe,” she said. The air filtration system was upgraded.

The theater has 400 seats, but only 200 tickets will be sold to Saturday’s show. All tickets are general admission, so patrons may seat themselves away from others.

“This will be a self social-distanced show,” Spiegel said. **“**There are some seats that will be closed off. I don't anticipate us to be at capacity this weekend.”

Ahead of the opening, the theater is returning to its roots. The marquee has been painted with the historic colors the theater’s opening in 1928, she said. LED lights were installed on the marquee.

“The space and the time has given us time to reflect on what we want to see and what we want our public to see,” Spiegel said. “It's pretty exciting.”

The theater plans to continue with interior restoration, she said.

Saturday’s show begins at 8 p.m. with opener Anita Wise, a stand-up comedian who has been featured at the “Just for Laughs Festival” in Montreal and has appeared on “Seinfield” and “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.

The main act is Julia Scotti, who has been named one of the Top Five Transgender Comedians in the country by The Advocate magazine. She was a finalist on Season 11 of “America’s Got Talent” and is known as the “crazy old lady of comedy.”

She has a comedy special on Showtime called “More Women of a Certain Age” and a new documentary film, “Julia Scotti: Funny That Way.”

Scotti said she appeals to all generations.

“Young kids laugh at me because I'm like a crazy grandmother,” she said in a statement. “Middle-aged people say I remind them of their grandmother, and my age people say it's so true what I say.”

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June 28, 2021

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COVID-19 Weekly Data

Danbury COVID-19 Weekly Data | UPDATED: JUNE 28, 2021









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June 28, 2021

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Interim Superintendent Named in Danbury Ahead of Pascarella's Retirement

Julia Perkins | June 28, 2021Updated: June 28, 2021 4:41 p.m.


Interim superintendent named in Danbury ahead of Pascarella's retirement

DANBURY — Assistant Superintendent Kevin Walston will temporarily lead the district until a permanent school chief is named.

Sal Pascarella, who has served as superintendent for 15 years, is set to retire after Wednesday, and the school board has narrowed down a list of candidates to replace him.

“It’s an honor to have been in this district,” Pascarella said after the board voted Wednesday to name Walston as interim superintendent. “It’s a labor of love. It’s a wonderful, wonderful community to be in and to retire from for me, wonderful memories. And I know you’ll continue to do good work. I’m really proud of the district.”

The school board plans to interview the top five candidates for permanent superintendent on Tuesday and Wednesday over Zoom, said Gladys Cooper, chair of the education board. Members will narrow down the list to two to three candidates, who will then be interviewed in-person, she said.

The board has eyed July 7 as the date to pick the new leader, but the decision could be pushed if board members aren’t satisfied with the candidates, Cooper said.

“We just don’t want to rush the process,” she said.

The new superintendent is expected to be announced sometime after the week of July 5, according to a timeline on the district’s website.

Walston is expected to serve until the new superintendent takes over or “until the board otherwise takes further action,” according to the motion the board members approved. His new role begins July 1.

“Obviously I’m honored to be filling for Dr. Sal and supporting the district in this role in the interim,” he said.

Other new positions

The district has a new interim finance director, Frank Connolly, with experience in schools and municipal governance. Connolly has served as town manager in North Branford, Newington and Coventry and as school business manager in Stonington.

He has been interim school finance director for various districts, including North Haven and Monroe, where he and the superintendent were put on leave in January 2020 due to budgetary shortfall problems that investigators later determined started before they were hired.

Connolly is the author of “Hidden Agendas: Inside Town Hall,” a book about small-town politics in a fictional Connecticut community.

He is taking over for Courtney LeBorious, who is leaving Danbury for another position. She became finance director in November 2019.

Three new principals were hired, too.

Michelle Tarsi will lead Mill Ridge Primary School, while Ellen Paolino will head Hayestown Elementary School beginning July 1. Janet Sayegh will be interim principal of the Danbury Primary Center, the new kindergarten school opening in Brookfield under the COVID-19 return-to-school plan.

Since 2009, Sayegh has been a fifth-grade teacher at Pembroke Elementary School, where she is seen as the “right-hand person,” said Kara Casimiro, director of teaching and learning. Sayegh is one of three summer school directors.

Tarsi has been Mill Ridge’s interim principal for the past year and previously served as assistant principal at Park Avenue Elementary School, where she taught for 15 years. She has worked as a district numeracy coach and summer school administrator.

“Michelle is committed to ensuring that all students learn to their maximum potential and to fostering innovation through collaboration with teachers, staff, students and families,” Walston said in a statement. “She is familiar with the traditions and successful practices at Mill Ridge Primary and will diligently continue in her official capacity as its principal.”

Paolino has been principal of Walsh School in Waterbury for seven years and served as interim principal for Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School in Waterbury.

“Ms. Paolino impressed all of our interview committees with her education, her experience, her knowledge and her passion, and we believe that she is poised to lead Hayestown forward in the strongest way,” Walston said.

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June 25, 2021

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Here's What Will Be inside Danbury's $99 Million Career Academy

Julia Perkins | June 25, 2021 - Updated: June 25, 2021 6 a.m.


Here's what will be inside Danbury's $99 million career academy

Preliminary renderings of the Danbury Career Academy for middle and high school students at the Summit.


DANBURY — The $99 million career academy is expected to include various labs, a rooftop greenhouse, a gym with bleachers for 400 and dozens of classrooms.

At its first in-person meeting since March 2020, the school board this week approved design and educational plans for the new school that will serve 1,400 middle and high school students.

These so-called education specifications are a key part of the city’s application to the state for a grant that would cover 80 percent of the project’s cost. The final deadline for the application is Oct. 1, but the state asked for a draft by Sept. 1.

Antonio Iadarola, the city’s engineer and public works director, said selective demolition could start on the space at the beginning of 2022. The city has hired an architect for the project.

“Everything is moving very, very well,” he told the school board before members unanimously approved the document to applause.

The school is expected to open in the 2023-24 school year and is planned to be built within three wings of the Summit development, a 1.2 million-square-foot building on the city’s west side.

The document details the need for the project, saying enrollment has increased 17 percent over 10 years and that an additional 10 percent growth is anticipated over the next 10 years. The school is expected to serve 1,040 high-school students and 360 middle school students.

Plans call for labs, a cafeteria, administrative area, nurse suite, five special education classrooms, media research center, and physical education area with a gym, locker rooms, fitness room and other features.

Students may present projects in a choral and instrumental area that can also be used for robotics testing because it’s close to the engineering room, according to the plans. The training area for students looking to become emergency medical technicians will have large doors for full-size ambulance access.

Danbury is reworking its curriculum for high-schoolers, with plans for students to study career fields within six academies.

Students in the Academy of Scientific Innovation and Medicine, as well as the Academy of Enterprise and Economics, will attend the career academy.

Within the scientific innovation academy, students will pursue biomedical science, sports and human performance, therapeutic health services, medical technology and engineering, and environmental and renewable energy.

The enterprise academy includes management and leadership, investment and finance, business and entrepreneurship, and global supply chain and logistics.

The district plans to “rival” the academies at a similar school in Nashville, which Danbury has based its plans on, the document states. The White House has recognized the Nashville academies as a “national high school transformation model,” according to its website.

The middle school will offer an Academy of Design and Innovation that will “drive inquiry-based learning across all middle grades through the design thinking process,” the district writes. Design labs will be built and are meant to prepare students for high school.

School officials are working with the local business community to develop the academies and expect students will be able to learn from businesses in the Summit, such as Nuvance Health.

“With the five-year plan to further develop more academies and dozens of corporate and area business partnerships, the city stands to gain a valuable return on investment by creating a cadre of in demand skilled professionals who are more likely to remain the greater Danbury area to live, work and contribute to the community,” the district writes.

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June 17, 2021

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Danbury High School students graduate: 'You all did it'

Julia Perkins | June 10, 2021Updated: June 10, 2021 6:25 p.m.

DANBURY — Nearly 850 Danbury High School students graduated Thursday in two outdoor ceremonies.


The first ceremony at 2 p.m. at the high school’s stadium saw 440 students graduate, with 402 seniors at the second 5 p.m. ceremony. In total, 842 students graduated.

The students sat on chairs on the field, while family members were in the stadium seats. The ceremonies were live streamed on YouTube.

“As the senior class, you were stripped of many events that make high school years memorable — homecoming, sporting events, crowds, a high school whole class graduation,” Principal Dan Donovan told the students. “You were left with Google Meets, long days sitting in a chair and learning to communicate while wearing a mask. But you know something, you all did it.”

Caleb Schlissel earned valedictorian, while Viktoria Wolff-Andersen was salutatorian.

Speakers included Melody Dayrit and Aleena Jacob. Class advisers were Emina Mesanovic and Nicole Gurney.

Donovan reflected on how he’s watched many of the students grow up. His son is graduating this year.

“Most principals can say they watched their students grow from 9th to 12th grade,” he said. “I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of watching some of you grow from the time you were in kindergarten.”

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June 17, 2021

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Expert: Danbury area leads CT in job growth as nation begins recovery from the COVID recession

Rob Ryser | June 16, 2021 | Updated: June 17, 2021 7:54 a.m.

Expert: Danbury area leads CT in job growth as nation begins recovery from the COVID recession


DANBURY — The good news is the COVID-19 recession is not only over, but the nation is in recovery, an expert told business leaders on Wednesday during an economic forecast presentation.

While Connecticut may not be rebounding with the same strength as the rest of the nation from the worst recession since World War II, the Danbury area is leading the recovery with the strongest job growth in the state.

