Please join us on Thursday, January 17 at 7:00 pm at the Hamden Board of Education, 60 Putnam Avenue, for our next Whitneyville Civic Association meeting. Our local state representative, Mike D’Agostino will discuss the upcoming legislative session and answer your questions.
More than 30 people packed the Whitneyville Branch Library last evening for the latest “Evening in the Stacks” event co-sponsored by the Civic Association and Hamden Public Library. Bruce Coffin, read excerpts from The Long Light of Those Days, his memoir about growing up in Woodstock, Vermont.
The event featured great conversations with neighbors and the author, book signing, and delicious snacks (including homemade donuts from our favorite librarian).
Mark your calendars for our next event on Saturday morning, February 9, featuring award-winning local children’s author, Deborah Freedman.
Town Center Park in Hamden will be filled with holiday lights and community merrymaking on Sat. Dec. 1st for Hamden’s Annual Silverbells Holiday Celebration. See http://www.hamden.com/qcontent/NewsFeed.aspx?FeedID=3704 for details.
Join us for a post-Thanksgiving neighborhood gathering at the Whitneyville Branch Library to enjoy a book reading, light refreshments, and nourishing conversations with your friends and neighbors.
Bruce Coffin, who gave a poetry reading last fall as part of our “Evening in the Stacks” series, is back by popular demand to read from his memoir about growing up in Vermont.
The final plan for the Mill River Watershed was released this fall. You can see the full plan at: http://www.ctenvironment.org/what-we-do/saving-sound-rivers/restoration-project-gallery/mill-river-watershed-management-plan/.
To learn more about the Mill River Watershed Plan or upcoming events, please contact Nicole Davis at email@example.com.
Welcome. President Dave Bechtel opened the meeting at 7:07.
- Dave noted that public meetings on the Hamden Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) will be held on November 24th and December 18th. He urged members to attend and express their views.
- Dave noted that Wine 101 was celebrating their second anniversary with wine tastings on Friday and Saturday.
- Dave stated that the meeting at the Children’s Center had been well received and well attended. Connie Matheson noted that the October community meeting with the Children’s Center had been cancelled. Updates on the Children’s Center will be presented as they arise. Dave noted that the state’s only locked facility for minors is closed and that about 60 children who need that environment are being placed elsewhere in the system on a temporary basis.
- Dave and Mike Lockett (Ridge Hill Civic Association) met with Mayor Leng, who provided an update regarding the new street lights. An application has been made to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to permit towns to purchase their own street lights. This may improve negotiations with United Illuminating in the future.
Committee Updates. WCA committee updates included:
- Treasurer. The WCA has $1,089 in the bank. The Garden Committee has $347 saved. All Whitneyville residents are invited to join the WCA as voting members.
- Library Committee. Connie noted the upcoming free, neighborhood gathering on November 29th at 7:00 pm in the Whitneyville Branch Library. Bruce Coffin will do a reading from his memoir, The Long Light of Those Days. Snacks will be available.
Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD):
- The plan is revised every 10 years. Dave noted that the town’s November and December meetings are an opportunity for public input. He then opened a discussion regarding what members of the WCA wanted to see in the plan. A lively discussion by the membership ensued.
The following issues were raised in the discussion:
- Expanded regionalization of services. The regional Health District was cited as a successful example.
- Improved mass transit, including consideration of different modes, such as trolley and monorail.
- Improved parking in the business district, including the possibility of a parking structure with ground level businesses if a location can be identified.
- Traffic calming improvements on Whitney Avenue.
- Adding a left turn arrow at the intersection of Putnam Avenue and Newhall Street.
- Fill in of gaps in the sidewalk network.
- Improved access to the Farmington Canal State Park Trail.
- Examination of alternatives for the reuse of the Board of Education (BOE) Building should the BOE relocate.
- Public access to Lake Whitney, including kayaking.
- A town-wide tree planting plan.
- Continued farmland preservation in the town.
- Creation of passive recreational space on the Powder Farm property.
