Investment in Brookfield gains momentum with sidewalk expansion

BROOKFIELD — With the Cleveland Browns football logo on the front and center of his helmet and a Cavaliers symbol on the side, Greg Dembowski took a break Tuesday afternoon to explain the ongoing development in the Four Corners section of the city.

At the corner of Route 7 and the old Federal Highway behind it, crews worked to widen sidewalks and build a pocket park along a line of road that will eventually connect to the Still River Greenway – the one of the most traveled trails in the state and one that features the longest walkway in Connecticut.

Across the street, other crews moved earth to clear land to be the site of a future grocery store whose name has yet to be named. This is all part of a major overhaul of a section of town known as Four Corners.

“Initially, eight years ago, it was thought of in three phases, but it has been such a success, you can see all around you that there is construction, four projects in sight from here are now under construction,” he said.

“He grew up and was very well accepted,” he added.

Dembowski is the city’s community development specialist. He moved to Brookfield 36 years ago after a career with Union Carbide Corporation, a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, where he excelled in project management.

After serving as vice chairman of the city’s economic development commission, Dembowski would later accept an offer for a full-time position that now sees him overseeing the city’s six-phase streetscape project.

Currently in the third phase of construction, the ongoing project in Brookfield will see a new “pocket park” connected to pedestrian walkways providing access to the Still River Greenway.

Looking at the construction site Tuesday afternoon, Dembowski noted that the overall project started at least six years ago; and phases four, five and six will be completed “over the next two years”.

Phase three is expected to cost $1.3 million, with the total cost of all six phases currently projected at $14.1 million. The city is contributing $3.1 million with state and federal grants covering the rest — funding that Dembowski said city employees under his leadership have diligently sought over the past five years.

“Before that this thing was really at a standstill, a lot of different things were going on and it just needed to have focus and focus and someone dedicated to getting it through all the nuances of state money and from the federal government and all of the approvals and getting it out of neutral,” he said.

Around the block, phases four, five and six are underway with interconnected construction complemented by ongoing residential and commercial development at the Brookfield Villages site, as well as projects on Laurel Avenue that will add over 100 units residential in the Region.

Additional work will add sidewalks and relocate utility poles to improve the overall aesthetic of the neighborhood.

As Dembowski discussed installing a set of mailboxes at the Phase Three site, former city police chief James “Jay” Purcell pulled into the parking lot to pick up a cafe at the adjacent, newly completed Dunkin’.

“You have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette, but once you’ve got it all done, it’s going to be nice,” Purcell said.

“You bring people in, they go to businesses, everyone is doing well, people will come here and walk around and exercise.”

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