“We have heard no official call from the National Bureau of Economic Research, but there is every indication that we have decidedly moved into recovery — although not so much in Connecticut,” said Donald Klepper-Smith, a veteran New Haven economist. “Danbury is on the rebound and clearly making progress.”

What that means for the Hat City and the seven surrounding towns that make up the Danbury Labor Market Area is that unemployment will continue to drop, and employment will continue to grow by 200 jobs each month, Klepper-Smith projected.

“Danbury is outperforming the rest of the state and is poised for growth,” said Klepper-Smith, referring to a Danbury labor market that includes Bethel, Brookfield, Bridgewater, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, and Sherman. “You were down 17,000 jobs at the worst (of the coronavirus crisis) but you have gained 10,000 since April 2020, because you folks have done a better job.”

Klepper-Smith shared statistics during an hourlong Zoom presentation for the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce showing Danbury with a 6.6 percent unemployment rate — the lowest of the state’s nine labor markets, and a full percentage point lower than the state’s 7.6 percent jobless rate. The national unemployment rate is 5.7 percent. The state’s unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in February 2020, according to a state report.

P.J. Prunty, the Danbury chamber’s president and CEO, said the economist’s partly sunny forecast confirmed for business leaders the good news they’ve been seeing on the streets for weeks.

“I thought the presentation reaffirmed some of the conversations and statements we’ve been hearing anecdotally, because when you see the data, it shows that we were struggling, but we are rebounding and coming back fast,” Prunty said.

Prunty is referring to unprecedented joblessness after the COVID-19 crisis in the spring of 2020, when the nation lost 21 million jobs. Connecticut lost 269,000 jobs in one month.

“That’s twice the number of all the jobs that were created in Connecticut during the previous 10 years,” Klepper-Smith said. “When we talk about economic devastation, we have no precedent for this. This is unfathomable.”

The climb back from devastation got a boost with the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress in March. Connecticut’s lifting of business restrictions in May as vaccination rates increased contributed to a growing sense of optimism, Prunty said after the presentation.

“Certainly, there are some challenges ahead, but I think this confidence will continue to grow,” Prunty said.

The president of Newtown Savings Bank agreed.

“As we approach the end of what — God willing — is the end of this slow-motion nightmare that we have all been living through, we recognize ... the incredible efforts and the bravery of our health care workers and first responders,” said Ken Weinstein, whose bank sponsored the economic forecast presentation. “We also want to recognize what businesses have done to keep customers safe and to keep people employed.”

Weinstein added it was a privilege to have an economist of Klepper-Smith’s pedigree to present the economic forecast.

Among other things, Klepper-Smith was chairman of Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s Economic Advisory Council from 2007 to 2010.

“I don’t remember him predicting COVID,” Weinstein quipped. “But other than that, he has been very reliable.”

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June 16, 2021

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MannKind to hire 100 in Danbury making treatment for killer lung ailmen

Alexander Soule | June 16, 2021 Updated: June 16, 2021 1:57 p.m.

MannKind to hire 100 in Danbury making treatment for killer lung ailment

MannKind is bringing 100 jobs back to its Danbury manufacturing facility, as the Food & Drug Administration initiates a “priority review” of a pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment that would be administered through inhalers prescribed by doctors.

The Westlake Village, Calif.-based pharmaceutical company is working on Tyvaso DPI alongside United Therapeutics, which has its headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.

MannKind CEO Mike Castagna in June 2017 in Danbury, Conn. The company plans to hire as many as 100 people for the production facility in expectation of Food & Drug Administration approval of a drug to treat hypertension. Chris Bosak / Hearst Connecticut Media

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention describes pulmonary hypertension as excess blood pressure in arteries leading from the heart to the lungs. It is a rare disease that effects larger numbers of women than men, with pharmaceutical companies coming up with multiple approaches to managing symptoms but having yet to land on a cure.

Farmington resident Carol Morrison is on an existing United Therapeutics treatment for pulmonary hypertension, and runs a support group for about 30 patients as a Connecticut chapter of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, which has its main office in Silver Spring.

“If someone is diagnosed in stage one, they’re just noticing some shortness of breath they didn’t have before — but very rarely does someone get diagnosed [early] ... because the symptoms are very similar to asthma or COPD,” Morrison said. “The most severe is that you are on oxygen 24-7 — everything you do makes you short of breath, even dressing or talking on the phone. ... Your heart just gives out eventually because it has to work so hard to get the blood through the lungs.”

MannKind expanded in Danbury in 2008 at a cost of $114 million to make Afrezza, an insulin drug for people with diabetes that is delivered via inhalers. Danbury workforce numbers have bounced around since depending on Afrezza sales.

The company expects to hire up to 100 additional people to support Tyvaso DPI production, with about 50 openings today in Danbury. MannKind expects the FDA to complete its review in October, with the agency having yet to identify any issues of concern.

“Your lungs are half the [area] of a tennis court — so they’re a ... great mechanism to get drugs into the body,” said Mike Castagna, CEO of MannKind, in a Wednesday telephone interview. “Inhalation is probably one of the fastest ways you can get resolution of symptoms. The lungs aren’t perfect for every type of drug, but ... the lungs are incredible mechanism.”

In response to a question, Castagna said that MannKind remains open to applying its inhaler technology to any potential treatments for COVID-19, with the virus’ complications caused by a spike protein that lodges in lung tissue.

“We have the ability to make 300 or 400 million doses in Danbury, so when you think about the government looking for U.S. manufacturing [and] scale, we have all those ingredients,” Castagna said. “A booster vaccine — that’s something that we probably could put in our technology.”

The hypertension inhalers will have a similar design to the Afrezza devices which contain a dry powder. United Therapeutics and MannKind plan to include a “BluHale” wireless accessory that will allow patients to track their doses on a mobile app.

United Therapeutics led the submission of Tyvaso DPI, with MannKind to get “low double-digit” royalties in its words on sales.

In Danbury, MannKind is seeking people to fill a range of roles to include manufacturing, engineering and warehouse operations. Castagna himself joined MannKind the day that founder Al Mann died, with Mann having a range of inventions to his credit across high-tech and life sciences including insulin pumps.

As the company awaits the FDA’s decision on Tyvaso DPI, it is also working to get approval to sell Afrezza in overseas markets including Europe and India.

“It’s going to be a global brand — all being made in Danbury,” Castagna said. “Growing your talent base is a challenge for all companies right now, no matter how much your paying or types of jobs. I encourage people to apply — you may be able to get a ‘stretch’ assignment that you wouldn’t normally get.”

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June 16, 2021

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Danbury City Council Approves $99M Academy, Without Referendum

Rich Kirby, Patch Staff | Posted Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 8:25 pm ET

Danbury City Council Approves $99M Academy, Without Referendum

The Danbury City Council voted to move forward with plans for the Danbury Academy. No public referendum will be called.

Occupancy of the Danbury career academy is likely to begin August 2024. (Thompson & Bender)

DANBURY, CT — The City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the $99 million career academy for students in grades 6-12, to be located within the Summit development.

The council voted Monday night not to put the project in front of a public referendum. An executive order issued by the governor at the start of the coronavirus pandemic empowered municipal authorities to bypass some town-wide votes in the interest of coronavirus safety.

Farley Santos, one of two on the council who voted in favor of the referendum, said he would have "preferred this going before the public, as stated in our charter. I think we could have pulled that off."

Occupancy is likely to begin August 2024. School Superintendent Sal Pascarella said he anticipates class sizes in the existing school system will continue to get bigger until the Academy can take on some of the student population.

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June 15, 2021

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See how your town fares in the new CT budget

by JACQUELINE RABE THOMAS and KASTURI PANANJADY | JUNE 9, 2021

See how your town fares in the new CT budget: "Danbury" 

The state will send $191.5 million more to cities and towns in the fiscal year that begins July 1, an 8% increase over current funding. This comes on top of the $3.2 billion in additional federal pandemic aid that municipalities have to spend over the next couple years.

While 82% of the $2.6 billion in state aid heading for municipalities is earmarked for education, the bulk of the increased state aid, $145 million, is to help lower-income communities cover non-education related costs. Of the $3.2 billion in federal aid that the federal government is sending cities and towns to help them weather the pandemic, $1.6 billion went to towns for non-education aid and $1.5 billion to school districts.

Here is a rundown of non-education aid cities and towns can expect.

The state budget boosts overall school aid by $46.4 million, a 2.2% increase, most of which is directed at lower-income districts. This is accomplished by sending more to districts for each English language learner they enroll and to districts that have high concentrations of students who come from low-income families. There has also been more than $1 billion in pandemic aid from the federal government directed largely at impoverished school districts.

Here is a rundown of the state and federal education aid heading for each school district. Districts have two more school years to spend the federal aid. On Tuesday, the state released districts’ plans on how they plan to expend the federal aid.

An influx of education aid heading for districts

The state budget sends an additional $45 million to school districts next year. The federal government will also send districts over $1 billion to be spent this year and the next three years

Search: DANBURY

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June 15, 2021

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'Open Choice' Program Approved for Danbury, Norwalk Area Schools

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media |  Julia Perkins - June 15, 2021 - Updated: June 15, 2021 6 a.m.

Students from Danbury and Norwalk will be able to attend schools in neighboring districts beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

The legislature approved additional funding in the state budget to expand the “Open Choice” program to Danbury and Norwalk.

This program allows students from these city schools to attend suburban schools. It’s meant to address increasing enrollment in Danbury and Norwalk schools and declining student population in nearby towns. The program also helps to make suburban schools more diverse, supporters have said.

