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.

January 18 Meeting Announcement

Whitneyville Civic Association meeting

January 18, 7:00-9:00 pm

Hamden Board of Education
60 Putnam Ave

Agenda:

  • Detective Sean Dolan, Hamden Police Department
  • State Rep. Mike D’Agostino
  • Updates from WCA Committees
  • Upcoming Event:  Whitneyville Branch Library “Take Your Child to the Library” on February 3 at 10:30 am

 

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.

Upcoming Free Event at the Whitneyville Branch Library

Save the Date!  February 3, 2018

Please mark your calendar for:

Morning in the Stacks:  Children’s Author Deborah Freedman
Saturday, February 3, 2018 from 10:30 am to 11:30 am
Book reading, family activity, and celebration of National Carrot Cake Day!
At the Whitneyville Branch Library, 125 Carleton Street

We hope you can attend this free family event to celebrate our local authors and local library!

Co-sponsored by the Hamden Public Library and Whitneyville Civic Association

 

Upcoming events at the Whitneyville Branch Library

Please mark your calendar for upcoming neighborhood events at the Whitneyville Branch of the Hamden Public Library.  We hope you can attend these free events to celebrate our local authors and local library!

Evening in the Stacks:  Poetry with Bruce Coffin
Thursday, November 30, 2017 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Poetry reading, light refreshments and nourishing conversations with your neighbors

Morning in the Stacks:  Children’s Author Deborah Freedman
Saturday, February 3, 2018 from 10:30 am to 11:30 am
Book reading, family activity, and celebration of National Carrot Cake Day

Both events at the Whitneyville Branch Library, 125 Carleton Street, and are co-sponsored by the Hamden Public Library and Whitneyville Civic Association.

 

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.

 

Mayor’s Night Out

Mayor Curt Balzano Leng will be hosting a “Mayor’s Night Out” event on Monday, October 23rd, from 6pm – 8pm at the Board of Education Headquarters, located at 60 Putnam Avenue, Hamden, CT 06517. The Mayor will be available for dialogue and citizen input on neighborhood as well as Town-wide issues in an informal coffee hour type setting.

The goal of this initiative is to provide greater accessibility to the Mayor throughout the community and foster a direct connection with residents. “Mayor’s Night Out” will continue to be held in various Hamden neighborhoods throughout the coming
months.

For further information, please contact Information & Research Officer, Patrick J. Donnelly at (203) 287-7009 or by email at pdonnelly@hamden.com