Category Archives: Minutes

May 2018 Meeting Minutes

May 17, 2018 Meeting Notes

Welcome.  President Dave Bechtel called the meeting to order at 7:10.  Board members introduced themselves.  Treasurer Deb Maldonado showed everyone new WCA membership cards that can serve as proof of membership to vote at meetings.

Elections.  WCA elections were held for Vice President and Secretary:

  • Connie Matheson was unanimously elected to Vice President.
  • Mark Foran was unanimously elected to Secretary.

Committee Updates.  WCA committee updates included:

  • Library Committee: Connie reported that on April 27 the Books and Booze fundraiser was held. Like last year, the event was a great success, more than 70 in attendance, great involvement of the local merchants in support of a raffle, and most importantly the event raised $2,300 for the library. Last year’s fundraiser funded many great additions to the library including children’s activities, books, films, and learning materials.
  • Music Committee. Jan Kasienko announced that the 5th year of the WCA summer music series will begin in June. June 13 is jazz, July 11 is a singalong, and August 8 is classical. Times are 6-8 pm at Denicola Park on Treadwell Street, and the committee is still working on a rain location. Scott Matheson suggested renting a large tent in case of rain; Janet said that would be considered.

Presentation by Julie Smith, Director of Arts and Culture for Hamden.  Julie Smith introduced herself and said she sees her job as promoting arts as an economic development driver for the town, to entice people and businesses to Hamden as it is a great place to live. She presented the following points:

  • Hamden has a lot of great artists, many phenomenal painters, writers, musicians, etc. The town is trying to create a cultural centerpiece in the town center. The question is how to spread the word not only within Hamden but also regionally.
  • This year’s summer outdoor concerts in town center will focus more on local talent and will have a jazz night for the first time. This year will also feature reggae, disco, and 70s rock.
  • Julie suggested that the WCA and other groups send information on neighborhood events like the Summer Music Concerts to her and she will promote them.

Presentation by Mark Austin, Hamden Town Engineer.  Mark Austin talked about the proposals for Mather and Waite Street bridge redesign. In the past the proposed project was criticized for being inappropriate for the neighborhood, and the town lost the grant money that would have funded it. This year that same grant pool was not funded by the state, but it will take three years for design and approval, so the town is starting the input process now in hopes of qualifying for grants in future and having citizen support moving forward.

Using a response poll requesting opinions and ideas for the project, Mark said he has already received a lot of responses from the public indicating what they want to see in this project. Anyone can respond; the link is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3NJ867X. Currently, responses are 50-50 from Spring Garden and Whitneyville.

Mark opened up the floor for input.  Questions and suggestions included the following:

  • The previous plan was to widen the bridge for truck traffic. Is that the plan this time? Mark’s response: To get funding outside of the local government, projects must provide for access to trucks.
  • Given the age and condition of the bridges, the best course is to close both structures at the same time during construction. Also, it is key that the town ensure there is not diminished water capacity in the neighborhood. Mark’s response: Ensuring water capacity is required and standard in any project of this nature.
  • Will there be sidewalks? Mark’s response: The current conceptual plan shows sidewalks from both the north and south that will be connected to newly built sidewalk extensions on Waite and Mather.
  • Will there be a stop sign on Mather at Waite? Is this an opportunity to add one between Dixwell and Whitney to slow down traffic, because this is something the residents of Mather feel strongly about. Mark noted that as a suggestion,
  • The town can put lights on the bridges, not huge cobra lights but pedestrian sized lighting.
  • The ongoing challenge to solving traffic issues is that Mather is viewed as a pass-through, and Whitney is a state road, and the neighborhood as a result loses walkability. Mark’s response: There are limited east-west through streets in this area of Hamden, but there is discussion at the state level of turning roads like Whitney into local roads — and in fact that has long been a state recommendation — but the state ignores their own recommendations.
  • Cheshire has a stoplight pedestrians can press to stop traffic just for pedestrians. Mark’s response: There are two different ways to accomplish this, but he is not sure which mechanism would work.
  • The town should widen the bridge but not the road! Mark’s response: The roads can stay narrow, and will be required to have guard rails.
  • What will be the aesthetics of the projects? Mark’s response: Stone or faux stone can be used to improve the look of the project.
  • One concern is the rise of the road on Mather as it approaches Dixwell due to speeding. The road there is already raised enough. Mark’s response: He has a concern about the aesthetics of that idea, and suggested that the rise creates a separation between the industrial nature of Dixwell and the Whitneyville neighborhood.
  • Is the town trying to modify poor driver behavior? Can the police increase their enforcement of traffic laws? Wouldn’t that be more cost effective? Can stop signs help slow down speeders? Mark’s response: The Hamden police have been stepping up their enforcement. Another way to slow traffic and increase safety is to construct a three-way stop at the Waite-Mather intersection. That would slow down traffic as would a circle in that location.