The budget provides $275,000 in the 2022-23 fiscal year and $900,000 in 2023-24 to establish the program, according to State Sen. Julie Kushner, D-Danbury,’s office.

In the first year of the program, 50 students from Danbury and 50 students from Norwalk will be able to attend nearby schools. Danbury students can go to New Fairfield, Brookfield, Bethel, Ridgefield and Redding, while Norwalk students can go to Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, Weston and Westport.

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June 10, 2021

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As the Danbury Fair mall attracts new business, experts say 'creativity' needed to 'survive'

Julia Perkins | June 10, 2021 Updated: June 10, 2021 6 a.m.

Danbury Fair mall is bringing in new businesses to fill vacant space, with experts saying malls need to be innovative to survive.

DANBURY — As the Connecticut Post Mall seeks to turn open space into apartments, the Danbury Fair mall says it’s seeing success in attracting new businesses.

Several new stores and a restaurant have opened during the coronavirus pandemic, while Shake Shack and Longhorn Steakhouse are on the way. While the mall still has vacant space, store openings bucks the common thinking that COVID could spell trouble for brick and mortar retail locations, especially malls.

“We’re really seeing some activity in back fills and backfilling some closures that happened due to COVID,” said Maura Ruby, senior property manager for the Danbury Fair mall.

Urban Outfitters, for example, is expected to fill Microsoft’s former spot in the winter, she said. Barbarie’s Grill took over the former Brio Tuscan Grille space.

Innovation needed

Malls face challenges competing with the “convenience” of online shopping, said A. Ben Oumlil, a marketing professor with Western Connecticut State University.

“For them to survive in the long run, you have to provide better experiences for the customer, offer more than shops,” he said.

That means amenities like restaurants, gyms and car dealerships that could draw customers in, he said.
The Connecticut Post Mall, meanwhile, is proposing 500 apartments over two phases, in addition to 450,000 square feet of commercial space, two more plazas, a medical center, innovation center and office space.

“This is the kind of creativity and innovation that malls will have to experiment with to try to see what they can do to use the space in ways that support all the activities that are associated with the mall,” said Fred McKinney, the Carlton Highsmith Chair for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and director of the People’s United Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Quinnipiac University.

Health care services are another example of something malls could offer, he said. If the state legalizes recreational marijuana, malls could take advantage of that, too, he said.

Community members have been able to get their COVID-19 shots at a clinic outside the Danbury Fair mall. The mall has long hosted food and blood drives, Ruby said.

A gym is expected to open this year, as well, she said.

Customers have adjusted to using technology and online services during the pandemic, but people are “social beings,” which is an advantage malls have, McKinney said.

“People like to touch and feel what they are about to purchase, at least see it in a non-digital way,” he said.
Still, stores will need to use more technology to please customers, he said.

“The malls have the ability to come back, but that doesn’t guarantee that all the stores that occupy these malls will be as successful because the competitive forces are still there,” McKinney said.

Retailers had a strong 2020 holiday season at Danbury Fair in part because the mall made it easier for people to shop there, Ruby said. The mall expanded hours and offered more curbside pickup and dining takeout. More stores offered shopping by appointment and offered “buy online, pick-up in store” options, she said.

“We met the incredible demands of the past year with best-in-class hygiene and safety protocols, and by providing people with more ways to shop to meet their preferences,” Ruby said in a statement. “Trends that accelerated last year, including curbside pickup and [buy online, pick-up in store], are definitely here to stay.”

Danbury could also take advantage of its proximity to New York, he said.

“There may be some unique opportunities for Danbury to attract more clients from across the border,” McKinney said.

New businesses

In mid-December, the Barbarie family opened its third restaurant in the city at the mall. The new Barbarie’s Grill joins the family’s Jim Barbarie’s Restaurant and Barbarie’s Black Angus Grill.

Facing the challenges of running a restaurant in COVID-19, the family decided to do what it does best: open another restaurant, said Dean Barbarie, one of the owners.

“COVID really hit the restaurant industry significantly,” he said. “Brio(’s space at the mall) opened up and we rolled the dice. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you've got to do and try it.”

The big draw was that it’s a 500-seat restaurant, which made social distancing easier, Barbarie said.
“We had the ability to really spread people out and make them feel comfortable and safe,” he said.
Longhorn Steakhouse is expected to open this winter, adding more than 60 jobs locally, spokeswoman Brittany Baron said.

“We’ve received outstanding support from the community and look forward to serving expertly crafted steaks to guests once we open our doors,” she said in an email.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Dick’s Sporting Goods remodeled and expanded with an entrance inside the shopping center, Ruby said. Lovisa, a jewelry store, and Rainbow, a clothing retailer, also opened in 2020.

Charming Charlie, a women’s fashion retailer, opened last Friday. For this company, the opening is a homecoming. The retailer had once had a store at the Danbury Fair mall, spokeswoman Madelyn Fitzpatrick said.

“Danbury Mall was a very popular and frequented location in previous years for us/Charming Charlie,” she said in an email. “One of the main strategies for our return was focusing on markets that were historically very successful hence our return to Danbury. There are no significant changes in what fans can expect — we're still the fun, feminine, color-loving, women's accessories brand from before.”

In 2019, the Houston-based company filed for bankruptcy for the second time in less than two years and was expected to close 261 stores nationwide. But the retailer is making a comeback, with plans this year to open 14 locations in New York, California, Texas and the Midwest.

The store at the Danbury Fair mall is Charming Charlie’s only Connecticut location.

So far in 2021, FYE, an entertainment store, and Athleta, a woman’s apparel and gear store, have opened at the Danbury Fair mall. Newbury Comics is coming, Ruby said.

Danbury Fair is owned by Macerich, which owns, operates and develops major retail and mixed-use real estate in the country. The company is able to attract companies through “relationship building,” Ruby said.

“That’s what we have great strength in,” she said. “It’s a proven success story. Danbury Fair is a proven success story that bodes well for anyone looking for space in the market. We are the destination retail hub in the market.”

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June 9, 2021

News
Danbury Mall Announces 2 New Restaurants, More Retail Stores

Rich Kirby, Patch Staff | Posted Wed, Jun 9, 2021 at 4:32 pm ET

Danbury Mall Announces 2 New Restaurants, More Retail Stores

DANBURY, CT — The Danbury Fair Mall has started site construction for two restaurants new to the local market.

Shake Shack and LongHorn Steakhouse will be the first ground-up construction at the mall since 1991.

California-based Macerich, which operates the Danbury Fair, also announced 2021 would see the openings of Athleta, Barbarie's Fitness Evolution gym, Charming Charlie, FYE, Newbury Comics and Urban Outfitters.

Maura Ruby, the senior property manager for the mall, said its retailers netted a strong 2020 holiday shopping season despite the coronavirus pandemic by modifying traditional in-person shopping experience. These modifications included expanded property hours, more curbside pickup and dining takeout, more buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS), and more stores offering shopping by appointment, both virtually and in person.

"Trends that accelerated last year, including curbside pickup and BOPIS, are definitely here to stay," said Ruby.

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June 8, 2021

News
Unemployment Decreases In Danbury Area: Feds

Rich Scinto, Patch Staff | Posted Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 4:48 pm ET

Unemployment Decreases In Danbury Area: Feds

DANBURY, CT — The latest national unemployment and jobs figures portray a labor market that is moving closer to normal, but the country still has a record number of job openings.

The unemployment rate in the Danbury area has seen a little improvement since the beginning of the pandemic and there was some improvement from March to April, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fairfield County's unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in April, which was down from 8.1 percent in March. That reflected barely any improvement from April 2020, when the unemployment rate stood at 8.2 percent.

Fairfield County's April unemployment rate is lower than Connecticut's 7.6 percent rate, according to the latest local figures from the BLS.

The United States added 559,000 non-farm jobs in May, and the unemployment rate declined 0.3 percentage points to 5.8 percent.

Initial weekly unemployment claims in late May dropped to the lowest level since March 14, 2020, according to the BLS. There were about 385,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims, which was a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week; it also marked the fifth consecutive week of declines. 

The country hasn't fully recovered from the pandemic. Payroll employment is down 5 percent from pre-pandemic levels. The number of long-term unemployed people fell 431,000 in May to 3.8 million, but that is still up from 2.6 million in February 2020.

The labor force participation rate was 61.6 percent, which has been nearly constant since June 2020 and is about 1.7 percentage points lower than in February 2020.

Job openings remain plentiful, with a record 8.1 million job openings across the country at the end of March — led the way by the sectors for food service and accommodation, local and government education and arts, entertainment and recreation. The number of layoffs reached a record low of 1.5 million, according to BLS.

Around 15.4 million people across the country were receiving some form of unemployment aid for the week ending May 15 — a decrease of 366,000 from the previous week. Around 30.7 million weekly claims were filed for the same week in 2020.

Editor's note: This post was automatically generated using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program. Please report any errors or other feedback to content@patch.com.

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June 2, 2021

News
Danbury's new fire chief's experience started when he was 8 years old

Julia Perkins | June 2, 2021 - Updated: June 3, 2021 7:20 a.m.


Danbury's new fire chief's experience started when he was 8 years old

DANBURY — Richard Thode was 8 when he wrote a letter to his volunteer fire department on Long Island saying he wanted to be a firefighter.

The volunteers told him to come to the firehouse. He did on Memorial Day 1973.

He came back the next day. And the next.

“I loved the excitement, the camaraderie, everything that came with it” Thode said. “I loved that whole culture, just never looked back because I loved every minute of it.”

Thode has been named the new fire chief in Danbury. The City Council unanimously approved his appointment on Tuesday evening. He starts June 28.

