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.