Mark also announced that Hamden received a $2.8 million grant for various sidewalk improvements including Davis Street and Treadwell Street to the bike trail. He also noted the schedules for replacing sidewalks in Hamden, which unfortunately has a very long list of streets.  One person asked about Caroline Street, which needs serious help.  Mark stated that repairs are prioritized by when the complaint is received by the town. They are placed on a to-do list and handled sequentially. The only way around that system is when a street poses an imminent danger from an engineering perspective. Caroline Street is on the to-do list. To get a street on the list, go to Hamden.com and find the link to the street complaint app.

New Business.  Dave asked participants if they had any new business.  One participant noted the recent incident at the Children’s Center; he had expected this to be a topic of tonight’s meeting.  Dave acknowledged that citizens were concerned about recent events connected to the Children’s Center, and brought up the idea of a community discussion of the issue. He said the subject was not on the agenda tonight (the speakers had been engaged prior to the incident), but the WCA will be working on setting up a meeting that approaches the ongoing issues with a broader perspective.  There was a recent meeting between several residents, the Children’s Center and the Hamden Police which could serve as a model.

Other participants suggested trimming trees along Putnam Street (they can submit request via See-Click-Fix at http://www.hamden.com/seeclickfix), and supporting a neighborhood clean-up.  The WCA had sponsored clean-up days in past years but had low participation.

Adjournment.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:50.

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.

NOVEMBER 2017 MEETING NOTES

November 16, 2017 Whitneyville Civic Association Meeting 

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

Board members and those in attendance introduced themselves and stated which street they live on.

Announcements.  Dave let people know about the Evening in the Stacks event coming up on November 30th at 6 pm at the library. Also, the library has been painted, which is good news, although the trellis, which was an architectural feature, was determined to be too rotted to be used.

Guest Speaker Mayor Curt Leng.  As  Mayor Curt Leng arrived, Dave outlined some issues that citizens who could not attend hoped the Mayor would address.

The Mayor opened by addressing the issues that Dave mentioned:

  • Library Painting.  He reported that the town had not planned to take down the trellis when painting the library, so he would look into whether there is any way to repair and reuse it.
  • Parking.  He said that if there is a way to expand parking on and near Whitney Avenue, he is in favor of it.  
  • Food trucks.  Food trucks do not need permits if they are short term, but if the truck is there long term, it will be treated as a permanent structure. Laine Harris, founder of Whitneyville Cultural Commons, said the town planning and zoning needs to develop ordinances and regulations for food trucks. Eventually this will be brought forward into the public arena, discussed and voted on, he added.
  • Neighborhood Business Area. Signage would be a welcome addition to enhance and identify the business area. There are some plans that were created and they need to be brought out and looked at again, the Mayor said.
  • Library Improvements.  $50,000, plus money that the state has just released, will be granted for future library improvements, the Mayor announced.
  • Rental rebate program. In the past, the Mayor said, $50 to $900 was available from the state for rebates for poor, elderly, and disabled citizens to help with rent, but the state recently passed a law releasing the funds but also requiring that municipalities pay half of what was promised with the funds being taken out of grant monies.
  • Sidewalks. The Mayor listed new improvements that will be coming to Whitneyville. The town just got a $3 million grant to fill gaps in sidewalks in the Treadwell street area, but the sidewalks along Mather will be dealt with in a different grant round.
  • Traffic calming.  Police enforcement actions have been tripled and quadrupled this year across the town to ensure that drivers know the town is being vigilant in stopping drivers and warning or ticketing them if they exceed speed limits, he said.
  • Street Lighting. United Illuminating (UI) was offering lighting upgrades that would use 4,000 kelvin bulbs which is 1000 kelvin more on the color spectrum than what is recommended by the American Medical Association.  UI was not supportive of efforts to change to 3000k bulbs, but eventually has agreed to listen to the community and recently held an educational meeting. The town is now considering whether it can purchase the street lights, saving the town  $300,000+ dollars, and giving Hamden residents a big improvement in their street lighting (this has been done in towns in the Eversource region).