He has worked for Ridgefield’s fire department and for 34 years in the Bridgeport Fire Department, the last five years as Bridgeport’s fire chief.

The assessment company that worked with Danbury in the search process told city officials that Thode was the “best candidate they had seen ever,” Mayor Joe Cavo said.

“He has vast experience with volunteers, as well as career firefighters,” Cavo said. “He’s well recognized throughout the region as one of the leading chiefs.”

The extensive search attracted candidates from halfway across the country, but Danbury didn’t need to look far to find Thode, Cavo said. The new chief lives in Bethel, but is required to move to Danbury within six months, Thode said.

Thode and his wife, Julie, will celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary in September and have three adult children: Jeffrey, 30, Mollie, 27, and Erik, 25

A ‘fair,’ ‘honest,’ leader

Thode knows many of the Danbury firefighters because he used to teach firefighting in the area.

“It’s exciting because it’s new, but it’s not scary because I’m not going to a place full of strangers,” he said.

Thode takes over for interim Chief Kevin Ford, who replaced acting Chief Mark Omasta after his retirement in January. Omasta was put in charge when former Chief TJ Wiedl retired last July.

Deputy Fire Chief Steve Williams plans to retire soon, too. Internal staff have or will take the assessment test to be considered for promotion to that position, as well as assistant chief and captain openings, Thode said.

Thode noted it’s a similar problem he faced last year when 14 firefighters retired in Bridgeport.

“I’m not unfamiliar with how this goes,” he said.

Danbury’s fire department has fewer staff than Bridgeport, Thode said.

“One of the things about being the chief of Danbury is you’re certainly more hands-on, which is one of the other things I’m looking forward to,” he said.

In Bridgeport, Thode focused on improving health and safety for firefighters, he said.

He significantly reduced the number of grievance complaints from employees. Before he became chief, a year of grievance complaints took up a full file cabinet. Five years worth of complaints from his time as chief don’t fill half a drawer, he said.

Thode said he strives to be “fair” and “honest” with his firefighters.

“It’s open and honest communication, treating people fairly, holding them accountable — not in a tyrant way, (but) treating them like adults,” he said.

Thode told Danbury during his interview that he would anonymously survey the firefighters to see what they like and dislike to form a game plan for the department, Cavo said.

“He’s a great manager,” the mayor said. “He’s great with his employees, and he’s got great negotiating skills. I’m sure he’s going to put them all to use here in Danbury.”

Looking ahead

Danbury plans to look into what improvements are needed at its fire stations, including the 50-year-old headquarters.

Thode has experience in that, too, he said. He was station captain when a new firehouse was built in Bridgeport and was a volunteer when Stony Hill Fire Department in Bethel built its new headquarters in the early 2000s.

He expects his time as a volunteer firefighter will give him “credibility” when he works with Danbury’s volunteer fire companies, which are consolidating.

“I know first-hand the struggles — that not just Danbury, everywhere, — the volunteer departments are having,” he said. “Their recent consolidation with the forming of the battalions shows their certainly cognizant of their struggles and they’ve made some huge steps toward addressing that.”

Not only was he a volunteer firefighter as a child on Long Island, he served as a volunteer in Ridgefield as a high school senior. Since 1995, he has volunteered with training and other work for the Stony Hill Fire Department in Bethel.

As a child, Thode said he was at the firehouse every day in the summer. During the school year, he went on Thursday drill nights and was there on Sunday mornings.

He rode his bike to nearby calls. For calls too far away to bike to, he closed the firehouse doors behind the exiting apparatuses and watched the station. Sometimes, he rode in the chief’s car to fires.

“I literally lived in that firehouse,” Thode said.

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May 21, 2021

News
Danbury's Labor Force is Making a Comeback

Danbury Unemployment Rate Ranks Among the Lowest in the Top 10 Largest Labor Force

Bureau of Labor Statistics data | Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) Program | Updated: May 21, 2021 

Danbury's Unemployment Rate  (6.6%) is the lowest among Connecticut cities with a Labor Force of greater than 40,000 as of May 2021.  This is a strong comeback given the economic conditions impacted by the pandemic since February 2020. It is a sign of economic stimulation, people returning back to work, and industry creating new jobs.

Current Labor Force Data for CT Towns (LAUS) - State of Connecticut  5/21/2021

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May 21, 2021

News
Ocean State Job Lot Open For Business At Danbury Fair Mall

The discount closeout retailer has filled the space vacated by Toys 'R Us.

DANBURY, CT — Ocean State Job Lot has opened at at the Danbury Fair Mall, in the space that formerly housed a Toys 'R Us store.

The store has already hired nearly 50 full- and part-time employees.

The privately held discount closeout retailer is headquartered in Rhode Island with stores throughout New England, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. It has annual sales of approximately $800 million., according to a news release. The 45,000 sq. ft. Danbury site is its 145th store, and 29th in Connecticut.

"We're looking forward to sharing Ocean State Job Lot's unique shopping experience with our new neighbors in Danbury," said Rich Stomski, store team leader,

Store hours are currently 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The store is hosting a shopping hour for those at higher risk of COVID-19, including customers ages 60 and above, every Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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May 13, 2021

News
Danbury schools to open fully in fall, including use of Brookfield school for kindergarten

Julia Perkins | May 13, 2021 Updated:  May 13, 2021 11:47 a.m.

Danbury schools to open fully in fall, including use of Brookfield school for kindergarten

DANBURY — The school board has approved a plan that will get all students back in school full-time in the fall.

The board voted unanimously on Wednesday evening to support the administration’s $5.98 million proposal to lease a Catholic school in Brookfield, purchase additional furniture and hire more staff to accommodate the roughly 12,000 student body in the district’s overcrowded buildings.

“Of course, we need to fully reopen schools, no doubt in my mind,” board member Rachel Chaleski said. “That's been the message from the state level all year long. I’m glad we’re making it work.”

Under the plan, about 240 kindergartners from three elementary schools with the tightest space constrictions will be bused to St. Joseph Catholic Academy in Brookfield, a Catholic school that closed last year.

About 37 employees would be hired to staff the Brookfield school and move the high school to an eight-period day that would reduce class sizes.

Desks will be purchased at the elementary and secondary schools to allow students to be the three feet apart in the classrooms, per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heated tents are also needed to extend the cafeteria at the high school and potentially Broadview Middle School.

Danbury schools will not offer distance learning on a regular basis, although Chaleski argued virtual instruction should not fall by the wayside.

“I’m not suggesting that it remain in its current form just that we should recognize the innovation of what happened,” she said. “When we first launched DL [distance learning], I thought this would change education forever.”

She suggested virtual learning be used to mitigate learning loss over the summer.

The district is exploring how to use technology moving forward, said Kara Casimiro, the director of teaching and learning. This could mean offering virtual after-school programs. This would make these programs accessible to students at home who cannot stay after school because they don’t have a ride home, she said.

“It’s convenient for the teacher,” Casimiro said. “It's convenient for the students. We’re likely to get more engagement.”

It’s possible the district could offer remote learning in lieu of snow days, although the state has not said whether this will be allowed, Superintendent Sal Pascarella said. The board could decide to offer the first few inclement weather days as traditional snow days, but move to distance learning for others, he said.

“We don’t have air conditioning in the schools,” he said. “It’s very difficult late June, so that’s an issue for us.”

Danbury students were on full distance learning for about half the school year due to concerns about COVID-19 and are on the hybrid model for the rest of this year. Thirty-five percent of students opted to remain on full-time distance learning.

“It's really all about the balance of the virtual use,” Casimiro said. “I think we were at a point where the pendulum had swung so severely. It’s really about where can we instill innovative practice in our teaching and learning environments that maximize what we’re trying to do, using the digital technology that we’ve now become familiar with.”

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May 9, 2021

News
Danbury City Council Approves $267M Budget: No Tax Increase

Rich Kirby, Patch Staff | Posted Sun, May 9, 2021 at 7:49 pm ET| Updated Sun, May 9, 2021 at 7:50 pm ET

Danbury City Council Approves $267M Budget: No Tax Increase

DANBURY, CT — The City Council approved the mayor's 2021-22 budget, which leaves the city's tax rate unchanged for the third straight year.

The lion's share of the $267 million spending plan is earmarked for the schools. The Board of Education will receive $136.9 million, an increase of $1.25 million (0.92 percent) above the current budget. That's less than the 149.6 million the Board had proposed, but the schools will also be enriched by other sources for the 2021-22 school year, including $5.1 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Relief Fund and $38 million under the American Rescue Plan Act.

Most of the spending lines suffered only modest increases, except for "Pension and Other Benefits" where the burn will be going up by 7.11 percent.

In his presentation of the budget, Mayor Joe Cavo said: "The annual funding of education has increased by $55.3 million or 68.5% over the past two decades. I am proud of the accomplishments of our school system and remain confident that the budget increases of the past have set a strong foundation for its continued success."

In a statement following the City Council's narrow vote of approval for the budget, City Councilman and mayoral candidate Roberto Alves said: "We know that the key to a good education and a prosperous future starts with adequate funding. We also know that good schools pave the way for a vibrant local economy, good jobs, and higher property values. We've seen the ripple effects when we don't adequately fund our schools and local infrastructure. If Danbury wants to become a regional economic driver, we have to invest in our city, from our classrooms to our roads, from our bridges to our storm drains."

