Sunday, December 26, 2010

First snow of the season 12/26/10 - Updated 1/18

DPW's Snow Info Page was made available during our recent BIG snow, Jan. 12, 2011.

Please read the Mayor's message with reminders and requirements during snow events.
Mayor's Snow Message (12/26/10)
Enjoy the snow and be safe out there!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Finance Committee Appointment: Greg Dildine

Monday, November 22nd, BOA president Carl Goldfield appointed me to serve as a member of the BOA's Finance Committee.   My appointment to this important BOA committee fills the vacancy left by Roland Lemar (Ward  9) who resigned from the BOA after his election to be the next State Representative for the 96th District.

I look forward to working and collaborating as a member of the Finance Committee as the work to prepare a City Budget for FY11-12 begins.

Due to increased time commitments required of Finance Committee members, I did resign my membership on the BOA's Education Committee.  However, time permitting, I will certainly try to continue to attend Education Committee meetings and participate as a welcomed guest of this committee (all Aldermen are encouraged and invited to participate and contribute on any and all BOA committees whether or not they're an appointed/voting member).  President Goldfield appointed the BOA's new Alderman for the 9th Ward, Matt Smith, to take my spot on the Education Committee.

In addition to my new membership on the Finance Committee, I'm a member of the Legislation Committee, and a member and vice-chair of the City Services and Environmental Policy Committee.  I am also one of the two BOA elected representatives to the Capital Projects Committee.

You can visit the BOA webpage to see the list of BOA committees and members (scroll down below the list of 30 Aldermen)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Want a Tree for the Tree Belt in front of your house?

12/1 update: 2010 tree planting season has ended with the successful planting of 1000 trees citywide.
Requests will be added to the 2011 list.

Would you like a tree to be planted in the "Tree Belt" in front of your house?  The City's tree planting partner is Urban Resources Initiative.  The City's goal is to plant 1000 trees this year and they've planted almost 600!

Send URI an email to request a tree!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Blog Pages

My "Neighborhood Issues List" Blog is now always available and more easily found (and more easily updated too) as a Blog Page.  Look for it under PAGES on the right side of my Blog's Home Page.

Also, my Blog post listing the meetings I attend and links to Blog reports from those meetings is now always available and more easily found (and more easily updated too) as a Blog Page.  Look for "Meetings Attended and Reports" under PAGES on the right side of my Blog's Home Page.

Please keep in touch and let me know how I can help you!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Primary - Tuesday, August 10th

REMINDER: August 10th is Primary Day.
A week from today the polls will be open at Edgewood School from 6am to 8pm.
Unregistered or Unaffiliated voters can still enroll by mail by August 5th or in person at City Hall/200 Orange St. by noon, August 9th  (deadline to change parties has passed; 3 months ahead). 

Ward 25 is within CT's 92nd Assembly District

The Ballots for Tuesday's Primaries look like this:
Democratic Primary
Governor: *Dan Malloy or Ned Lamont
Lieut. Governor: *Nancy Wyman or Mary Messina Glassman
State Representative: *Patricia A. Dillon or Sergio Rodriguez
Sec. of the State: *Denise Merrill or Gerry Garcia
Comptroller: *Kevin Lembo or Michael J. Jarjura
Party Endorsed candidate is marked with an asterisk

Republican Primary
Governor: *Tom Foley or Michael Fedele or Oz Griebel
Lieutenant Governor: *Mark D. Boughton or Lisa Wilson-Foley
United States Senator:
*Linda E. McMahon or Peter David Schiff or Rob Simmons
Attorney General: *Martha Dean or Ross Garber
Party Endorsed candidate is marked with an asterisk

Absentee ballots still available at the City Town Clerk @ 200 Orange St.
New Haven City Town Clerk: (203) 946-8346
New Haven Registrar of Voters: (203) 946-8035

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Walking our neighborhood

I spent some of each day two weeks ago walking every street in our neighborhood.  I was hand delivering flyers to make sure folks have my contact info (If you're reading my blog you can easily get my contact info... click to my website or link to the City's website for contact info for all 30 Aldermen.)

I was also reminding folks about the August 10th Primary.  Please register to vote, unaffiliated voters can enroll in a Party with races by mail until Aug. 5th or in person at 200 Orange by 12:00pm, Aug 9th, or hurry to request an Absentee Ballot from the City Clerk at 200 Orange St.

Primaries for:
Governor, Senator, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Secretary of the State, Congress, General Assembly, Judge of Probate

Polls at Edgewood School for Ward 25 registered, enrolled voters will be open from 6am - 8pm, Tuesday, Aug. 10th.

Please contact me to chat or email me to get more info and to encourage me to blog more and more often!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

School's out for the summer... and a Mini-update

Today was the last day of school for NHPS students.  I wish everyone a fun and safe summer!

