Life: Revealed

Boxer Square Park and Intersection Improvements
Stamford, CT

Boxer Square, located west of downtown Stamford, is an eclectic neighborhood supporting single and multi-family homes, local businesses, and several religious sites. This bustling region was hampered by a misaligned intersection (which resulted in numerous crashes) and a lack of multi-modal options, both which were discouraging economic growth.
The City recognized the potential in this community and
smartly invested in itself.

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Funding

The City of Stamford applied for and received a Community Connectivity grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) to facilitate improvements to both the layout and to the aesthetics. The CTDOT’s Community Connectivity Grant Program is an infrastructure improvement program that provides construction funding for safety and accessibility improvements to community centers. The Boxer Square Park and Intersection Improvement Project became one of the first projects to receive award of this smart grant, being awarded $400,000 (the maximum grant award) to improve transportation options and create a safe, pedestrian-friendly, community space in the historic Boxer Square intersection. The City contributed an additional $100,000 to transform this antiquated intersection with challenging vehicular turns and a lack of pedestrian amenities into an inviting, safe, and community-reflective district.

Challenge

The Boxer Square intersection had major problems regarding pedestrian safety, cyclist safety, and overall cohesiveness into its surroundings. It has been theorized that the area may have been a trolly turnaround at one point, which may explain its unique and challenging original configuration. The streets were not aligned, which resulted in an excessive amount of asphalt, and pedestrian crossings were long and disconnected. This created unsafe conditions for pedestrians utilizing the community center. Landscape, streetscape, hardscape, and lighting features were also lacking, which was detrimental to an area that supports many local businesses. This area was teaming with promise,
but lacked sufficient infrastructure to realize its full potential.

 

Special Feature

One special feature of this neighborhood is a bronze statue depicting two boxers. It was created by a local welder named A.D. Richardson and was found at a refuse company in the late 1970s. Many believe the artwork depicts the 1975 “Thrilla in Manila” boxing match between Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier, but some locals believe that perhaps one of the boxers is Chico Vejar, who was born in, and lived in, Stamford. Vejar was a welterweight who boxed professionally from 1950 through 1961, was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, starred in two Hollywood films, and was a volunteer board member with the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Fairfield County. If the artwork is of a local hero, this makes it an even more important community showpiece. After the statue was found, it took almost an additional 20 years for it to find its home in a small traffic circle outside of Pellicci’s restaurant on Stillwater Avenue.

Bringing the statue to the traffic circle was a community effort in 1995. The name Boxer Square was given by the community in which it is located, but no real dedication or ceremony ever officially established the site. Over time, as the neighborhood developed, the small park area became disconnected from the sidewalk areas, which created an incoherent aesthetic that prioritized vehicular traffic and made access
to local businesses and other amenities challenging.

 

Community Space

The Boxer Square intersection certainly had problems, but it also had potential. Boxer Square is an important community space, is home to many local businesses, and is a major bicycle and pedestrian route at the center of the West Side. Recognizing this potential, the City of Stamford commissioned a corridor study in 2009 to create a new future for this area. The Community Connectivity Grant was awarded during the winter of 2018 – 2019 and the design proposal was submitted in February of 2019. The design focused on creating a beautiful community park space, restoring and relocating the Square’s namesake statue, and reconstructing the intersection of Stillwater Avenue and Smith Street to create a safer environment for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. The 100% design plans were approved in early June of 2019 and the intersection reconstruction
was completed in September of 2019.

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  • Call us toll free at 800-286-2469
    146 Hartford Road, Manchester, CT 06040