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May 7, 2021

News
Danbury Restaurant Shutters To Make Way For IHOP

Rich Kirby, Patch Staff | Posted Fri, May 7, 2021 at 11:57 am ET| Updated Fri, May 7, 2021 at 3:34 pm ET

Danbury Restaurant Shutters To Make Way For IHOP

DANBURY, CT — An International House of Pancakes will be moving into space vacated by Pizzeria Mazzo Mozzarella and Wine Bar, the News-Times is reporting.

The high-end Italian eatery had been in business at its 32 Newtown Road location since 2014.

Owner Artan Ismaili told the News-Times he would be opening a new location in Shelton next month.

The new Danbury IHOP will join the pancake eatery's existing Connecticut locations in

For more, see the story in the News-Times.

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April 22, 2021

News
Danbury Among Most Diverse Cities In US: Report

Rich Kirby, Patch Staff | Posted Thu, Apr 22, 2021 at 8:25 am ET

Danbury Among Most Diverse Cities In US: Report

Hat City came in at No. 10 overall, and No. 3 among small cities, in the 2021 rankings.

DANBURY, CT — The city has been named to the list of top ten Most Diverse Cities in America, by personal finance website WalletHub.

Danbury came in at No. 10 on the list, but in the category of "small cities," the city ranked third most diverse, behind Gaithersburg and Silver Springs, both in Maryland.

To determine the places in the U.S. with the most mixed demographics, WalletHub compared the profiles of over 501 of the largest cities across five major diversity categories: socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household and religious.

Although the advantages of living among a diverse populace are obvious, one expert cited by WalletHub hinted at a hidden faultline:

"I would look closely at class or income diversity and question what exactly this means (e.g., some people living in high rises and others living on the street or in shelters) and consider that, on the one hand, income diversity means people from different walks of life may bring in the expertise of and from their own backgrounds. On the other hand, we might question the morality of such inequality," wrote Vanessa Gonlin, an assistant professor at the Institute for Women's Studies, University of Georgia.

See the complete report on the WallteHub website.

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April 15, 2021

News
Danbury Area Home Prices Up In Past Year

Local Data, Patch Staff  | Posted Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 2:48 pm ET

Danbury Area Home Prices Up In Past Year

Here is how much home prices have changed over the past year in Fairfield County area.

DANBURY, CT — Higher home prices are here to stay, at least for the next couple of years, experts say.

The coronavirus pandemic helped push home prices higher, but it isn't the only factor responsible for the market shift. The number of homes listed for sale is at a historic low, meaning that supply is tight. Meanwhile, demand has increased because of historically low mortgage interest rates and because a large contingent of millennials is looking to buy their first homes.

Home prices in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk CT Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Fairfield County, were up 16.6 percent for January 2021 compared with January 2020, according to the CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index, an oft-quoted measure of price movements over time.

Metropolitan statistical areas, micropolitan statistical areas and divisions are a product of the U.S. Census Bureau and are used to designate areas with strong economic ties; they contain one or more counties depending on population density.

Prices in the bottom third (less than $458,000) of the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk CT Metropolitan Statistical Area market — often designated as starter homes —increased 13 percent year over year. The top third of the market (homes over $766,000) saw a 20 percent increase.

The Flagstaff, Arizona, metropolitan area saw the biggest year-over-year increase in January, at 24.1 percent, followed by the Boise, Idaho, area at 22.2 percent and the Bend-Redmond, Oregon, area at 22.1 percent.

Less than 1 percent of metro areas saw a year-over-year price decrease, according to the Case-Shiller Index.

Spring 2021 is poised to be the most competitive home buying season in decades. A recent analysis of Realtor.com listings by the National Association of Realtors found that 64 percent of metro areas posted double-digit increases in year-over-year median listing price. Only 1 percent of metro areas had more active listings on Realtor.com in March 2021 than in March 2020.

A number of factors led to the historic ramp-up in home prices, said Gay Cororaton, director of housing and commercial research for the National Association of Realtors.

The main factor has been the historic lack of supply in the housing market, Cororaton said. Inventory is at its lowest point since 1982.

It could be some time before the housing market returns to a sense of normalcy, she said. The current inventory is about two months of housing supply; supply and demand are closer in sync when there is a six-month supply.

"I think it will take time to do that," Cororaton said. "At least in the next two years, I would expect we would be running around two to four months of supply."

One reason for the housing shortage is a slowdown in new housing construction. There were 1.4 million new housing construction starts in February 2021, compared with 1.6 million in February 2020, Cororaton said. The high cost of lumber is one factor in that decline.

The pandemic has also made homeowners wary of letting potential buyers into their homes for showings or open houses, Cororaton said.

Historically low mortgage rates have pushed up the demand side of the equation, Cororaton said. Rates aren't expected to rise above 4 percent in the next two years, which means borrowing will remain affordable.

The National Association of Realtors monthly survey of its members found that four buyers are competing for every home sold, compared with three buyers at the same time last year.

Demographic change is one more factor, Cororaton said, as growing numbers of millennials become interested in owning homes.

Editor's note: This post was automatically generated using an analysis of the Case-Shiller Index data from CoreLogic Inc. by The Associated Press. Please report any errors or other feedback to content@patch.com.

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March 26, 2021

News
Danbury Launches New Plan of Conservation and Development

Rich Kirby, Patch Staff | Posted Fri, Mar 26, 2021 at 10:27 am ET

Danbury Launches New Plan of Conservation and Development

Organizers will be conducting virtual public meetings to explore land use and zoning, housing and development, and infrastructure issues and needs beginning this summer​. (Shutterstock)

DANBURY, CT — The city has launched an update of its Plan of Conservation and Development, intended to guide it in making policy decisions related to housing, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, facilities, open space, and both historic/cultural and environmental resources.

An update of the plan is required by state statutes every decade. The last plan was adopted in 2013. This update is expected to continue through 2022 and will culminate in a new plan, beginning in 2023.

The schedule and format of community engagement events are still being developed, with COVID-19 restrictions and protocols under consideration in terms of event planning, according to a news release from the Office of the Mayor.

"Multiple opportunities for the community to participate in the Plan update process will be provided this year and in 2022," said Sharon Calitro, the city's Planning Director. "We look forward to a transparent and participatory process as we establish a vision for the future and develop goals and recommendations to address Danbury's needs moving into the future."

According to the plan's recently launched website, organizers will be conducting virtual public meetings to explore land use and zoning, housing and development, and infrastructure issues and needs beginning this summer

The plan update is being led by the city's Department of Planning and Zoning and guided by an Oversight Committee comprised of Planning Commissioners, representatives from other city departments and commissions, and outside organizations. FHI Studio of Hartford is the lead consultant and is working with the Oversight Committee and Danbury city government.

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March 25, 2021

Press Release
Danbury Health Department Administers 10,000th Injection At Rogers Park Clinic

Office of the Mayor
City of Danbury, CT
Contact: Taylor O’Brien 203-797-4511
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 25, 2021


Danbury Health Department Administers 10,000th Injection At Rogers Park Clinic


DANBURY, CT – Since the start of the pandemic, the Danbury Department of Health & Human Services has served as a resource to the Danbury community for information and guidance. In December 2020, the Department took on an even greater challenge when it opened a COVID19 vaccination clinic.

The clinic at Rogers Park, led by the Acting Health Director Kara Prunty and Associate Director of Health Fernanda Carvalho, has just today administered its 10,000th injection. The clinic is supported by the Health Department staff, local volunteers, the Danbury Police Department and Police Cadets, Western CT State University’s nursing program, and local RNs who have taken on the additional hours to vaccinate our community.

Danbury’s Health Department was amongst the very first municipal department in the State to open a vaccination clinic.

“When we realized there was an opportunity to receive doses and start vaccinating our first responders, my staff didn’t question whether or not we could handle it, they just asked ‘when can we start?’,” said Kara Prunty, Acting Director of Health & Human Services. “Our motivation to vaccinate our community hasn’t changed from the 75+ population to teachers, we are here to help fill this need for Danbury, as are our partners at CIFC, CHC, and Nuvance Health.”

Outside of VAMS, the Danbury Health Department Clinic has found alternative avenues to reach vulnerable populations. They have worked with the Senior Center and other local agencies/senior living facilities to schedule Danbury seniors, and have offered trilingual forms on the City website to better communicate appointment opportunities to our Spanish and Portuguese speaking residents. The clinic’s dose allotment is decided by the State of CT on a weekly basis, which determines available appointment times.

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March 25, 2021

Press Release
DANBURY LAUNCHES POCD UPDATE: Danbury’s 2023 Plan of Conservation and Development

Office of the Mayor
City of Danbury, CT
Contact: Taylor O’Brien 203-797-4511
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 25, 2021


DANBURY LAUNCHES POCD UPDATE Danbury’s 2023 Plan of Conservation and Development


Danbury, CT- The City of Danbury is pleased to announce it has officially launched an update of its Plan of Conservation and Development. “This is a major planning undertaking, is timely for the City of Danbury, and is required by State statutes,” said Mayor Joe Cavo. The Plan will guide the City in making policy decisions related to housing, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, facilities, open space, and both historic/cultural and environmental resources. An update of the Plan is required at least once every ten years. The last Plan was adopted in 2013. This update is expected to continue through 2022 and will culminate in a 2023 Plan.

“Multiple opportunities for the community to participate in the Plan update process will be provided this year and in 2022,” said Sharon Calitro, the City’s Planning Director. “We look forward to a transparent and participatory process as we establish a vision for the future and develop goals and recommendations to address Danbury’s needs moving into the future.” The schedule and format of community engagement events are still being developed, with COVID19 restrictions and protocols under consideration in terms of event planning. The Plan’s website www.danburypocd.com, recently launched, provides more detail on the project including a description of Plan elements, project schedule, presentation materials and meeting notes, announcements of meetings and events, and a link on how to stay connected.