The meeting was opened up for citizen input. Some of the items discussed include the following:

  • Concerns were raised about unsafe intersections. An example is the left turn from the Putnam Street extension onto Whitney Street where there is no left turn signal. Mayor Leng made a note to study that issue.
  • Farmington Canal Path safety. Hamden’s Police Chief says that when the path is being used, it is the safest place in Hamden. That said, there was a recent deadly shooting just off the path on a side street. Not much is known about the incident specifics. The Mayor said emergency call boxes along the trail definitely increase path users sense of safety and helps to get information quickly to police, helping to solve crimes.
  • Policy on signs.  No signs are allowed on UI poles, but signs are also not allowed anywhere between yards and a street. For various reasons, this is a tough regulation to enforce.
  • Parking on Whitney Avenue near business district. Kari Nordstrom said he had created a plan to show parking on Whitney Avenue, but the Department of Transportation (DOT) strongly opposed the idea. A compromise was proposed to create a cut-out to allow five cars. The Mayor said a cut-out might be more appealing to DOT. Liz Hellwig said the business community is in favor of more parking but not in front of the businesses which would block the sight lines.
  • Canal as economic driver. Mikro, a craft beer pub, is relocating to take advantage of the access and open space of the canal pathway. The Mayor said he thought this would attract more businesses to open along the canal.

Adjournment.  President Dave Bechtel thanked Mayor Leng for his presence and participation and adjourned the meeting at 8:30 p.m.

SEPTEMBER 2017 MEETING NOTES

September 21, 2017 Whitneyville Civic Association Meeting

Welcome.  President Dave Bechtel welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the Board members and Committee chairs. Dave announced, on behalf of Library Committee, that the library event held in the spring raised $2,443, and Maureen has gotten the funds and has started to allocate it for use.

Committee Updates.  Mark Foran gave the Traffic committee update. In light of all these apartments going in on Mather, Mark did three days of car counting to get a baseline to see how traffic is impacted once they are fully opened. Also discovered that the average speed on Mather is 36 mph. Highest was in the forties, but most were in the mid 30s. Speed is an issue, while capacity is not. Mark’s suggestion was speed tables on cut-through streets. The bridge over the canal can be dropped to help with safety. And the service road could be permanently open to relieve traffic on Mather.

A Music Jam recap was given by Former President Jan Kazienko. The three concerts went very smoothly. The anchor musicians were given money for the first time and this was appreciated.  The committee will have a wrap-up meeting where we hope to have more new ideas.

Secretary Deirdre Dolan gave an update on progress with the National Wildlife Foundation’s Backyard Habitat project. Five Whitneyville residents have already expressed an interest in getting involved in the project. There is a sign-up sheet for anyone else who would like to join the committee.

So far two yards in Whitneyville have been designated as certified Backyard Habitats. We will have to officially register Whitneyville and have a consultation with an National Wildlife Foundation representative to find out how many homes, parks, and public buildings will be needed to qualify for Community Wildlife Habitat status. It costs $100 to register, so that’s something the committee will need to do: raise the registration fee.

Only two CT towns are currently certified: Willimantic and Colchester.  There’s a piece of information we are really going to need and can’t find: how many people live in Whitneyville?  Many in attendance recommended using Census tract data.

Guest SpeakerDale Kroop, Hamden’s Director of Economic and Community Development, gave an update on economic development work in the neighborhood. He suggested that citizens visit his website,  http://www.hamden-ct.com/default.asp or email Dale at dkroop@hamden.com to sign up to get his emails.

Dale said the retail marketplace forecast is that by 2022 most shopping malls will be closed. By contrast, Hamden has the lowest retail vacancy rate in the region.

