“Greenwich Communities,” formerly the Greenwich Housing Authority, held a plaque dedication on Saturday to commemorate the collective work that went into Phase I of Armstrong Court’s rejuvenation.
The dedication plaque, affixed to a large stone that was pulled from the area during the construction of the 18 new townhouses, was unveiled to a group of officials, including Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.
Greenwich Communities has developed a strategy that includes a five-phase plan to increase affordable housing in Town. Sam Romeo, Chairman of Greenwich Communities, said Phase I was only the beginning.
“In the next five years, we are going to be breaking ground on another 300 units of affordable housing here in the Town of Greenwich,” he said in a release.
Governor Lamont said that the new name, Greenwich Communities, “demonstrates that our towns, starting with Greenwich, my town, makes a commitment to affordable housing.”
“As I tell folks who sometimes get a little edgy about affordable housing, I like that the people who work in my town can afford to live in my town,” Lamont added. “That’s called community, and that’s what makes a community special. Connecticut is trying to do the best we can there, and Greenwich has really taken the lead.”
State of Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno joined Governor Lamont congratulating Greenwich Communities for their efforts. She said affordable housing was essential to the economy.
The Governor promised going forward, “Seila and the State will be your partner. We are going to keep you really busy. And tell the builders we are going to keep them really busy because it is the right thing to do.”
Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo thanked the Governor for attending and saluted longtime housing authority board chair Sam Romeo and Director Anthony Johnson for leading the way.
“As the Governor said, Greenwich is leading the way. Some of these Bills (in Hartford) are well intended, but not needed if you are doing the right thing at home and we are doing that without mandate,” Camillo said.
In unveiling the plaque dedicated to the Board of Commissioners, staff, leaders in government, and community, Romeo further explained that the new townhouses are just beginning a transformation.
“Greenwich Communities has undertaken a massive transformation, and we have changed the perception of housing,” Romeo said, pointing to the 18 newly built townhouses in Armstrong Court. “We just built another 11 units in Riverside.”
Phase 2 of Armstrong Court is about to begin with the total rehabilitation of Buildings 1, 3, and 6, which will resemble the new townhouses.
Romeo stated, “we have the land; we have the plans we are putting together, with two of them ready to go. We will be looking for the funding on those projects and the approval from the Town to go ahead and start to put the shovel in the ground. That will be a tremendous boost to providing affordable housing in Greenwich. As the Governor said, we are going to be the leaders in this area. We do more than most, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Johnson added that “this is just the beginning for us here in Greenwich. We have big plans; all we need are the dollars, and we will make it happen. We will get those dollars going, and we will provide as much affordable housing in Greenwich as we can. We are absolutely are committed to that.”
Other officials in attendance included Selectwoman Lauren Rabin, State Representatives Stephen Meskers and Kim Fiorello, Former First Selectman Peter Tesei, Former Selectmen Drew Marzullo and John Toner, RTM Members Linda Moshier and Irene Dietrich, Commissioners James Boutelle, Abelardo Curdumi, Angelo Pucci, Cathy Landy and Robert Sims, Former Commissioner and Project Coordinator George Yankowich, and the General Contractor Tony Vitti of A Vitti Excavators.
Tesei praised Sam Romeo’s longtime “grassroots efforts and initiative” as well as the work of all of the Commissioners and staff who “did the right thing to modernize and improve the community.”
Tesei went on to say that “Greenwich can be so proud of the work that is being done in affordable housing and let that resonate not only throughout Greenwich but throughout the urban areas in the City of Hartford and the City of New Haven with all of those who have not been brought up to speed with what is happening. Hopefully, they will read this story, which shows a positive grassroots effort. It was a pleasure to be part of it. We also overcame local adversity. It is important to note that this is about the citizens who live here and making life better for them. Politics aside, this was the right thing to do; the necessary thing to do.”
Governor Lamont also took a few moments to highlight the transformation of downtown Greenwich in response to the pandemic.
“Thanks in large part to your First Selectman Fred Camillo,” Lamont said. “I don’t know about you, but I love dining downtown and the fact that the street is really coming to life. My kids are coming out from New York and saying I want to be on Greenwich Avenue having dinner, and it is transformative for Greenwich. Fred, you get going on the train station down there, and if Sam wants to do some affordable housing as part of it, the State will be right there next to you doing the right thing for our community. I love my hometown, and I love being back here, and I love the fact that we are doing the right thing.”