All posts by Dave Bechtel

Hamden Car Tax Rally at the Capitol April 25

From our neighbor Christina Crowder:

A Promise is a Promise!

Join Hamden Mayor Curt Balzano Leng at a Press Conference and Rally at the State Capitol in Hartford on Weds. April 25, 11:30 am to Demand that Hartford fills the Car Tax Deficit Pothole in our town budget! 

How is it that after a year’s worth of promises that Hamden, Torrington and Bridgeport would be made whole on the car tax loophole, we find out now that our town has been offered less than 40 cents on the dollar? These three Alliance grant towns have already cut personnel and services to the bone after years and decades of under-funding in ECS (Education Cost Sharing) dollars.

Let’s tell the state legislature IN PERSON what the loss of millions of dollars is doing to our town budget! Let’s remind our legislators that we were PROMISED that we would be made WHOLE after passage of the state Car Tax Mil Rate Cap. How are we to find more cuts when our property taxes are three of the top ten in the state and our budgets are already stretched to the breaking point by decades of under-funding?

The loss of this revenue means cuts to schools, cuts to libraries, cuts to public safety, and cuts to necessary infrastructure maintenance. Hamden, Torrington and Bridgeport have three of the top ten Mil rates in the whole state of Connecticut, and now we’re expected to do more with less?

Enough is Enough! Bring a sign, bring your voice, bring your story! A promise is a promise and Hamden needs to get full restoration of the car tax deficit!! We know that most people are at work during weekdays, but if you can spare a long lunch, or know anyone who can join us for the rally, our many voices WILL make a difference. 

Press conference at 11:30am at the Capitol Building with Hamden Mayor Curt Leng and other elected officials. Rally and protest to follow.

Bring a sign, bring your voice, share your story — Hartford needs to fill our Car Tax Pothole!  Please visit the Facebook event page created for this rally for updates!

And feel free to share this message through your networks!

 https://www.facebook.com/events/438921143220448/

 

Christina

2nd Annual Whitneyville Branch Library Fundraiser

Support your local library, the heart of our Whitneyville community, and celebrate Spring at the same time. Join friends and neighbors on Friday, April 27th from 6-8 pm at The Playwright Banquet Room, located at 1232 Whitney Avenue.

Enjoy complimentary appetizers, a cash bar and readings by Hamden poet Franz Douskey. Lightheartedly called “Books & Booze” (with alcohol optional of course), net proceeds will be used by the Whitneyville Branch of the Hamden Public Library to support expanded programming and provide additional resources for residents and families in the community. Tickets are $30/person.

See our flyer for details and to mail in your donation.  You can also RSVP online.

Sponsored by the Whitneyville Civic Association.

Letter to Town Council Supporting Hamden’s Branch Libraries

Hamden Legislative Council President Michael McGarry

Dear Councilman McGarry,

We are writing in support of the Hamden Public Library branches.  Our local Whitneyville branch is a “local gem” that offers valuable resources and services while bringing neighbors of all ages and backgrounds together.

WCA Support.  As you may know, the Whitneyville Civic Association (WCA) has been very supportive of Hamden’s libraries, with special emphasis on our Whitneyville branch.  In the past year, we:

  • Created a refurbishment plan for the Whitneyville branch and worked with the Library Board and the town to implement the first phase of the plan (including planting new trees and painting the exterior).
  • Held our first fundraiser to support the Whitneyville branch, which raised more than $2,000 from 100+ donors.
  • Held an evening of poetry reading by local resident Bruce Coffin in November.
  • Held a Saturday morning family activity with local award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Deborah Freedman for Take Your Child to the Library Day in February.
  • Are planning a second annual fundraiser on April 27 at 6:00 pm at The Playwright.  We hope you can attend!

A Local Gem.  A neighborhood library is more than just the books inside a building. It is a cultural and community center that invites and inspires people to learn and become active members of the neighborhood. The Whitneyville Branch Library is an invaluable asset to our neighborhood. It provides much more than merely books. Access to DVDs, newspapers, and the Internet is available‐‐for free. It functions as a public space for community members to meet formally and informally‐‐for free. A library is also a quiet space in which to read, think, and discover new ideas, or just meet new people. The Whitneyville Library’s design invites you to enter it. Its generous glazing allows you to see the sky and trees and the changing seasons, adding to the experience a library can provide.

