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.