The state has awarded $5 million in grants to 13 municipalities across Connecticut to develop or improve town commercial, the office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced yesterday.

The grants are part of the state’s Main Street Investment Fund, which is administered through the state Department of Housing. The Main Street Investment Fund provides financial incentives to eligible municipalities as well as owners of commercial private properties for expenditures that directly support and enhance a qualified project. Awards are no more than $500,000 and can be used for expenses such as building improvements, signage, lighting and streetscape improvements.

The funded projects include the following:

  • Bethel will receive $290,149 to improve the town’s commercial center. The project will include new sidewalks, accessibility ramps, signage, streetscape and safety improvements and will create a walkable and ADA-compliant downtown by improving public safety and pedestrian access, creating a community gathering place and increasing recreational opportunities.
  • Norfolk will receive $500,000 to convert a five-acre wetland, meadow and hillside – colonized by invasive plant species – into a storm water park called City Meadow, complete with boardwalks and resting places utilizing low-impact development techniques. The innovative project will save a threatened pocket of wetlands.
  • Vernon will receive $400,000 to promote redevelopment efforts in the downtown area in the Rockville section of town. The project, which will include replacement of windows and doors, exterior clean up and installation of streetscape elements, will encourage further development around the existing transportation and reuse a brownfields site.

“These grants are a great way for the state to support our cities and towns in their efforts to develop and improve their commercial centers,” Malloy said in a statement. “This program responds to the unique needs of individual communities all around the state by creating partnerships with local governments and merchants to improve aesthetics and pedestrian access, attract new businesses, new customers, and new residents – ultimately breathing new life into our smaller commercial centers.”