Other information from Dale included:

  • First Niagra building is now under contract with a New Haven boutique.
  •  On Mather, 80 units of affordable housing in a low-rise building are being built across from the larger apartment development.
  •  Other new businesses are going in as a result of the new residential development on Mather.
  •  The town’s job is to balance the needs of people and the marketplace.
  •  Putnam Place Plaza, where Stop and Shop was located, is left with a big hole. The  Shopping Center owners are looking for viable tenants who will be able pay their bills. Location, demographics, and zero foot traffic (nearby homes and businesses) may call for alternative uses, for example, a school or nonprofits.

Secretary Deirdre Dolan had to leave, but made a quick announcement:  Leonard Young, 12 Augur Street, belongs to Gimme Shelter which raises funds & awareness for Hamden’s Animal Control Gift Fund to design, build & staff a new Animal Shelter.

Their next event is this Saturday and it has a Whitneyville theme: wines from Wine 101 and food from Le Petit Gourmet! The event will be from 2 – 4 PM at a private residence on Blake Road. See the flyer on the other side of the dais for more information.

Vice-President Connie Matheson resumed taking minutes for the remainder of the meeting.

Dale Kroop continued his overview of economic development projects on Dixwell Avenue.  He discussed a number of completed projects and reviewed the scope and status of vacant buildings and properties.  He summarized the history of the former Hamden Middle School site and presented details of the current redevelopment plan including 57 units of mixed income housing, a community center and the abatement of the contaminated elements of the site. He then switched to Whitney Avenue speaking mainly about the repurposing of the Centerville Lumber site.

Dale stated that about 50 percent of his time is spent on small business development, coaching (some of our Whitneyville business owners were mentioned) and working with “solopreneurs” in nine industry clusters that meet several times during the year.  He closed by suggesting that we check out his website for full details.

LED Street Light Update.  Bob Pattison and Christina Crowder, from Spring Glen Association, gave an update on the work that they have been doing with regard to the LED street light conversion proposed by United Illuminating (UI). Their research has presented further concerns about what the “right’ fixture would actually be.  They have also spoken to towns who have been able to purchase the light fixtures from the utility and contract privately for maintenance, recognizing about a 50% savings. They have a proposal in front of the Mayor and hope to meet with him soon.  A public meeting on this topic is being planned.

Adjournment.  Dave adjourned the meeting at 9:30.

 

MAY 2017 MEETING MINUTES

Whitneyville Civic Association

At 7:05 the meeting was called to order by President Janet Kazienko.

Tonight is Janet’s last meeting after her two years in office. Janet thanked the board and said she learned a lot on the job, but she’s happy to be passing the baton. She said her husband, especially, is relieved her tenure is over.

  • Conflict with Ridge Hill PTA meeting. Our meeting will potentially move from the 2nd to 3rd Thursday of the month.
  • Library Fundraiser. Dave Bechtel said the Library fundraiser brought in $2000, and was a lot of fun and great for the community. Maureen Armstrong will work on a check ceremony with the town library board. New trees were recently planted as part of the refurbishment.
  • Treasurers report: $1,664.81 and $3,848.82 in our accounts, including the library fund raiser monies.
  • Dave Bechtel was unanimously elected President. Connie Matheson was unanimously elected Vice-President.

Guest Speaker. State Representative Michael D’Agostino spoke.

  • D’Agostino is still trying to change the mechanism for distribution of state funds to schools. The state was ready to announce the new budget, when it learned that quarterly-filer taxes were seriously below projections. Now looking at a 2.5 billion dollar deficit.
  • Over the years, the state did not regularly put money aside to fund the pension obligation. Little is left for discretionary spending. The political reality is that taxes are unlikely to be raised.
  • However, there could be a sales tax increase and regional tax assessments, as are done in other states and are being discussed. No matter what else happens, educational taxes pay for more than just math and English teaching, so Rep. D’Agostino is hoping funds can be diverted from other pots to communities that need it.
  • Budget cuts will hurt state workers who may be laid off, resulting in depleted services and municipal aid.
  • We might not have a budget on June 7, which would give the governor plenary power, and might not be a bad thing since he is not running again.

Citizen Input and Questions.

