Middletown’s “Return to the Riverbend” community investment project will be getting a boost from the state’s Community Investment Fund (CIF). At a meeting Tuesday morning, the CIF approved $12 million in funds from the program to go toward the project.

“This project, with potential that is almost immeasurable, will serve our residents and connect our neighborhoods to the riverfront,” said Sen. Matt Lesser (D-Middletown). “The Connecticut River is the beating heart of our region. This historic investment in Middletown’s riverfront will be transformative for our region and Middletown’s future.”

The plan is to redevelop 220 acres of land along the Connecticut River. This round of state funding will allow organizers to purchase and work with blighted properties within the footprint. In a press release following the announcement, leaders outlined the plans for the $12 million:

“CIF Funding will specifically be used to complete remediation of the Peterson Oil Property, the Waste Water Treatment Plan, and Jackson Corrugated Container at 225 River Road, one of the few properties outside of the floodplain suitable for mixed-use development. Additionally, it will include funding for engineering and 40% schematic design for public spaces including stabilization of the riverbank and resiliency of shoreline, flood mitigation, and help unlock 50 acres of public park space and 7 miles of pedestrian and bike-friendly pathways. Furthermore, Middletown is seeking to construct a new Middletown High School Boathouse and create public access of the riverfront along Rt 9.” 

“It is impossible for me to overstate both how important this funding is to the next phase of Middletown’s riverfront, and how ideal the timing is with the recent completion of the Return to the Riverbend Master Plan,” said Middletown Mayor Benjamin Florsheim in a statement.

The Return to the Riverbend project Master Plan outlines an ambitious extension of Middletown’s downtown area. The redevelopment includes several different zones, each with public parks and interconnected pedestrian walkways. Some areas also include plans for new housing development in the form of apartments and townhomes.

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An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment...

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