The Plan update is being led by the City’s Department of Planning and Zoning and guided by an Oversight Committee comprised of Planning Commissioners, representatives from other City departments and commissions, and outside organizations. FHI Studio of Hartford is the lead consultant and is working closely with the Oversight Committee and the City.

Inquiries can be directed to Sharon Calitro, Director of Planning & Zoning at s.calitro@danburyct.gov.

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February 4, 2021

Press Release
Danbury Health Department Increases Outreach to Seniors without Email Access

Office of the Mayor
City of Danbury, CT
For Immediate Release: February 4, 2021
Media Contact: Taylor O’Brien, 203-797-4511


Danbury Health Department Increases Outreach to Seniors without Email Access


Danbury, CT - The City of Danbury Department of Health and Human Services is actively vaccinating area residents 75+ at the Danbury Health Department Clinic.

In an effort to support Danbury residents 75+ who have had technological challenges with the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS), including those who do not have access to the internet/email, the Health Department is calling residents directly to schedule appointments at the Danbury Health Department Clinic.

If you know an eligible individual aged 75+ who cannot access email or the VAMS system, please assist them in filling out this form (Spanish & Portuguese translations are included within the form):

https://www.cognitoforms.com/DanburyHealthDepartment/Residents75WhoDoNotHaveAccessToEmail

Eligible individuals will receive a call from the Danbury Health Department to schedule their appointment over the phone.

The Danbury Health Department Clinic is open by appointment only for eligible individuals in 1a and 1b (75+ only). The clinic is only administering the Moderna vaccine. Eligible individuals with internet access and email addresses should book their appointments through VAMS if possible.

Residents 75+ can also schedule over the phone by calling the CT COVID Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224. The Vaccine Appointment Assist Line is available seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Residents who call the CT COVID Vaccine Line can ask to schedule their appointment at the Danbury Health Department Clinic.

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February 4, 2021

News
Community policing credited for Danbury's 21 percent drop in crime in 2020

Rob Ryser | Feb. 3, 2021 | Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 8:33 p.m.

Community policing credited for Danbury's 21 percent drop in crime in 2020


DANBURY —The city’s 21 percent drop in major crime in 2020 may need an asterisk to indicate the stifling effect COVID-19 had on public activity, but the mayor says the police department’s relationship with residents deserves all the credit.

“I must applaud Chief [Patrick] Ridenhour and the Danbury Police Department for their community policing approach,” Mayor Joe Cavo said Tuesday. “It’s that continued leadership that allows us to remain one of the safest cities in Connecticut.”

Cavo is referring to police department data released Tuesday that shows a total of 703 crimes in eight major categories in 2020, compared to 891 crimes in the same eight categories in 2019.

For context, 2019 represented a 16 percent decrease in Danbury crime over the previous year.

While quarantines and lockdowns associated with the coronavirus during much of 2020 meant fewer people in public circulation and certainly accounted for some of Danbury’s decreased crime, it didn’t account for all of it, city leaders noted.

Danbury has seen double-digit, year-over-year decreases in major crime in five of the last six years, bolstering its reputation as one of Connecticut’s safest cities.

City leaders credit police department leadership and its law enforcement philosophy. Police credit the strong work ethic of residents.

“The crime rates are certainly an attractive draw for new businesses and families who want to move into Danbury,” Cavo said. “We take great pride in being a safe city with a business-friendly community.”

The police department data, which is compiled monthly and is not official until audited by the state, tracks crime in eight categories — murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

The latest numbers show that homicides were relatively high with four in 2020 in a city where homicides are infrequent. The figures showed slight increases in robberies and assaults in 2020 compared to 2019. In all other categories, 2020 crime was down over 2019, including a 24 percent drop in thefts.

The police department submits monthly data to the City Council about calls for service, accidents and traffic stops.

COVID-19 perhaps most affected traffic stops, which were down 47 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

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January 25, 2021

Press Release
Danbury Hires Interim Fire Chief to Lead DFD

Office of the Mayor City of Danbury, CT

Contact: Taylor O’Brien 203-797-4511

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 25, 2021


Danbury Hires Interim Fire Chief to Lead DFD

Danbury, CT - The City of Danbury is pleased to announce the hiring of Kevin Ford as Interim Fire Chief for the City of Danbury. Chief Ford will begin a six-month term with the Danbury Fire Department on Tuesday, January 26.

Chief Ford comes to Danbury from the City of Yonkers where he has served for 26 years and rose. He has been a Deputy Chief within the department of Yonkers since 2015. Chief Ford carries a Bachelor of Business Administration from Iona College, and is certified in all hazard emergency response.

Chief Ford’s management and leadership skills will make an invaluable addition to the DFD, and an ideal candidate for this interim leadership position. The City of Danbury is in the process of hiring a Fire Chief after the departure of Chief Wiedl in July 2020 and Acting Chief Mark Omasta in January 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person interviews have been suspended delaying the hiring process for this position.

“Chief Ford is a seasoned public servant with several years of leadership and management experience,” said Mayor Joe Cavo. “I know he is the right person to take on this position, and I look forward to witnessing the great work our Fire Department does each day in the City of Danbury.”

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January 13, 2021

Press Release
Mayor Cavo Announces Danbury Career Academy Steering Committee

Office of the Mayor City of Danbury, CT

Contact: Taylor O’Brien 203-797-4511

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 13, 2021


Mayor Cavo Announces Danbury Career Academy Steering Committee


Mayor Joe Cavo has announced the formation of a volunteer steering committee for the proposed Danbury Career Academy.

The steering committee will be chaired by former Mayor Mark Boughton, who has been actively involved in each developmental stage of this project.

Steering committee members:

Dr. Sal Pascarella, Superintendent of Danbury Public Schools

Antonio Iadarola, Public Works Director

Courtney LeBorious, DPS Director of Finance and Operations

David St. Hilaire, Director of Finance

Sharon Calitro, Director of Planning

Dean Esposito, Chief of Staff to the Mayor

Fred Visconti, City Council Member

Dan Petrovich, Engineer for the City of Danbury

“The Career Academy will make a great addition to our public schools,” said Mayor Joe Cavo. “It is truly an exciting opportunity for our students to find careers they may not otherwise be exposed to. The plan with the Summit and the State’s reimbursement allows us to gain the critical infrastructure we need without hurting the pockets of our taxpayers.”

The proposed concept for the Danbury Career Academy would provide Danbury Public School students in grades 6-12 with a unique opportunity to explore career options through hands-on experience. The proposed location for the public school is at the Summit building.

The City of Danbury will ask residents to vote on the funding for this project via a referendum planned for June. The project, estimated at $93 million, would be reimbursed by the State of CT at 80% (~$75 million). The Danbury Board of Education is currently working on the curriculum development for the proposed academy.

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October 23, 2020

News
Amazon delivery station opens in Danbury with more than 100 jobs expected to be filled

DANBURY — Amazon has opened its new delivery station on Old Sherman Turnpike this week, promising to fill more than 100 jobs which could be a boon to the local economy.

The arrival of additional work opportunities in a time when unemployment numbers are high — officially 7.8 percent in Connecticut for September — is a plus for the state, said Brian Marks, the University of New Haven’s executive director of its Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers showed Connecticut had a 7.8 percent unemployment rate in September. But the true unemployment rate is estimated to be higher than that, Marks pointed out — the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Office of Research approximated it was actually in “the range of 12 percent-13 percent” during the same span the BLS looked at, which differs due to some misclassification issues.

With the pandemic continuing, Marks said he expected the Danbury Fair Mall and other retail stores would’ve “seen a significant decline in foot traffic,” meaning an increase in unemployment.

“So, it does soften that blow, it doesn’t make it any easier for anyone, but it does provide opportunity,” said Marks, a senior lecturer in UNH’s business school. “In the longer term, this station is yet another signal of how Amazon is transforming the landscape that has been, that is now accelerated by this public health crisis, pandemic, and its economic-induced prices.”

As people become increasingly comfortable with online shopping, Marks said “it strongly suggests that there will be a level of inertia that once things open up, people will still feel comfortable purchasing more and more goods online.”

“Amazon is positioning itself for that very purpose,” he said.

With the new facility creating more than 100 jobs for associates with pay at a minimum of $15 per hour, according to a news release, Marks said “one could argue” the amount of pay could “put pressure on its competitors to do the same.” As of Sept. 1, the state’s minimum wage is $12 per hour.

“It could create, although with our current unemployment situation not likely, but as the public health crisis dissipates, people may be less likely to move from an Amazon job to some other opportunity because of the stability of the employment,” he said. “So, it could create some friction and shortages in other areas, but that’s in the longer term.”

“Hundreds” of driver positions are expected to be created, as well as entrepreneurship opportunities for people “to build their own business delivering Amazon packages,” according to a news release.

“Expanding with the delivery network, the delivery location network, in Connecticut, is a good thing for Amazon and it’s a good thing for its customers,” said Mary Meixell, an associate dean and professor of management for Quinnipiac University’s business school. “They’re promising a higher level of service to the customers with one-day delivery and with additional services like taking a photograph of the packages that’s dropped at your doorstep.”

The company has come under fire for its labor practices. In March, CNBC reported some workers told the network they were “terrified to go to work during the pandemic.” And in April, the Washington Post reported a couple employees — who had condemned Amazon warehouse conditions and criticized other policies — lost their jobs.

Since Amazon is so large, Marks said its business practices would draw more attention — and with more attention, comes more scrutiny.

