DANBURY, Conn. -- Merging Danbury's homeless shelters and restructuring the city's Pulse Point mass transportation were two of the topics Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton took on in his State of the City Address on Friday afternoon at the Crowne Plaza Danbury.
The talk was hosted by the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.
In his speech to several hundred people, Boughton first conveyed his enthusiasm for growth of new businesses and development in Danbury over the past year.
“We are cranked up and pumped to continue to do the things we need to do to make Danbury a great place to live, work and be educated in," said Boughton, who has formed an exploratory committee to run for governor.
Danbury's unemployment rate, at 3.6 percent, is the lowest of any neighboring city --something "we should all be proud of," he said.
In 2016, three dozen small and medium-size businesses have come to Danbury, Boughton said,
And the city also saw the opening of the Kennedy Flats luxury apartments, the new campus of Naugatuck Valley Community College, Primark department store at the Danbury Fair mall and the ShopRite supermarket.
Boughton also spoke about the new Clean Start Program designed to help chronically homeless people by hiring them for odd jobs and giving them gift cards. Those who take part in the program also have access to support services.
Despite the positive aspects of the Clean Start Program, Boughton said he wants to do more to help the homeless. To that end, he proposed merging the two downtown shelters into one location.
"There are two primary city shelters in Danbury — one that’s located on New Street that has about 20 beds and a privately run shelter called Dorothy Day Hospitality House located on Spring Street, which also has about 20 beds," he said.
Boughton said the new facility will be close to the Main Street area so it’s on the bus line and accessible to city services. It will have about 40 beds, as well as a commercial kitchen and cafeteria, and a counseling center.
"This will provide a real relief to the chronic homeless in our community and will help them access the services that they need," he said.
Neighbors of the Dorothy Day Hospitality House have long complained about the shelter causing quality-of-life issues on Spring Street.
Another issue to address in the coming year is the bus Pulse Point on Kennedy Avenue, which needs to be made more accessible to passengers who also ride Metro-North trains, Boughton said.
“You now have to cross a very busy intersection to get to the rail station, so we’d like to move the Pulse Point from its current location closer to the vicinity of the Danbury rail station," he said. “This way, our commuters can literally get off the train and get right on the bus to their final destination."
Other upcoming projects Boughton addressed at his talk included the widening of Newtown Road and cleaning and saving as much of the Tarrywile Castle as possible.
At the event, Boughton also presented the Cecil J. Previdi Award to Jim Kennedy, CEO and founder of the Network Support Company.