  • Deirdre Dolan asked if legalized marijuana or toll roads are being considered as potential revenue sources. “Legalized marijuana is interesting,” Rep. D’Agostino said. “I think it will come back into the budget because the money will just end up in Massachusetts or Vermont.” Toll roads could also happen but the money can only be used for transportation which would make the transportation fund solvent, perhaps $100 million in the first few years. Reps from border towns like Danbury don’t like them.
  • Closing the hedge fund loophole will not happen. No appetite in the Senate and the Governor will veto that.
  • Connie Matheson asked, “Should we be making phone calls to support your formula for fairly supporting all the schools?” D’Agostino suggested calling Martin Looney to make sure Hamden gets its educational funding. Courts found that the way Connecticut distributes its educational funds is unconstitutional. This case is now at the state Supreme Court, and the new methodology Rep. D’Agostino is working on would change the formula so ring suburbs like Hamden would get more funding. The new formula forces districts of 1,000 or less students to join with larger districts or lose their funding.
  • Michael Ross noted that we are going to have 380 new households when the new development at Mather and Dixwell opens. What kind of impact will that have? Rep. D’Agostino said it will trigger redistricting as well as adding taxes to the town pot. But a lot depends on whether some of those kids have special needs. The new development is not family housing though; the units are small, single bedroom efficiencies.

Adjournment: President Bechtel adjourned the meeting at 9:00.

 

 

Meeting Minutes: March 9, 2017

Minutes of March 9, 2017 meeting of Whitneyville Civic Association Held at Board of Education Building 60 Putnam Ave., Hamden

President Janet Kazienko called the meeting to order at 7:08.

  • Owner Spotlight: Chris Fiore owner of Wine 101 gave a presentaion about the new business at 1220 Whitney Ave. Unit C. Chris said that he met his partner, Carol Cyr, giving wine tastings to raise money for their childrens’ school. But as they did, they came to believe that wine classes should not be pretentious and, if done right, can open people up to new ideas and learning to be passionate about what they like. The two launched a business which grew through word of mouth as they gave tastings in peoples’ homes. Their store brings in small, eclectic wines and exposes people to new tastes. Customer service is the highest priority. The store also carries craft beer, spirits, and cheese, but the main product is the wine.
  • Elections: Janet announced that elections will take place at the May meeting. The President’s position is open.
  • LED Light Follow-Up: The bulb standard that UI would like is 4,000k, and no alternatives in terms of bulb warmth (measured in k) were previously considered for municipal use. But due to citizen education and activism, now UI is looking at 3000k LED lights, which Hamden may be able to get by waiting until UI has them. Mayor Leng wrote a letter to UI and has been vocally supportive of the warmer lights.
  • Lighting Change: Janet reported that Hamden Hall is requesting a lighting change for their athletic fields that could affect other parks. The town’s next meeting is April 14th.
  • Library Committee: Dave Bechtel reported that the Whitneyville Branch of the Hamden Public Library has a lot of structural issues. The town passed a capital budget with $40,000 for the two branches, and maybe a $15,000 carry over from last year. Also, there will be a tree planted at the branch on Arbor Day which is also when WCA has its spring clean-up. A fundraiser and friendraiser to be held April 21 at the Playwright is also planned. The event will be called Books and Booze.
  • Summer Music Series: A committee met, and decided to stick with the same set-up of three different events in the evenings once a month in June, July, and August at Denicola Park. There were a lot of new ideas that could appeal to a more diverse crowd. The next committee meeting is at Janet’s house on March 19 at 5:00 pm.
  • Backyards for Wildlife: National Wildlife Foundation has a program that is being brought to Whitneyville.  Deirdre Dolan announced that citizens can start anytime by going to the NWF website and signing up. All that’s needed is food, shelter, and water sources for wildlife to qualify to be certified. An effort will be made to advertise to all residents, especially younger people with families who can’t make it to WCA meetings, so they will sign-up   Information sessions can be arranged at the library and at the Hamden Earth Day event.
  • Traffic Committee: Mark Foran spoke about meeting with Mayor Leng and Police Chief Wydra about traffic in the Whitneyville area. They discussed a new roundabout at Ridge and Hartford Turnpike that should make this intersection safer. The town has done a lot of work in Whitneyville, and is now looking at other neighborhoods that need attention. The Traffic Committee has compiled a preliminary list of other traffic calming issues which was discussed. A final draft of this list may be posted on the WCA website.
  • Gardening committee: Liz Hellwig set dates for work at the Pocket Park. May 7, June 11, July 9, Aug. 13, and Sept. 10, all at 8:30 am.
  • Dues: WCA Dues are due and Deb Weckerle can accept them any time.
  • Judy Gordon requested that we ask our government representative to discuss impacts of the budget cuts we will most likely see as a result of expected cuts to the federal budget. Janet agreed that was an excellent idea.