“One could argue that could, assuming there are other opportunities, create an incentive for Amazon to do the right thing, so to speak,” he said. “There’s increased anti-trust scrutiny on Amazon, there’s increased employment, labor practices on Amazon, and we’ll have to see how all that unfolds.”

At the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce’s meeting last week, Mayor Mark Boughton said the city was “excited” about the station’s arrival.

“Anytime that we can build a facility for a blue chip company like that, it’s a success for all of us,” he said.

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January 21, 2020

News
Danbury's Unemployment Rate Continues to Improve!

The City of Danbury's unemployment rate continues its steady ascent remain among the lowest in the State of Connecticut.  As of November 2019, it dropped to 2.8% from 2.7% in October and 3.0% in July 2019. Danbury continues trending below the State's level. The State of Connecticut unemployment rate is 3.3% as of November 2019.

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October 17, 2019

News
Fitch Rates Danbury, CT's $50MM Ser 2019B GO Bonds 'AAA'; Outlook Stable

Please view the article by clicking the link.

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October 10, 2019

News
Millennials Are Coming Back Home to Danbury. Now What?

A top commercial real estate developer predicts an influx of young home buyers — but only if we play our cards right.

DANBURY, CT — The popular, and more often than not, angry, opinion about living in the greater Danbury area is that everyone is fleeing for lower taxed pastures.

Jim Fagan, senior managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, one of the world's largest commercial real estate businesses with properties throughout southwestern Connecticut, has a different perspective. He believes that the generation of millennials that moved away to college and never returned to their roots is about to make a big comeback. They're getting older, and the allure of Brooklyn and Boston has begun to dim.

"There's probably no place better to raise your kids than Westchester or Fairfield counties. You have four seasons, you're close to Manhattan, you have the Long Island Sound, you can go skiing in a couple of hours, a great public schools system, all these wonderful things. Where would you rather raise a family?" Fagan said. "The economics dictate you come out and find some places that are a little less expensive to live, and also have great public schools, a little bit more space to live."

Although the geography and the lower costs are attractive to the former big-city-dwellers, Fagan says many of the towns are going to need to alter their mindset if they hope to lure millennials back home.

By Rich Kirby, Patch Staff  | Aug 30, 2019 7:25 pm ET | Updated Aug 30, 2019 7:36 pm ET

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October 10, 2019

News
Danbury's Unemployment Rate Ranks Among Lowest in CT

Danbury Unemployment Rate: Among the Lowest in CT: Current Labor Force Data for CT Towns - State of CT - September 20, 2019

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data extracted September 20, 2019, Danbury's Unemployment Rate is among the lowest among Connecticut cities with a Labor Force of greater than 40,000 as of August 2019, with a rate of 2.9%.  

Danbury's rate dropped from 3.2% in June 2019 and 3.0% in July 2019. In comparison, the State of Connecticut unemployment rate is 3.6% as of August 2019, 3.7% in June 2019 and 3.6% in July 2019. Danbury continues trending below the State's level.

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October 3, 2019

News
Danbury Shines Again with a Healthy Drop in Crime.

The numbers say it all. According to a NewsTimes article from October 2, 2019, during the first eight months of 2019, there were 644 major crimes in Danbury. In 2018 there were 784 major crimes during the same time period. Do the math and that's an 18% drop.

[Danbury Police Dept. FB Photo]

Major crimes are defined as homicide, forcible rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Danbury Mayor, Mark Boughton remarked, "We are very proud of those numbers. We have great officers, great detectives, and a great chief who all work together to make it happen".

During the month of June, the crime rate as a whole showed a 25% decline and motor vehicle thefts dropped 66%. That's a major win. City Council president, Joseph Cavo told the NewsTimes, "I think it primarily has to do with the great work of the police department and its leadership. We are very fortunate".

ETHAN CAREY | October 3, 2019

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September 3, 2019

News
$4 Million Streetscape Renaissance Project Set for Danbury Read More: $4 Million Streetscape Renaissance Project Set for Danbury

The median home value in Danbury is $284,500. Danbury home values have gone up 1.9% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 0.6% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Danbury is $191, which is lower than the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk Metro average of $263. The median price of homes currently listed in Danbury is $329,000. The median rent price in Danbury is $1,750, which is lower than the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk Metro median of $2,800.

The work on phase one of Danbury's Streetscape Renaissance Project could begin as early as this November.

City Hall's streetscape project to enhance the appearance of downtown Danbury was just awarded a four million dollar grant from the state. Danbury Mayor, Mark Bougton says, "We're going to get a lot done with this project" according to an article in the newstimes.com.

The area targeted for this portion of downtown Danbury's revitalization includes the Main St. and the Kennedy Avenue area along with the streets surrounding the CityCenter Green and the Danbury Ice Arena. ultimate objective of the project is to bring Main St. back to the height of its prosperity. Some of the early improvements include replacing its asphalt-patched sidewalks with scored concrete and granite inlays and installing larger tree planters to make room for decorative plantings and there's much more to come.

But as the news-times printed, "_The reality is that Main St. is a neighborhood of mixed signals" and _I agree. How do you bring back the glory days of Main Street when it was king? The City of Danbury is ranked as 'The 4th Most Diverse Small City' in the country which Danburians take great pride in. For all the suggested improvements recommended in the 'Downtown Danbury Streetscape Renaissance Project, click on this link.

Is Danbury up to the challenge of re-energizing Main St. with the inclusion of the city's rich cultural heritage? If there's any one city in Connecticut that can make that happen, I'll put my money on the great City of Danbury!

Ethan Carey | September 3, 2019

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August 8, 2019

News
DANBURY TO MATCH FUNDRAISING EFFORTS FOR PEMBROKE PLAYGROUND

Office of the Mayor City of Danbury, CT

Contact: Taylor O’Brien 203-797-4511

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2019


DANBURY, CT – On August 8, the Danbury City Council approved Mayor Mark Boughton’s request to accept the $130,000 donation raised by teachers, parents and the Danbury community for a handicap-accessible playground at Pembroke Elementary School.

Mayor Boughton announced that he has been working with our Finance Department to find the necessary $140,000 needed to complete the project. These funds will come from the Open Space bond. The Department of Public Works will provide the labor for this project and plans to have it completed this fall.

Leigh Viviano, a special needs teacher at Pembroke Elementary School, helped lead the fundraising initiative that not only addressed repair needs, but also increased the number of ADA compliant playground equipment so that students with special needs could have a safe place to play.

“When I was approached about this project, I knew immediately that this was something we needed to make a reality. It took some thought and creativity, but we are proud to be able to provide the rest of the funding needed,” said Mayor Mark Boughton. “As Mayor, to see the kindness from residents and businesses who donated to this project, I am truly proud of Danbury’s sense of community action. We are excited to get this playground open and are hopeful that it will provide a safe, fun space for all of our students.” The playground will be available to the public after school hours and on weekends.

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July 15, 2019

Press Release
MAYOR BOUGHTON DECLARES NEWLY-ACQUIRED LAND AS PUBLIC SPACE

Office of the Mayor City of Danbury, CT                                                             

Contact: Taylor O’Brien 203-797-4511

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 15, 2019


27-acres of land to become passive recreation in Danbury DANBURY, CT – The City of Danbury, as the beneficiary of the Will/Estate of the late Mr. Victor G. Westman, has acquired a devise of property amounting to 26.99 acres. The property on 52 Bear Mountain Road is broken into five parcels, one containing the home of the late Mr. Westman.

From his last will and testament, Mr. Westman specifically left his property to the City of Danbury for open space and passive recreational purposes. The City is grateful for this addition to our ever-growing open space inventory, which also includes the recent acquisition of 65- acres on Long Ridge Road.

“I was able to sit down with Mr. Westman and visit his property on several occasions, and I couldn’t be more thankful for his decision to will it to the city. The land will be a wonderful space to picnic or hike with your family and we can’t wait to get started on it,” said Mayor Boughton.

To honor Mr. Westman’s legacy and thank him for his generous gifts, we have named the property Westman Park.

In addition to this property, Mr. Westman donated several books to the Danbury Railway Museum and the Danbury Public Library. He also left his two automobiles: 1928 Ford Coupe and 1930 Ford Sedan, to the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association. He had a passion for railroads and collected several items throughout his lifetime, all of which are now the property of the Danbury Railroad Museum.

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July 9, 2019

News
City of Danbury Bond Sale Scheduled for July 9th, 2019

The City of Danbury will issue BANs and Bonds July 9th, 2019.


$7,000,000 | General Obligation Bonds, Issue of 2019
Dated: Date of Delivery

Due: Serially on July 15, 2020-2029, as detailed inside this front cover.

The Bonds will bear interest payable January 15, 2020 and semiannually thereafter on July 15 and January 15 in
each year until maturity or earlier redemption. The Bonds are issuable only as fully registered bonds, without coupons, and, when issued, will be registered in the name of Cede & Co., as bondowner and nominee for The Depository Trust Company (''DTC''), New York, New York. DTC will act as securities depository for the Bonds. Purchases of the Bonds will be made in book-entry form, in the denomination of $5,000 or any integral multiple thereof. Purchasers will not receive certificates representing their ownership interest in the Bonds. So long as Cede & Co. is the Bondowner, as nominee of DTC, reference herein to the Bondowner or owners shall mean Cede & Co., as aforesaid, and shall not mean the Beneficial Owners (as defined herein) of the Bonds. See ''Book-Entry-Only Transfer System'' herein. 

The Bonds are subject to redemption prior to maturity as described herein. (See “Redemption Provisions”).

