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, or email Dale at 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.