Meeting adjourned by Janet at 8:30

January 2017 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes of the Whitneyville Civic Association

January Meeting, held at the Board of Education building 60 Putnam Ave., January 12, 2017

President Janet Kazienko called meeting to order at 7:08.

Janet said Travis Pittman of Salad Palace was invited to speak and will do so when he gets here.

  • A Bocce Court seems to have showed up in Denicola Park, Michael Ross announced. As Past President of the WCA, he spoke to the Mayor about it, and is trying to find out where it came from.  Janet asked if anyone wanted the WCA to officially react to this, and there was no request made to do so.
  • Library Committee: Dave Bechtel said the committee is following up on the Mayor’s promise to spend $40000 on both braches of the library. Dave said the committee has a great plan, and the Whitneyville branch is now open on Saturdays with consistent hours. The committee is planning a fundraiser, tentatively called “Books and Booze” at the Playwright in early spring.
  • Travis, owner of Salad Palace, talked about the cancer scare that inspired him to change his diet and then opened up Salad Palace to bring healthy food that can change your health, even reverse diabetes. The website is thesaladpalace.com. The menu features many types of healthy salads, smoothies, and juice, and there is a new menu coming up.
  • Janet said she is hoping to see a committee get together to work on changes to the summer music programs that the WCA has offered in the past. She is looking for new ideas. Marc Levenson said he is interested in getting involved.
  • Bob Pattison spoke about the new municipal LED lighting programs going on across the country, which often creating bright, even blinding light in neighborhoods. LED is good, he said, but the color makes a big difference. Light is measured in Kelvin; bright LEDS are heavy on the blue color, and new health studies highlight some of the issues in reference to circadian rhythm disruption and other health hazards. AMA recommends 3000K or lower, warm vs. bright lighting. UI currently wants to use the 4000 Kelvin lights. Marty Mador, head of the towns Energy Use and Climate Change Commission said he is not sure if the lights have been purchased, but Hamden might be getting these lights in May.
  • Dale Kroop, Hamden’s Economic Development Director, said energy is an issue that has been handled ad hoc. He would like to see the Energy Use and Climate Change commission work toward an action plan. Janet said she had contacted Teresa Eller at UI, but she could not come, but when Dave Bechtel and Michael Ross went to her, she made it clear that UI is working with towns, yet asking municipal leaders about lumens, but not color. Danny Kazienko stressed that it is not the brightness, it is the color, the blue color, that is disruptive.
  • Traffic Committee: Mark Foran said the committee had no report but was seeking input from residents. Marty mentioned issues with Augur, Street. Mark said Augur really has been left out on some of the changes and yet has some real issues. A chicane was proposed for that street, a good idea but it was never implemented. It would be at a 25 mile per hour speed limit. What Mark would like to do is create a visual representation of what this would look like. The Traffic Committee will be meeting sometime in the next month.

Deb Weckerle announced a book giveaway for teachers.

Jen Brosious announced several benefit events that are upcoming at the Whitneyville Cultural Commons and the Yoga Center.

Janet adjourned the meeting at 8:20.

 

September 2016 Members Meeting Minutes

Minutes of September 8, 2016 Meeting of the Whitneyville Civic Association

Held in the Board of Education building on Putnam Ave. in Whitneyville

President Janet Kazienko called the meeting to order at 7:05. Janet introduced the board members and said the WCA is always looking for new committee members.

Dave Bechtel gave an update on the Library Committee, which has been doing a lot of work. The committee has held four meetings to develop a plan to refurbish the Whitneyville branch of Hamden Library. The committee had a walk through. Kari, who has experience in this type of work, created a plan that included library restoration and landscape improvements. The idea is to keep the budget to a minimum so it can feasibility be done by the town. The plan also shows development phases so the town could approve and fund in phases.

The committee sent out a survey, where they learned that the number one community priority was improving the exterior. They were hoping to present the plan to the mayor, but instead presented it to Julie Smith who will take the information back to the mayor. As of this meeting, the committee hasn’t heard back from her, although they have been emailing and working to get a response.