Electronic bids via PARITY for the Bonds will be received until 11:30 A.M. (E.D.T.) on Tuesday, July 9, 2019
at Danbury City Hall, Finance Department Conference Room, 155 Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury, Connecticut 06810.


$13,000,000
General Obligation Bond Anticipation Notes
Dated: July 18, 2019 Due: July 16, 2020

The Notes will be issued in book-entry-only form and will bear interest at such rate or rates per annum as are
specified by the successful bidder or bidders as set forth on the inside front cover, in accordance with the Notice of Sale dated July 1, 2019. The Notes, when issued, will be registered in the name of Cede & Co., as Noteowner and nominee for DTC, New York, New York. See "Book-Entry-Only Transfer System" herein. The Notes are NOT subject to redemption.

Sealed proposals and electronic bids via PARITY for the Notes will be received until 11:00 A.M. (E.D.T.) on
Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at Danbury City Hall, Finance Department Conference Room, 155 Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury, Connecticut 06810. Telephone bids will be received by an authorized agent of Phoenix Advisors, LLC, the City’s Municipal Advisor, until 11:00 A.M. on the day of the sale at 203-797-4652.

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June 18, 2019

News
City of Danbury's Preliminary Official Statement Available

The City of Danbury's Preliminary Official Statement, dated July 1, 2019 is available. 

Key Information:

General Obligation Bonds, Issue of 2019 : $7,000,000 (Due: Serially on July 15, 2020-2029)

Electronic bids via PARITY for the Bonds will be received until 11:30 A.M. (E.D.T.) on Tuesday, July 9, 2019
at Danbury City Hall, Finance Department Conference Room, 155 Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury, Connecticut 06810
.


_General Obligation Bond Anticipation Notes: $13,000,000 _ (Due: July 16, 2020)

Sealed proposals and electronic bids via PARITY for the Notes will be received until 11:00 A.M. (E.D.T.) on
Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at Danbury City Hall, Finance Department Conference Room, 155 Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury, Connecticut 06810. Telephone bids will be received by an authorized agent of Phoenix Advisors, LLC, the City’s Municipal Advisor, until 11:00 A.M. on the day of the sale at 203-797-4652
.


Please Note: The “Final Official Statement” will be posted no later than July 1st, 2019.

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June 17, 2019

News
6-Story Apartment Complex Planned for Main Street in Danbury Read More: 6-Story Apartment Complex Planned for Main Street in Danbury

Brand new one and two bedroom apartments have been given the go-ahead for Main Street in Danbury.

Former NewsTimes Building - Instant Google Streetview

According to ctinsider.com, the new $13 million apartment complex called Brookview Commons II will be built where the NewsTimes building now stands at 333 Main St. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall.

Does downtown Danbury really need more housing? According to a master plan by city officials to revitalize the downtown's nightlife, the answer is Yes. The comprehensive research finds that more empty-nesters are selling their homes and are looking to move into the downtown area.

The 10-acre 375 apartment complex, Kennedy Flats has reached a 90% occupancy rate. Developer, Dan Bertram's plan is to build a six-story apartment complex that will include a second story outdoor pool that will overlook Main Street.

One and two bedroom apartments will rent between $1,400 to $2,600. The city's timeline has the demolition of the old News Times building beginning in the next couple of months. The new Main Street apartments are expected to take 18 months to construct.

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June 16, 2019

News
New Apartments Coming to Main Street in Danbury

The $13-million, 150-apartment complex is slated to begin construction in the fall.

DANBURY, CT — A developer's plan to replace the 60,000-square-foot former News-Times building with a six-story apartment complex received city land-use approvals last week, the News-Times is reporting.

The $13-million, 150-apartment complex is slated to begin construction in the fall. The building, located at 333 Main St., is across the street from the 275-unit Kennedy Flats. That 10-acre residential complex was 90 percent rented last year when it was sold by the developer Greystar for $86 million.

Construction of the new apartments is expected to take 18 months, following the demolition of the existing building, which could now begin in as soon as a month.

By Rich Kirby, Patch Staff | Jun 17, 2019 8:57 am ET
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June 5, 2019

News
Danbury Among Top U.S. Cities: New Report

DANBURY, CT —Danbury is among the top 50 cities in the U.S. with populations of less than a million, according to a new study. The report is from Resonance Consultancy, a marketing firm that specializes in destination branding. Resonance placed Danbury 43rd in its "small city" rankings. Danbury was ranked number 3 among small cities in the category of "people," right behind Ann Arbor, MI, and Boulder, CO, and number eight for "prosperity."

By Rich Kirby, Patch Staff | Jun 5, 2019 5:30 pm ET | Updated Jun 5, 2019 6:28 pm ET

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May 7, 2019

News
The Best 5 Cities in Connecticut to Start a Business, Ranked

Local business is incredibly important in Connecticut: Small businesses make up 97% of Connecticut’s total businesses, and employ almost half of the state’s private workforce. And Connecticut takes small-business promotion seriously, offering a range of state-specific small business financing programs and Connecticut tax incentives that encourage business investment.

Connecticut is a promising state in which to start a small business—but where should you do it? Out of 169 towns and cities in the state, we found the five best cities in Connecticut to start a small business.

Danbury made #4 on this list!

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April 10, 2019

News
Danbury Named to 'Most Diverse' List of US Cities

DANBURY, CT — A financial website compared the profiles of cities across 5 major diversity categories.  Danbury has just been named among the most diverse in the nation by a financial website.

The rankings also place Danbury as the most diverse city in the State of Connecticut and the 4th Most Diverse Small City in America. WalletHub compares the profiles of each city across five major diversity categories including socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household, and religion.

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April 9, 2019

News
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton Wants a new Metro-North link to Harlem Line for Faster Commute to New York City

Gov. Ned Lamont is not the only Connecticut politician clamoring for a new level of express train service from Connecticut to New York City.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton wants to use an abandoned commuter rail line to connect his city with Metro-North’s Harlem Line, which he said could save up to an hour on the commute to Grand Central Terminal.

It’s known as the Maybrook Line and it once served Danbury, Bethel, Newtown and Derby in Connecticut and Putnam, Dutchess and Orange counties in New York when it opened in the late 1880s.

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April 3, 2019

News
No Tax Increase!

Mayor Mark Boughton is proposing a zero tax increase to your property taxes for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. #zerotaxincrease

This budget adds $5.1 million to our schools, $4.7 million for road repair/paving, and widely increases public safety measures throughout the city - with no change to the mill rate.

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March 27, 2019

News
New Stores and Restaurants Planned for Danbury Fair Mall

For the first time in a decade, the Danbury Fair Mall is looking at expansion.

Another building is being planned for the access drive that circles the mall which would measure 22,000 square feet. In the process, 100 parking spaces would be eaten up for the expansion. According to Danbury Fair owners, Macerish,  96% of the mall's space is occupied which is up 4% over last year. If you could choose which stores are added to the Danbury Fair Mall expansion project, what would they be?

Ethan Carey; i95Rock.com| March 27, 2019

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March 26, 2019

News
Two New Buildings Eyed for Danbury Fair Mall

In what could be Danbury Fair mall’s first significant addition in more than a decade, a pair of new structures are under consideration for the Macy’s corner of the retail center, with the goal of filling in new stores, restaurants or entertainment in the immediate orbit of the department store.

As the case at many malls nationally, Macy’s owns its anchor pad at Danbury Fair mall, with the city appraising the nearly 300,000-square-foot department store and its land at $17.4 million as of 2017.

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November 6, 2018

News
Danbury Leads CT in 5-Year Job Growth; 41st in Ranking of 50 States’ Leaders

When job growth is measured over the past five years, Danbury leads the way in Connecticut. An analysis of changes in employment figures between 2013 and 2018 from the 381 metropolitan areas defined by the U.S. Census Bureau focused on the leading city in each state, and ranked them. The analysis, by the website howmuch.net, found that Danbury - which saw job growth of 6.6 percent - outpaced Connecticut’s largest cities, but that the leading city in 40 of the 50 states had a stronger track-record.

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April 29, 2018

News
Diverse Economy Fuels Danbury Job Market

“In many ways, Danbury is the forgotten city in Fairfield County up north here,” said P.J. Prunty, executive director of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce. “These statistics show that people are attracted to a city that has opportunity and good employment. It’s growing, and that’s a good thing. People are voting with their feet by moving here.”

The Danbury Labor Market Area boasts the lowest unemployment rate of the nine LMAs in the state. At 3.9 percent, the Danbury LMA outpaces the state unemployment rate of 4.5 and also tops the U.S. rate of 4.1 percent.

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February 13, 2018

News
Danbury Named Best City to Live in Connecticut

DANBURY -A new list has been released of the best cities to live in every state, and the top city in Connecticut is Danbury.

According to 24/7 Wall Street, Danbury is also one of the most expensive places in the U.S. Goods and services cost an average of over 30 percent more in the area than they do nationwide.

Even though the city has a high cost of living, it's the most livable city in the state and one of the most livable cities in the U.S. Danbury boasts a higher concentration of restaurants, theater companies and sports teams than is typical nationwide. The city also has a high concentration of nature parks, recreation centers, and golf courses.

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News
Danbury is Among Connecticut's 25 Safest Large Cities

Large cities are based on a population of at least 36,000 residents. Danbury is the #11 Safest City in Connecticut. The 25 safest cities in Connecticut all have impressive safety ratings, ranging from 92.71 to 62.45. The overall crime stats in this state are on the lower end compared to the national averages. Most of the cities in Connecticut have been seeing a decline in violent and property crimes, or no change at all to their already low crime rates.

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