The Whitneyville Branch Library benefits our neighborhood in many ways, by:

  • Providing accessible resources for residents of all ages, incomes, and ethnic backgrounds, which is of particular importance to those who might otherwise have a hard time paying for, traveling to, or even finding equivalent resources elsewhere. The branch is within an easy walking distance from residences, elderly housing, and nearby bus stops.  Walk into our branch any day and you’ll see a vibrant place filled with children, parents, seniors and adults from all walks of life.
  • Bringing people to the neighborhood, which benefits local businesses as well.
  • Increasing home values and attracting home buyers. For a semi-urban community that wants to attract and retain young families, libraries are an important community resource.

When we posted the New Haven Register article on proposed budget cuts to the branches, the response on Next Door showed how much our neighborhood values the branch:

  • This library is a gem for many folks in this area. In walking distance to many elderly and families.  I’ve been a number of times.”
  • “What a disappointment if the mayor closes Whitneyville library. A neighborhood library walking distance, a wonderful staff, and much loved library.”
  • “Closing Whitneyville library would be such a big loss. This lovely library is a wonderful resource to the community.  Not only is it a great library for books and DVDs etc., it is a gathering place for young families and creates community.”
  • “This would be a disastrous decision if indeed it’s proposed.”
  • “We need to save this library. It is an absolute treasure in southern Hamden.”
  • “Whitneyville is the most friendly of all the libraries in town.”
  • “To close the Whitneyville library would be a loss to the many that utilize it for the computers, not everyone has wi-fi or smart phones, or even online internet.”

Supporting Community Development.  The branch libraries help support the town’s development efforts targeted at Southern Hamden. For example, the town just applied to have federal Opportunity Zone funding go to the same Census tracts that surround the Brundage branch (http://www.hamden.com/qcontent/NewsFeed.aspx?FeedID=1515), and is starting a Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) to revitalize the State Street corridor.

Branches Where the People Are.  While it is true that the branch libraries are relatively close to each other, this makes sense given the population density in these neighborhoods.  All you need do is look at the political district map of the town to see how compact the southern Hamden districts are (where each district has close to the same percentage rate of the population).  The less densely populated northern Hamden is served by virtue of its proximity to the much more extensive services – compared to the branches – of the Main Library.

While we realize Hamden faces difficult budget choices, we believe that the branch libraries are a critical investment in our neighborhoods that contribute to a thriving Hamden with a strong local tax base.

Sincerely,

Dave Bechtel, President

Connie Matheson, Vice-President

Deb Maldonado, Treasurer

Deirdre Dolan, Secretary

Janet Kazienko, Past President

Liz Hellwig, Business Liaison

Michael Ross, Library Committee Chair

Mark Foran, Traffic Committee Chair

 

Keep Whitneyville Clean

The Whitneyville Progressive Action Network created a one-page reminder on how to keep our neighborhood clean.    Just in time for April, which is bulk trash pick-up month.

Keep Whitneyville Clean

Keep Our Neighborhood Free of Illegal Dumping!

If you have bulk garbage you need to get rid of:

  • You can put it out by the curb during April and October and the city will pick it up. Please note that the town cannot pick up TVs.
  • During the months in between, you can put something out in the hope that someone will pick it up. However, please don’t put it out for more than a couple of days and only in good weather.

 Consider donating the furniture to a charity: 

  • Salvation Army: (203) 230-2323, 1359 Dixwell Ave.
  • Goodwill (203) 248-1600, 2901 State Street or 2369 Dixwell Ave.
  • Take to the town dump. 341 Wintergreen Ave. in New Haven (203-387-2435). Bring ID to prove residency. The town dump will accept TVs.

If you see bulk garbage left out for weeks on end during months other than April and   October:

Residents on this site can notify the town about issues in their neighborhood, upload photos, and track the town’s response. You don’t need to identify yourself.

  • Call Hamden Planning and Zoning (203) 287-7070 and report the problem.

Be sure to give the address where the garbage has been dumped. You don’t need to identify yourself.