Sorry I haven't been blogging much.  I have still been pretty busy representing the neighborhood though: Office hours are still going, emailing and chatting with neighbors, resolving complaints, coordinating with City Departments, attending meetings, etc....

Please keep in touch and call or email with anything you think I could help you with.

The meeting schedule slows down a bit during the summer, but there is a City Services/Environmental Policy Committee (CSEP) meeting tonight (June 24).  The agenda includes: a coffee shop's request for a new sign above the sidewalk, new residential parking zone near Lighthouse Park, the City joining Yale and the Parking Authority to enter in to a contract with Zip Car, and the Cultural Affairs Dept. requesting the approval of new guidelines for the acceptance and care of public art.  I am vice-chair of this committee.

The Legislation Committee (I'm a member) will meet in July (7/12) for business including another hearing on whether to "close the loop hole" that currently allows for beer & wine consumption at Lighthouse Park, where otherwise open containers of alcoholic beverages are illegal in any other public space and parks throughout the City.

Next regular BOA meeting is July 6th.

I'll soon blog and email with more details and info regarding:

"new" Recycling coming soon in July
Skim patching
Street Sweeping changes
Spring Mowing issues in the parks
Budget wrap-up, new mil rate
Reassessment starting in the fall (yep it's been 5 yrs already)
Traffic signals
Storm Drains
Tree Planting


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Budget Update - 5/28/10

 BOA passed a Budget for FY10-11 last night.  I'll try to summarize the proceedings and the results soon... for now, this NHI article provides a good summary of the meeting and includes NHI's Thomas MacMillan's minute-by-minute blog of the 4.5 hour meeting.

Tuesday, May 18th, the BOA's Finance Committee held an additional Budget deliberation meeting.  This unusual addition to the Budget Season calendar was in response to an increase in Aldermen and City resident demand for more scrutiny, discussion and debate of the proposed FY11 City Budget.  Several amendments to the Mayor's Proposed Budget were introduced, discussed, debated and ultimately recommended favorably out of committee Tuesday evening.  While I'm not a member of the 10 member Finance Committee, I did attend all but one of the "Budget Season" Finance Committee meetings/workshops/public hearings. (I missed the BOE presentation ironically scheduled for the week of NHPS spring break.)

A truly important role of the BOA is to scrutinize, amend as deemed necessary, and ultimately pass the City's annual Budget, thus appropriating the money budgeted and setting the tax rate necessary to balance revenues and expenses.  This year there seems to be an increase in Alderman concern and participation in this oversight process.  There has also been an increase in the collaboration between the Aldermen and the Administration and City Departments in this budgeting process.  With concerns of their own and their constituents, many colleagues have worked hard to scrutinize the proposed budget and to propose cuts and revenue solutions.  From this scrutiny, listening to testimony from Department Heads,  and hearing concerns from the public, it became clear this year that all involved should collaborate to reduce proposed expenditures, find additional revenue, and thus mitigate the proposed tax increase.

The short summary for now of where we are after this week as we head toward next Thursday's (5/27) Special Budget session of the BOA...

Per amendments favorably recommended by the Finance Committee, the proposed budget to be considered next week has been reduced by $4.6 million down to $471.6M.  These amendments primarily came from small working groups of Alders, the Administration, and Dept. Heads. This represents a budget increase from FY 09-10 of 1.64% ($7.6M).  In comparison to the modest increase, significant cost increases include $7.7M in increased medical costs (which are contractual).

So, including these collaborative cost cutting efforts so far, the resulting residential property tax increase would thus be 4%.  This increase is the net result of total spending (decreased with numerous cuts from the original proposal), and offset by: other revenue (mostly State aid which decreases significantly from FY10), an increase to the Grand List, and the freezing of the revaluation phase in to Phase-in YR 2 (like last year).  The assessment value "freeze" sets residential values closer to today's fair market value and limits the effects of the revaluation done at the height of the market.  Instead of tax burden increases to residential tax payers from revaluation, any FY11 tax increase will be entirely based on the total budget that is not covered by other revenues like State aid, Payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT), asset sales, non-profits' contributions, rents, fines, etc.

While a goal of a zero tax increase is desirous of all, there are many factors as to why this may not be achieved for FY11.  There has indeed been thoughtful collaboration and cooperation as the original proposed budget was cut significantly, other revenues added, and the assessment policy changed to more than halve the proposed tax increase yet still fund the City's commitment to schools, public safety and many, many other valued city services.

I did indeed contribute to the collaborative efforts (despite not being a member of the Finance Committee) and to many cuts contained in this amendment - as did many of my colleagues.