The committee will focus next on marketing and fund raising. The committee offered copies of the plan to people at the meeting.

Some library news: Saturday hours have been initiated starting this Saturday. The hours are 10-1.

Mayor Curt Leng responded to the committee report with some news: The town has some funding for libraries. “Not enough,” but the mayor said the town has allocated, “50,000 for both neighborhood branches,” but the town is not ruling out other options such as moving the library into the Board of Ed building.

The traffic committee report was up next. Janet said she was really excited about the work this traffic committee is doing as “it is a standing committee, not just putting out fires.” She encouraged everyone to read the report. Anyone interested can email any member of the board for a copy.

Deb has envelopes for people who need to pay their membership dues. The cost is $10 per household.

Whitneyville Fall Festival will take place on September 10, Janet announced. The WCA will have a table.

A three-part WCA event called Summer Music Slams were mostly successful this past summer, although “there were a few bumps,” Janet said. Over the winter these events will be recalibrated to ensure that they are even more appealing to the neighborhood.

The Hamden Land Trust has a wine tasting coming up.

The president turned to the topic of a recent gun shot incident on Ralston Avenue connected to a late-night teen dance at the Whitneyville Cultural Commons, 1253 Whitney Ave. Janet said she the WCA wish to remain neutral on the issue while allowing citizens and WCC representatives to speak their opinions and be heard by Mayor Leng.

Laine Harris, owner of the WCC property, introduced himself and offered to answer questions.

Liz Hellwig said she had attended a meeting with the Mayor on this subject with representatives from all sides of the issue where Mr. Harris had shared new policies that he said would prevent an incident like this from happening agin. She asked if Laine could share these new policies with everyone at the meeting.

Laine passed out printouts of these new policies and elaborated on them, stressing all of the efforts being made by the WCA to make a positive contribution to the community and increase safety at all WCA events.

Mickey Koth, also a Ralston Ave. resident, said the teen dance on August 4 was inappropriate and should never have been approved in the first place. She described the incident as terrifying. “As a resident of Ralston Avenue,” as long as the WCC operates and holds events, she said, “I am scared.” Ms. Koth wanted to know more about the grant that the WCC had recently won, and if this meant that the state would be paying for development at the site.

Leah Glaser, WCC Board member and a Whitneyville resident of many years, said the grant will be used to hire preservation specialists who will guide the WCC on how to preserve the historical integrity of the building. “It has nothing to do with development,” she said. The Town of Hamden had to be the official applicant for this grant as the WCC was not yet a 501(3)(c) as designated by the IRS.

Richard Kissel said he knew there would be issues at the WCC even before the gunshots. He said he gets concerned when he hears that because the air conditioning is fixed, now there won’t be any problems. The WCC management shows a lack of understanding of how to run events, something Mr. Kissel is very experienced with. The WCC is not here for the neighborhood, he said. They are here to make money for the sake of their members. There is a serious lack of communication on the WCC’s part, and no knowledge of how to effectively communicate.

Next, Eric Hensey spoke. He said he doesn’t live on Ralston and he can’t understand what it must have been like for the neighbors who lived through this. He said he moved to this area for the community, and such a strong sense of community is a rare thing. Mr. Hensey said he understands what Laine is trying to do, and if the WCC isn’t here it would create a negative impact on the community. “Laine understands that no one should be scared,” Mr. Hensey said, and he is hopeful that the WCC can be successful.

Deb Weckert, who owns the house next to the public parking lot, said she has been trying to “be in the middle.” She never called the cops when music was too loud at the WCC, but she got the idea that this party was going to be a questionable event even before it started due to poor planning. Sending the kids into the neighborhood to “get permission” to hold the dance was a terrible idea. Now she has lost all trust in the WCC, and feels they are walking “a fine line.” Now she, “lives in fear, and she knows that she is “just one of a group of very angry neighbors.”

Marta Borates lives on Ralston, three doors from WCC. There have been liquor bottles on her property. Her car was broken into. “ This is a very caring neighborhood,” she said.

Mark Denelo, a long time resident, said this was his first time at a WCA meeting. He said. The fact that Laine is here says something.” The WCC is a growing and thriving business community that will require some accommodation as it grows.”

Mr. Kissel said he is still not seeing any movement on safety, and he feels no more reassured then when he first came to the meeting.

