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Danbury Green

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As a part of its long-delayed redevelopment project, the City of Danbury constructed this green during the summer of 1992 on the site of a former municipal parking lot. Its creation coincided with the awarding of contracts for several other components of the redevelopment project on the seven-acre tract, and with the completion of the four-story Patriot parking garage that overlooks the green. The green was a state-funded project that cost $115,000. The idea of City Planner Dennis Elpern, the Danbury Green, as it is called, was expected to be a smaller space that could be used for community activities. The city's master plan for the parcel called for the eastern approximately one-third of the former lot to be sold off to a developer to build a concrete and glass "pavilion" between the rest of the green and the newly constructed municipal parking garage on National Place. However, financing for the developer's project was delayed, and in the interim the entire space was sodded. Subsequently, a number of events held in the new open space captured considerable public attention. Among these were weekly farmers markets; A Taste of Danbury, a showcase for the city's many downtown restaurants; and privately sponsored events. When plans for the pavilion were finally announced a formidable uproar ensued, fueled by those who had begun to warm to the new public space. As a result of the furor and pressure by the News-Times, the Danbury Redevelopment Agency, which has authority over the land, has voted to retain the entire space as a public green. Danbury's former green, dating to the town's founding, is the present Elmwood Park on Main Street, a narrowed strip suitable only for small crowds and utilized today principally for casual recreation and as a commemorative space.

The new Danbury Green, artificial as its origins may be, seems to have touched a common nerve, a need for a sizable and truly central public space that can be utilized for a variety of community functions. It promises to be a successful public space in an area in which the City hopes to blend old and new. It is possibly as good an example as can be found in the state that the idea of the village green, so central to New England as a cultural region, continues to be alive and that a new green can be successfully created with imagination and public backing.



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