There is a lot more to this story and to this process.   There will also be efforts made to make more cuts as amendments are presented on the floor this week.  The work for a fiscally responsible budget will continue right up to the vote.  Most of my colleague and I believe it is our job to pass a budget that our constituents too would support.  I believe it is not our job to simply "reject" or "send the budget back."

Here's the pdf of the amendment.  Here's some explanation of this package of amendments...

Page A has the summary and also includes the 38% reduction in Capital Budget requests that represents CANCELING the last 4 school projects.  While this reductions doesn't really result in a tax reduction this year, it is still a positive CUT which will indeed help in future years.

The new Revenues and itemized cuts are shown on page 1, with more details/explanations on pg. 2.

Cuts Highlights include:
$1.5 from BOE including: $300K in non-academic summer programs, $800K for half of TAG (the current form of the district wide program), $200K athletics reorg. which will cut certain sports and related transportation), $200K of the "double dippers."
$736K for all of the new to FY11 proposed positions (no new hires)
$1.185M from NHPD including delaying new police class, OT reduc, eliminate mounted unit
$294K by delaying fire class (additional paramedics)
$500K by reducing trash (we have to pay to get rid of our trash) through more recycling (we get paid for recycling)

Note: the Technical Amendment on page 3 accounts for errors in the original budget and unfortunately those errors are slightly positive, $40,879

The Mil Rate... Yes, it goes up with this budget.  HOWEVER, it goes up because we are freezing the assessment valuation at YR 2 levels (same as last year) and the budget has gone up modestly (1.64%), but other revenues (State Aid) decreased drastically.  The assessment freeze though truly benefits residential tax payers and the net result is that any tax increase won't relate to inflated valuation (from reassessment done at the height of the market) nor the shift of the tax burden from commercial to residential.  Also worth noting:  comparing the mil rate to other towns in CT is NOT possible or fair as other towns assess in different cycles and "fair market value" is very often very different from town to town.  It's not supposed to be, but it is for many reasons, including the timing.

For taxes to not go up at all, we would need to cut another $10M+.  This may seem simple to some.  Simply cutting this amount from the total appropriation by means of % reductions for departments as some suggest may be just too blunt.  Budgeting usually appropriates $ to described line items (actual, planned expenses).  So, the cuts made so far (in the "favorably approved Finance Committee amendments") are a $ amounts attributed to a defined/described expense that has been cut.

Budget "holes," "place holders,"and "non specified expenses" are also in this budget.  To account for this approx. $11M would require much deeper cuts.  +$6M however is accounted for as targeted cuts that are in development, and in some cases will require negotiations (that is be realized throughout the year).  There is an itemization for $4.4M of these types of cuts outlined in a 5/17 press release (link here).  The other $5M is a whole other story for another Blog (not written yet): Monitization of a Revenue source (borrowing against future parking meter revenue was what was proposed) or sales of other assets.  I've included this explanation that there are "holes" in this budget for transparency and as illustration that there is indeed more hard work to come.  Not all budgeting can be done for a whole year at one instant; it is a dynamic process, there are contractual obligations, new negotiations, new technology to implement, reorganization, etc.  While many, many expenses, and then cuts to those proposed, have us where we are today, getting all the way to a zero tax increase requires truly thoughtful and truly difficult decisions.

As I said, most of my colleague and I believe it is our job to pass a budget that our constituents too would support, and this effort will take us right up to the vote on Thursday.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

BOA meeting report - 5/20/10

The May 20th, 2010 meeting was moved from Monday to Thursday to insert an unprecedented additional Finance Committee budget deliberation meeting Tuesday night.  With Budget Season rightfully monopolizing most Alder's time, the regular agenda was light.

The meeting opened with the unanimously approved order for Tax Refunds due (usually filer's errors) and the acceptance of US DOJ grant money to go to NHPD bulletproof vests.  Also a few City sliver lots were disposed per recommendation of the LCI director.

Next, with favorable recommendation from the Aldermanic Affairs Committee, the BOA unanimously approved the appointments and reappointments of several residents to City Commissions .

Then, with favorable recommendation from the City Services and Environmental Policy Committee (I'm Vice Chair; but missed the 4/22 meeting for NHPS spring break) several items also passed unanimously including: the establishment of an "ON-Street Parking Working Group" to explore how to maximize this City asset, the naming of a Wooster Square street corner after the late Battalian Chief Anthony P. "Dicky" Gambardella," the "adoption" of the Haitian City of Port au Prince and establishment of a volunteer Haitian Resources Relief Center modeled after Bridgeport and to continue to help the Haitian people here and in Haiti connect and rebuild after the earthquake tragedy, approval of a sign for Wireless Wizard at 786 Chapel St., the acceptance of Greater New Haven Transit District grant money for bikeway markings and signage, the acceptance of EPA grant money ($200K) for Brownfield Cleanup (earmarked for lot at Wall & State), and the acceptance of EPA grant money ($1 million) for a Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Program (money not allocated yet but sites along River St are a possibility).