  • Ask your neighbors to do the same! A volume of calls is more likely to be effective. One way to do this is to post the information on NextDoor.com https://nextdoor.com/ and ask others in your neighborhood to report it. You can upload a photo on NextDoor as well.

Feel free to copy this notice and give it to your neighbors!

 We live in a beautiful neighborhood!  Let’s keep it that way!

Sponsored by Whitneyville Progressive Action Network (WPAN Works)

March 2018 Meeting Notes

March 15, 2018 Meeting Notes

Welcome.  Meeting called to order by President Dave Bechtel at 7:12.  Board introductions were made.

Announcements.  Dave drew attention to the various printouts and information on the table:

  • Updates on economic development from Hamden’s Department of Economic and Community Development (see http://www.hamden-ct.com/News/default.asp for the latest updates).
  • March 24th the Hamden Tree Commission is having a tree-pruning workshop at the Whitneyville Branch Library.
  • At the January WCA meeting, the Hamden Police Department shared resources on avoiding scams and preventing crime.

The WCA Annual Meeting is May 17; the vice-president and the secretary positions are up for a vote. Any members who are interested in joining the board can contact current WCA board members to learn more about these positions.

Committee Updates.  Deirdre Dolan gave the Music Committee Meeting report:

  • Denicola Park will again be the location.
  • Three concerts will be organized, each with a different musical genre: Jazz, Singalong, and Classical. Dates are not solid yet but may be 6/13, 7/11, and 8/8.
  • We need funds: Looking to put a “Donate” button on the website; will also be approaching some potential sponsors. Liz Hellwig said her store “Framed” would be a sponsor.
  • The next Music Committee meeting will be held on 3/25/18.

Dave gave the Library Report:

  • The 2nd Annual “Books and Booze” fundraiser event is scheduled for April 27th at the Playwright from 6-8 p.m. Cost is $30 per person. The event was highly successful last year. Those interested can RSVP at: https://goo.gl/forms/3QoLbNe02BrruABH3.

Mill River Watershed Plan.  Mark Foran introduced Save the Sound’s Nicole Davis who is the Project Coordinator for the Mill River Watershed Plan. Save the Sound received a grant from the state to look at non-point source pollution entering Long Island Sound from Connecticut. The last component is looking at the Mill River’s 25-acre watershed. There are known sources of pollution, for example English Station, but those known sources are not the focus of this study. Instead Save the Sound is looking at the quality of water entering the river from throughout the watershed, especially the elevated bacterial and the impairment of aquatic life and recreation.

Bacterial aggravators include stormwater, illegal discharges, and septic systems. The objective is to reduce these sources of impairment through many projects including identification of water quality issues, engaging watershed municipalities and the public, and consolidating existing plans and studies to increase efficiency and stimulate action. Consultants are currently finishing up much of this legwork, and the final plan should be unveiled in the early summer this year.

The project’s success hinges on community education and involvement. Save the Sound is expecting improved access to the river.

Nicole said the river is relatively clean, but she wouldn’t eat fish that were caught downstream of the dam due to some contaminated sites in that area.

Whitneyville residents asked a number of questions and made suggestions Nicole will take back to the Steering Committee. She will send WCA a copy of her presentation that we will put on our website (see http://whitneyville.org/mill-river-watershed-plan/). One of the concerns was increased access to the areas of the river that make up the reservoirs, with discussion of the pros and cons.

Mark Foran will be attending upcoming Steering Committee meetings that relate to the Mill River on behalf of the WCA.

Nicole encouraged participants to sign up to receive updates on the planning process.  You can contact Nicole directly at ndavis@savethesound.org.

Adjournment.  Dave thanked Nicole for her presentation and adjourned the meeting at 8:20.

 

JANUARY 2018 MEETING NOTES

January 18, 2018 Whitneyville Civic Association (WCA) Meeting

Welcome.  Meeting called to order by President Dave Bechtel at 7:05.

The sign-in sheet was passed around. Board members and those in attendance introduced themselves and stated which street they live on.

Treasurer Deb Weckerle said all members will get a membership card, most likely in March.

