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.
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