Mayor Leng, sees the WCC as a positive for the town and tried to work with the people involved to make sure that the noise ordinances, although it is not enforceable, was being followed. The police department has broad jurisdiction over nuisance issues. The changes WCC is putting into place: the time when events end, the parking, and changes to public lots to accomodate events – should make a difference, whether or not police are required, at events.

Mayor Leng said he doesn’t think there will be many events where police will be needed, but the town has agreed to have an officer at the end of the night for certain events. Whitneyville is a special neighborhood. The WCC can be part of that, he said.

The Mayor reminded everyone to report all suspicious incidents, and said he offers himself or his constituent services person 24 hours a day if there are any problems.

Leah Glaser said that although “this incident makes me sick,” she believes that the historical buildings are crucial for the future of the neighborhood.”

Marta Borates suggested better lighting and asked the Mayor to consider this idea.

Andrew Shapiro, a coworker at WCC, said hearing shots fired in your neighborhood is horrible, but the WCC will improve, and over time this situation will be better.

Janet said she thought the meeting had gone well, and asked people to stay after the meeting to ask each other questions that had not already been answered.

 

May meeting minutes, 5/12/16

Maureen Armstrong, Hamden Public Library

  • Daisy scouts are planting around the sign
  • Additional minor work is being done
  • Materials budget was cut by mayor and council, attending council meetings is a good way to support library
  • Programming for adults, including one-on-one computer classes, meditation, cooking & nutrition
  • Miller has Tuesday movie matinee, museum passes can now be booked online
  • Get newsletter online or at the library for more details
  • Summer Reading Program is starting soon
  • Many resources can be accessed from home via the library’s home page http://hamdenlibrary.org
  • Question: Saturday and evening hours? Staffing shortage was the problem, they might resume in the fall as positions are refilled

Update on letter to and meeting with Mayor about the physical state of the Whitneyville Branch. Several ideas were discussed, should WCA have a library committee? Contact Dave if interested, vice-president@whitneyville.org.

Gardening club work dates:
Liz has the schedule of Sunday mornings. Broader participation would enable more projects. May 22, June 19, July 24, August 1, September 18 – meet at the Pocket Park.

Spring litter pick-up this weekend. Supplies will be distributed Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9:00 – 10:00 am in the Ralston/Whitney parking lot. Bring filled bags back by 3:00 pm Sunday for the town to pick up.

Hamden Land Conservation Trust is having a photo contest with a deadline of 5/23/16 (see link under Town of Hamden resources above).

Update on letters (see Letters section above).

Elections:
Vice-President 2017-2018, Dave Bechtel
Secretary 2017-2018, Diedre Dolan
Traffic issues discussion:
People who were working on traffic need to step back and we need more people. Moira, Mark, Julie Dowd, and Liz volunteered.

Some work has been done on traffic calming, including Mather / Waite improvements this spring.

Trish and Leah have worked on Mather St. traffic since 2008, worked with Scott Jackson to get the traffic study (linked above) done and the five-points intersection at King/Belmont/Mather improved.

Truck traffic from Mather St. construction has some options, but work early on is important (is there a construction traffic management plan filed?).

Important to comment on the new Plan of Conservation & Development still under development.

Other announcements:
Community investment fund grants (two $30,000 grants pending) need to be approved by the town to ensure the funds are secured.

Two cars stolen in the past month, some of this is seasonal. See prior notes from Sgt. Testa and Chief Wydra for crime prevention tips. Keeping cars, doors, and windows locked is key, as is reporting anything suspicious.

It’s pothole season! Report them to the town helpdesk or see-click-fix. The more reports the more likely they will be filled promptly.

Update from Laine on Whitneyville Cultural Commons. The 501(c)(3) application is pending with IRS – could hear any time now. The zoning changes have gone through, and the variances to merge the two parcels has also gone through. This means that discussions of parking on the Putnam end of the property are revived.

It’s New Haven Bike Month, and there are free breakfasts on Fridays – at Yale Art Gallery tomorrow, Pitkin Plaza next week.

State budget update from Rep. Mike D’Agostino: budget is passed in the special session. There are changes to how the car tax works which will result in slightly more revenue to the town and slightly lower car taxes. Hamden is coming out of the hard budget year with a positive.