A “year of transformation” ahead, Stevenson says in State of Darien address

First Selectman Jayme Stevenon was joined by business owners and town residents for her annual "State of Darien" address. Taken Jan. 8.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenon was joined by business owners and town residents for her annual "State of Darien" address. Taken Jan. 8.

Lynandro Simmons /Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — With several developments looking to break ground as early as spring, the town has a year of big changes ahead.

That was the theme of First Selectman Jayme Stevenson’s Wednesday morning State of Darien address, in which she described 2019 as a “year of transformation.” Stevenson was joined by local business owners and members of the Darien Chamber of Commerce.

“In 2019 I think we’re going to see some shovels on the ground,” Stevenson said.

With the recent approval of the downtown redevelopment project dubbed the Corbin Project, several development projects are planned to begin this year.

“Many of the things happening in and around Darien are because of incredible partners like Baywater Properties, the Palmer family, and Federal Realty who are changing the face of the town of Darien,” Stevenson said.

Along with these redevelopments, the town, Federal Realty and Palmers will collaborate to handle one of Darien’s major problems — flooding.

“We’re going to kick that off in the town and put in a large infilitration system in our commuter parking lot adjacent to the depot,” Stevenson said, adding that future redevelopment projects will include flood mitigating features.

Along with the commercial redevelopments, the town is taking on some renovation projects of its own. The Pear Tree Beach Building Committee is currently working on upgrades to the beach, while a building committee for the redevelopment of Ox Ridge Elementary School has also been formed.

“We’re looking at bringing into our building projects an element of sustainability,” she said, adding discussions on best practices for school security are also being held.

At the state level, Stevenson said she was excited for newly elected Gov. Ned Lamont.

“Ned Lamont is going to bring his business experience to the state of Connecticut,” she said. “He’s also from Fairfield County so he understands the uniquess of where we live.”

During the address, residents asked about Ox Ridge, which has been renamed as Highland Farm.

“It’s open for public passive use now,” Stevenson said. “You will see some parks programming beginning in the spring.”

Darien Toy Box owner Bill Jensen also brought up one of the long-discussed potential town projects: a community pool.

“I know there was something discussed for Weed Beach, then the high school and middle school,” Jensen said.

Stevenson said there are people who support a pool, but others don’t; without a general consensus, the town doesn’t believe it can get the Board of Finance to back the idea.

“We have to set priorities on spending,” she said. “Unfortunately that one hasn’t risen to the top yet. I really do hope that one day soon where comfortably enough financially to make that investment.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568