Plan of Conservation and Development Letter

Whitneyville Civic Association (WCA) and Spring Glen Civic Association (SGCA)Neighborhood Input Regarding Planning and Conservation Strategies

While we generally endorse the strategies listed in Hamden’s Briefing Booklets, the WCA and SGCA have suggestions and priorities regarding several areas of the plan, per feedback from civic association meetings and discussions among civic association leadership.  They are outlined below, with reference to the appropriate Briefing Booklet section.

Briefing Booklet 4:

Preserve Open Space (p. 13)

Item A1b:

We believe that access to the Farmington Canal Trail could be improved, specifically at its intersection with Mather Street. We suggest modifying Item A1b to read:

 “Farmington Canal Trail as a central spine and with improved access points to maximize this feature”

Item A3c:

We are concerned that the Powder Farm remains a natural area without means of public access; members suggested implementing the Land Trust’s plan for passive recreation and connection of the site to the Canal Trail.  We believe that the Plan should address the issue of acquiring new open space. We suggest modifying Item A3c to read: “Continue to seek opportunities to partner with other organizations (such as the Hamden Land Trust) to preserve and improve access to open space.”

Address Coastal Issues (p. 15)

Item A4:

We wish to clarify the meaning of access to the Mill River to read: “If appropriate, seek ways to enhance boating access… to the Mill River, including Lake Whitney and the Quinnipiac River.”

Promote Community Character (p. 21-23)

Item A1g:

Traffic calming continues to be an issue in Whitneyville and other areas of Hamden. Members suggested adding a left turn arrow at the intersection of Putnam Avenue and Newhall Street, and filling in of gaps in the sidewalk network.  We suggest modifying to read: “Roadways, including traffic calming.”

Item A1h:

This item does not exist.  We suggest adding it: Mass Transit, including light rail.”

Item C6:

We believe that the Town should develop, in concert with public utilities a plan to systematically provide existing trees with appropriate replacement. We suggest this item to be modified to read: Plan for the preservation, maintenance of and planting of trees for their visual, environmental, and scenic benefits.

ItemD1:

We are concerned that the Town has no central information center, such as a community calendar.   We suggest modifying it to read:  “Continue to promote community-wide events and activities through multiple media.”

Item E4:

We are concerned that there is not enough parking in the Whitneyville business district.  We suggest modifying it to read: “Seek to establish and maintain gateway features at major entry/arrival points to the Town and its villages, including improved parking.”

Items E3 and E5:

We particularly endorse efforts to brand and improve signage in the Whitneyville, Spring Glen, Mount Carmel and Centerville business districts (including historical landmarks).

Briefing Booklet 5:

Become More Sustainable (p. 3)

Item B4:

We particularly endorse the LED streetlights effort underway, including the potential for the Town to purchase streetlights.

Overall Sustainability

We encourage Hamden to expand regionalization of services, building on the successful example of the regional Health District.  This will support the long-term sustainability of Town services.

Briefing Booklet 6:

Reinforce Overall Community Structure (p. 4) and Enhance Spring Glen / Whitneyville Centers (p. 8)

We endorse these action steps, particularly Item A1: “promote and encourage missed use, pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented development”  and Item E3.  In WCA meeting, members cited the walkability of Whitneyville as one of the most important aspects of the neighborhood.  We endorse efforts to connect new developments such as Canal Crossing to the business district via sidewalks.

January 2019 Meeting Notes

Welcome.  President Dave Bechtel opened the meeting at 7:05 and asked everyone at the meeting to introduce themselves.

Announcements and Committee Updates:

  • Dave noted that the WCA Board has reviewed the draft Hamden Plan of Conservation and Development and prepared comments.  He provided an overview of our response.  The WCA’s comments have been circulated to the Ridge Hill and Spring Glen Civic Associations with the thought of consolidating all three CA’s comments in one letter.  However, we will file our own comments separately to ensure they are received in time.
  • Library Committee:
    • The 3rd Annual Library Fundraiser will be held on May 3rd.  Previous events have raised about $2,000 in each year.
    • Library Committee member Kari Nordstrom made a plan for improvements to the branch that has begun to be implemented.  The Town Librarian is working with the committee to implement the plan.
  • Treasurer’s Report:
    • $1285.25 in the WCA bank account
    • $347.82 in the Garden Club account
  • Officer Elections
    • There will be elections for the offices of President and Treasurer at the May WCA meeting.
    • Term limits require a new President, while the Treasurer can be filled by the incumbent.  Deb Maldonado is willing to continue if no one else is interested.

Upcoming Legislative Session.  Dave introduced State Rep. Mike D’Agostino who provided an over view of the forthcoming legislative session.  He noted that many of the new Democratic members are from Fairfield County, which should add an interesting dynamic to the process.

  • Governor Lamont is working on his budget proposal.  The overall budget will be in the range of $20 billion with a current deficit of $1.4 billion.  Unless revenue can be raised – such as enacting highway tolls – cuts in service will have to occur.
    • He noted that state employees may be asked for more givebacks, but that further cuts to pay and benefits will be detrimental to the retention of quality staff.
    • Town aid is another area that could experience cuts.  Those in turn could have an effect on Hamden’s mil rate, which is already one of the highest in the state.
    • Health and social programs such as HUSKY may have cuts.
    • Mike urged the WCA membership to contact other legislators representing Hamden to ensure their help in mitigating the economic impact on our town.
  • Mike is working on legislation that would change the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula to account for each town’s actual ECS needs.  He noted that while Hamden is a relatively affluent town, our student population isn’t.
  • Mike has dialogue with the Town regarding Hamden’s needs in the upcoming session.  He’s prepared a bill to allow municipalities to assess a public safety fee on college students.  Another bill would relieve towns of the need to provide transportation services for private school students. A third would permit municipalities to have different mil rates for residential and non-residential properties.
  • Mike discussed some large bonding projects for which Hamden is working to secure state funding.
    • New firehouse(s) and a training facility.
    • Alice Peck and West Woods school renovations. 
  • The Town is also looking to secure funding that would provide a universal Pre-K program.
  • There was a discussion of the lack of an adequate juvenile justice facility in Connecticut.  Mike mentioned that, while he has put in a bill to transfer the High Meadows property on Hartford Turnpike, DCF is considering it as a site for a new facility.  Connie Matheson noted that there is currently a need for a 60 bed locked facility.  Mike offered to arrange a tour of High Meadows.

The meeting was opened for questions:

  • There was a discussion of plans to stop net metering (for electricity).
  • There was a suggestion that traffic calming strategies need to be implemented on Augur Street.
  • Construction status of the Waite Street bridge is unknown.  See the May 2018 meeting notes for a discussion with the Town Engineer on initial plans.
  • There was a discussion of the potential for traffic calming and parking on Whitney Avenue, a state route.  Mike is having a meeting with the new Transportation Commissioner and will raise the issue.
  • A new adult marijuana bill will come before Mike’s committee.  It looks like this one won’t be smoked like last year’s. 
  • Mike also noted that there is thought being given to a state-wide, rather than municipal, property tax by the General Assembly.

Mike will send copies of all his bills to the WCA.

Adjournment.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:55.

Standing Room Only at Nov 29 Library Event

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.

Whitneyville Fall Social November 29 at 7 pm at the Library

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.

November 15 Meeting Notes

Welcome.  President Dave Bechtel opened the meeting at 7:07.

Announcements:

  • 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:

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

Future Meetings:

  • 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.