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NEW BRITAIN, CT.... Mayor Bullish On City's Future

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Mayor Bullish On City's Future

Democrat: What About Revaluation?

March 15, 2007

By MONICA POLANCO, Courant Staff Writer

NEW BRITAIN -- Mayor Timothy Stewart on Wednesday delivered a bullish portrait of the city's progress during the last year, spending little time on the perennial call for budget cuts.

Stewart, a Republican who is expected to formally announce his bid for re-election, made his state of the city address from a lectern that members of the public and department heads use to address the common council. Stewart advocated a broader city-management style that extends beyond election cycles.

"Too often in the past, decisions were made with the next election in mind," Stewart told the council during his 10-minute speech. "It is my belief that the time has come for us to plan for the next generation and not just the election."

Stewart cited several positive developments in New Britain, including Siracusa Moving and Storage's new location on South Street and two companies - Dattco and Guida's - that are expected to become its neighbors.

Stewart listed the development of downtown as his priority. A steering committee has created a blueprint for attracting more visitors to the downtown area, and it includes building an 8,000-capacity arena for Central Connecticut State University. The arena, Stewart said, could serve as a cornerstone for downtown development.

Stewart described several beacons for his hometown, including a new Farmington Savings Bank branch on Broad Street, which has been revitalized.

This year, a throughway project will connect Hart Street to Rockwell Avenue and run all the way to Corbin Avenue. The project, Stewart said, will create a faster route to the Hospital of Central Connecticut and ease traffic on Corbin Avenue.

He asked for the Democratic council's cooperation to move the city ahead.

"I ask that you join me in this challenge so that, together, we can build a better New Britain for those of us who live and work here today and for those who will follow us tomorrow," he said.

John McNamara, chairman of the Democratic town committee, said some of the things Stewart included in his address were initiated during previous administrations, including the arena idea, which was proposed by Jason Jakubowski, a former Democratic mayoral candidate.

Still, McNamara applauded Stewart's efforts.

"I think he's adopting some good ideas that have been supported by both parties," he said.

What was missing from Stewart's speech, McNamara said, was information about how the city will handle its revaluation.

"If the revaluation is coming, I think the city needs to have a plan to mitigate or offset the spike in property assessments," McNamara said.

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