The discussion also included issues related to improving the Whitneyville community in general. Suggestions included:
- A Halloween parade for children
- Movie Night at DeNicola Park
- A town-wide community calendar
- Business of the Month promotions
- A winter social event
- Possibility of making the Ralston Street New Year’s Ball Droop as an official event
- Consideration of possible locations for sledding
- Dave noted that he had invited Representative Mike D’Agostino to speak at the January meeting regarding the new gubernatorial administration and General Assembly. (Mike subsequently accepted.)
- Mark Foran has contact information for a retired Hamden firefighter who has a presentation on the history of the Hamden Fire Department. His recent appearance at the Dunbar Civic Association was well received.
Adjournment. The meeting adjourned at 8:15.
September 20, 2018 Meeting Notes
Welcome. This meeting was held at the Children’s Center of Hamden, 1400 Whitney Avenue. President Dave Bechtel called the meeting to order about 7:10. He welcomed everyone and thanked the Children’s Center for hosting the meeting and providing the snacks and beverages.
- Michael Ross has resigned as Chair of the Library Committee
- At the Board of Ed Operations committee meeting on Monday, September 24, there will be a presentation of the revised report from the consultants working on “Rethink, Restructure, Revise” plan for Hamden schools. The meeting will be at 7:00 pm at the Hamden Middle School.
- There will be a Town-Wide Forum on LED Streetlights – Sat. Sept. 29, 2-4pm, Hamden High School. Room C-107.
Committee Updates. WCA committee updates included:
- Music Committee. Dave reviewed the very well attended summer 2018 series. He also reported that Jan Kazienko, who has chaired the music committee for several years has resigned and Deidre Dolan will be the new chair. New committee members are always welcome so think about it and watch for meeting announcements later this year.
- Library Committee: WCA vice president Connie Mattheson reported that in July, the Committee members presented a check to the Library Director and Board for $2,350, proceeds from the Books and Booze fundraiser for the Whitneyville Branch Library. The Committee will meet in October to make plans for this year’s events and to choose a new chair. Any new members are welcome.
Program: Dave introduced the program, noting that the Children’s Center is a very visible part of our community and yet many of us don’t really know what they do. He introduced Dan Lyga (Chief Executive Officer), and turned the program over to Dan. Dan introduced Cheryl Smith (Chief Operating Officer), Sarah Lockery (Director of Development and Community Relations) and Detective Stephen Rossacci (Hamden Police Department liaison to the Children’s Center).
Dan started with the history of the Children’s Center, showing the evolution of locations and services provided for the past 185 years:
- 1833: Began as an orphanage, New Haven Orphan Asylum, the first child caring facility in Connecticut;
- 1925: Moved to current location in Hamden;
- 1940’s-50’s: Added medical care for children with polio;
- Served as adoption agency for a period of time;
- 1960’s – 1980’s: Added treatment for children with behavioral health and substance abuse issues: and
- 1990’s – 2005: Provided services and treatment with heavy emphasis on residential treatment. (100+ youth sleeping onsite and 45 day-program slots.)
Cheryl provided more detail on the programs and services provided in recent years and helped us understand how the evolution of research and theories of treatment impact what services and programs the Center provides.
- Currently (2018) has 47 beds and almost 100 served in day programs. This clearly demonstrates the shift from congregate care to day programs since 2005.
- Currently there are nine discreet programs currently administered by the Children’s Center.
- Program types vary from Clinical Day school, to Outpatient Substance Abuse to Crisis Stabilization and full Residential Treatment.
- The number of clients, the age ranges, and the gender vary by program.
- The average stay varies from 3 days to 12 months and one small group home serves adult women as long as needed.
- The Center also offers a number of programs for the children in addition to treatment and school. These include culinary arts, music and a gardening/ healthy eating / farmers’ market activity.
Detective Rossacci explained his role as police liaison officer. He discussed his types of engagement and interaction with the children and the Center and clarified what the police can and cannot do:
- Clarified laws regarding stopping juveniles. Per a 2005 law, staff at the Children’s Center are not allowed by law to physically restrain youth from leaving unless they are a threat to themselves or others. That is why people may see staff following a young person trying to convince them to return to the Center.
- Shared broader juvenile justice problems seen statewide, including auto thefts related to gang activities and how police departments are responding.