Announcements.  Dave let people know about the Family Library event coming up at the library in February. The second Booze and Books library fundraiser will be held on April 27, as well as another Evening in the Stacks event to be held at a date to be determined soon.

Janet Kazienko announced that the Music Committee will be meeting at 7:30 next Monday.

Dave mentioned that local postman Dave Misthal is retiring and there’s a party for him on January 31 at the Playwright at 6 pm.

Presentation by Hamden Police.  Sgt. John Testa said he considers the WCA to be a neighborhood wide block watch. Sgt. Testa gave some safety tips:

  • If someone breaks into your car but doesn’t steal anything, you should still inform the police.
  • Detective Sean Dolan was introduced as the officer in charge of the block watches. Stay in touch with him as he follows what’s going on the neighborhood.
  • Stay in touch with what’s going on through the Hamden Police Department Facebook page.
  • Don’t fall for scams. If there is a scam going around, let the police know so they can track it.
  • Keep an inventory list of items in your house, take pictures, and it is much easier for the police to help in case of theft. Most stolen items end up in pawn shops, and serial numbers can help with easy identification.
  • Always lock your car. Bring valuables inside. Deterrence is the first step in reducing crime. Exterior cameras can be especially helpful. Having exterior lights on is great, but motion detector lights are very effective.
  • If you see something, say something.

Meeting participants shared their concerns and questions:

  • Cathy told a story about a neighbor who used an anonymous tip line that led to an arrest for breaking and entering. She mentioned Reports.com as a good resource. Detective Dolan said that’s good for following up on finding out what may have happened on your street if you saw police cars but don’t know what had happened. You can either call anonymously or come to the station, but communication is key.
  • Cathy said her neighbors sometimes expect her, a block watch captain, to call about their crimes. She also said that ever since she went through the Hamden Police Citizens Academy, she is more likely to call the police if she has seen something suspicious. Dolan said the police are always looking for people who want to form block watches.
  • Is there anything that can be done if a junked car has been left on the street? Yes, the police can look into it, and if it is there illegally, it can be “red-tagged” and towed.
  • Laine Harris asked if the police can do anything when a commercial or municipal neighbor dumps the snow from their property, sometimes across a road or highway, onto your property. Sgt. Testa said he wasn’t sure but it could be an infraction which would lead to a ticket. The best option is to try to talk to whoever is paying the snow removal contractor.
  • Leaving a television on, with a timer, can make your house more secure when you are away on vacation.

Introduction of Justin Farmer.  Justin Farmer, Whitneyville’s new representative on the Hamden Legislative Council, thanked everyone for their support and spoke briefly about his goals for the year.

State Budget Update.  State Rep. Mike D’Agostino said many of the progressive budget ideas that the WCA and he wanted to see enacted this year will not be enacted due to partisan gridlock. One issue was the car tax. Towns can now bill 39 mils for car taxes but no more than that. And the state was going to reimburse the difference the maximum car tax and a municipalities actual mil rate, but will not because of nonspecific budget language and state budget shortfalls. For Hamden, that’s a loss of $2 million. Efforts are being made to fix the budget language compelling the state to release these funds. Contact your representatives and Sen. Martin Looney asking them to fix the car tax issue.

Halting all transportation projects in the state: Why is Governor Malloy doing this? The transportation fund is taken from the gas tax, but the money coming in from the gas tax has gone down due to lower usage of gasoline. Can instituting tolls help? Yes, but most politicians, especially Republicans, don’t want to introduce new taxes, but Mike finds this attitude highly frustrating. He wants the leadership to at least call for a vote. He believes that will happen this year.

Adding factors like special education and ELL (English Language Learners) into the state budget education formula now has a lot of momentum in Hartford. Towns can bring forward a legal argument that their educational funding is not constitutionally adequate. Hamden is certainly in a position, due to decreases in funding, to make that argument.

The ECS (Education Cost Sharing) formula was changed somewhat this year to recognize that all towns do not need a share of ECS, or do not need the same amount per pupil. A town like Hamden certainly needs more per pupil than Greenwich does, largely due to special education, ELL, and a roughly 50% free or reduced lunch population.

Adjournment.  Dave thanked the guest speakers and adjourned the meeting at 8:45.