A reclining robot, a mischievous monkey, and happy hippo are among the colorful works of art that now welcome visitors to the new Brickyard Plaza in the town of Killingly in Connecticut.
The Brickyard Plaza is a conversion of 15 underutilized municipally owned parking spaces into a public gathering and event space. The space includes outdoor seating, a stage, and interactive public art.
The underutilized parking spaces sat behind our main street businesses and were already configured in a natural courtyard design. During the pandemic, the space was utilized for outdoor dining and food truck events. We realized that the aesthetics and user-friendly aspect of the space could become a permanent pocket park with some enhancement.
Working in partnership with the town of Killingly and the Killingly Economic Development Commission, the Eastern Connecticut Association of REALTORS® helped to reimagine the space. Now neighbors are getting to know one another through the community paint installation as well as programming, and increased foot traffic from the surrounding neighborhoods has given a boost to the small businesses located within the downtown. Economic, communal, and artistic vibrancy live here!
NAR's grant was used toward the purchase of paint, art murals, and picnic tables for the plaza. Members of ECAR volunteered on community paint day, when artists laid down the grids, and community members with filled in the "paint by number" interactive floor mural on the asphalt.
The plaza is accessible by transit, foot, wheelchair, bike, and vehicle. The space is 500 feet from the public transit bus stop and directly adjacent to the major roadway through the borough center. The space is within a walkable neighborhood that is home to 4,200 residents, and the plaza is also easily accessible by wheelchair.
The plaza is open to everyone at all hours of the day. The town installed free Wi-Fi in the vicinity to ensure broadband access to all members of our community.
All of the Placemaking Grants that we provide in and around Eastern Connecticut are worthwhile projects for the association. We see how effective the grants are when we attend meetings with town managers, the economic development director and other officials, commercial REALTORS®, and investors. We’re able to offer our grant program to help improve the town, and town stakeholders appreciate the opportunity. We have helped other towns with the grants, which makes the REALTOR® association stand out as a community supporter. We have had new affiliates and REALTOR® members join because of our Placemaking Grants.