- The Children’s Center has been partnering with Hamden Police Department – assigning an additional officer in the neighborhood every evening starting at 6 pm. The officer checks in with the 24-hour onsite supervisor and is the first point of contact for any concerns from The Children’s Center or the 911 operator in Hamden.
- Steve repeatedly encouraged everyone to call the police, any time you see something that doesn’t seem right – whether related to the Children’s Center or not.
Dan opened up the floor for questions and a very engaged audience responded. For almost an hour, Dan, Cheryl, Steve and Sarah answered questions. The conversation and discussions ranged from very specific questions about the Children’s Center of Hamden to the broader topics of children’s services and juvenile justice, nationally or at the State level in Connecticut.
Information was shared about Connecticut state departments that were, or are, involved including the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Division of Court Support Services (CSSD). The team explained how these are evolving at our State level and what has happened in the past year, what is happening now, what is not happening that should be.
- The closing of Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS) resulted in lack of locked juvenile facilities in the state. The State did not plan adequately before closing the facility. The responsibility shifted responsibility from DCF to CSSD.
- The State issued a request for proposals (RFP) for private facilities to meet the need for approximately 60 beds. Only one response was received and it was not acceptable. The state is drafting a new RFP. Juveniles impacted currently held in prisons or are being referred to other programs across the state.
- The Children’s Center did not submit an RFP. They do not have the appropriate facility for the population from CJTS or those juveniles requiring a locked facility. The Children’s Center does not plan to serve that population. In the interim, they have been asked to take clients and these will be considered on a case by case basis and will not be accepted until a full assessment has been completed.
What has the Children’s Center done in addition to the relationship with the police?
- Instituted monthly meetings with community, police, and elected officials. (This meeting is one of the results of those meetings.)
- Installed additional cameras in common areas.
- Installed delayed crash bars on doors in cottages with frequent runaways.
- Is using special activities/trips, etc. as incentives.
- Created work programs for youth.
Where do we go from here?
- Communicate your questions and concerns – the sooner the better. Ideas and suggestions welcome. Call or email The Children’s Center any time:
- Cheryl Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-248-2116 x269.
- Dan Lyga at email@example.com or 203-248-2116 x202
- Any time day or night, you can call the 24-hour Supervisor On Site at 203-627-2273.
- Rossacci urged residents to call 911 if there is an immediate concern about crime (rather than the Children’s Center). “We’re here to serve you.”
- Advocate for a full continuum of care at the state level. Speak to and write your legislators – state and local. “We know the economy is a huge issue, but how are we making sure our youth and our communities are safe?”
It was agreed that the meetings which include the Children’s Center, the police, community groups and local elected officials will continue. Information about the Children’s Center and advocacy opportunities will be shared by newsletters, on websites and social media and in future WCA meetings as necessary or appropriate.
Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 pm.
Saturday, September 29th 2:00-4:00 at Hamden High School Room C107, 2040 Dixwell Ave, Hamden
Leading experts will present the current best practice in roadway lighting to protect human health, public safety, ecosystems, and quality of life. The forum will raise awareness about the difference between LED lighting and older, High Pressure Sodium and incandescent light sources, and will address the issues surrounding the upcoming installation of LED streetlights in the town of Hamden.
The panel will include of Professor of Community Medicine and Health Care: Dr. Richard Stevens of UConn, Catherine Diviney; Town of West Hartford Energy Specialist, Leo Smith; member Roadway Lighting Committee (Illuminating Engineering Society), Christina Crowder; International Dark-Sky Association, and on hand to answer specific question regarding regulations and safety; Daniel Kops, Hamden Town Planner and Hamden Police Chief, Thomas Wydra.
Speakers will present the latest information regarding the potential environmental, health, safety and community issues surrounding the upcoming installation of LED street lighting in Hamden and to outdoor lighting in general. In addition, the forum will have guideposts to systems, solutions and goals, that residents of the Town of Hamden should work to achieve.
Panelist will speak to their specialty, have a panel discussion and open the floor to questions.
Sponsored by Hamden Low-K LED Alliance (https://www.facebook.com/groups/CTLowKLED/ ), State Representative Michael D’Agostino, 91st District, Office of Mayor Curt Leng and the Connecticut Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association.