Next, with favorable recommendation from the Community Development Committee, came the unanimous approval establishing a 20 year lease agreement with Christian Community Action for the family shelter they run and have run for many years at a City owned property (acquired through tax foreclosure 30+ yrs ago) at 124 Sylvan Ave.  This formalizes a "hand shake" agreement from long ago with the City and moves capital improvements, maintenance, and insurance responsibility from the City to CCA.  These costs will be covered by State grants to CCA, and these lease terms in lieu of monthly lease payments will serve the City and those served by CCA well for the next 20 years.

The meeting then ended with those Alders present unanimously voting for a resolution condemning AZ Senate Bill 1070 and urging the AZ legislature to reconsider this ill-advised and extreme "anti-illegal immigration" measure.  This resolution will be forwarded to the AZ legislature, and it is also the hope of those voting to condemn this type of legislation, that New Haven residents will see that similar policy will not be enacted in New Haven.

And so concluded the last "regular" meeting before next week's special budget meeting... stay tuned...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yale Field Use - Summer Schedule 2010

The following is from a letter to me (Alderman Dildine) 
from Yale’s Asst. AD, Facilities Operations, Scott Griffin:

On May 22nd and 23rd Yale will be hosting the first of our annual Youth Lacrosse tournaments. This is the Eli Lacrosse Jamboree that we have hosted for the past few years. We are expecting around 100 teams to participate which is approximately 1,500 competitors and spectators whom we will park around the Yale Bowl. They have been instructed to access the parking lot through Gate A at the corner of Yale Ave and Chapel. We will have a Police Officer stationed across from the Armory on Central Ave. to assist with the safe crossing of everyone. We will be putting up signage on all telephone poles on Cleveland, Central, Roger and Alden stating that there is No Parking for Lacrosse past this point and we will do our best to enforce this. In addition as we did last year we will be posting someone in the mornings at the corner of Central and Cleveland to direct lacrosse individuals to the Yale Bowl.

The following Thursday and Saturday (May 27th and 29th) Yale will be hosting the SCC Baseball tournament at Yale Field. This is a rather small event consisting of 2 games on the 27th and 1 game on the 29th. West Haven Police will be on hand throughout the event.

On Friday, May 28th the Southern Connecticut State University Commencement will be taking place at the Connecticut Tennis Center. They will be parking primarily around the Yale Bowl with overflow going to F-Field and D-Special off of Central Ave. SCSU will be coordinating the entire event with assistance from our department and the University Police.

May 29th Yale will also be hosting the Connecticut High School Rugby Championships that consists of 9 teams playing a round-robin format tournament on the D-North Fields. This is the second year that we are hosting it and last year we had very few issues.

The next three weekends, June 5th and 6th, June 12 and 13th as well as the 19th and 20th we will be hosting the CONNY Lacrosse Tournament. This event is a much larger event, with competitors and spectators expected to reach up to 2,000 per day. Again we will be parking inside the Yale Bowl with overflow down on Lot A by the Connecticut Tennis Center. We will again have an Officer stationed on Central to assist with the safe crossing of everyone. A large tent will also be placed outside of Johnson Family Field that will serve as a store for the group’s main sponsor. They will have the tent monitored 24-hours while merchandise is there. The last weekend of the tournament, June 19th and 20th, has been set aside as a rain date for the event in case there is poor weather conditions one day. A few All-Star games will be held on the last weekend, but unless there is rain the attendance will be significantly smaller. Two Yale Police officers will be on hand for the all of the dates to assist with the safe crossing of Yale Ave. as well as on patrol throughout the parking lots and playing fields. We will again be putting up signage on all telephone poles on Cleveland, Central, Roger and Alden stating that there is No Parking for Lacrosse past this point and we will do our best to enforce this. In addition as we did last year we will be posting someone in the mornings at the corner of Central and Cleveland to direct lacrosse individuals to the Yale Bowl

Sunday, June 6th. Yale will also be hosting the Major League Lacrosse Combine and Draft on This event will bring in 35 of the top collegiate players in the country as they try to make the professional squads. The Combine is scheduled to begin at 10:00am with a game against the US National team scheduled for approx. 2pm. All individuals will be parking around the Yale Bowl, in Lot A and if necessary I am making arrangements with the City to utilize the Marginal Drive lot. Police will be on hand to assist with the running of the event. The Draft will take place later that night back downtown at the Payne Whitney Gym. They are anticipating approx. 1,000 people in attendance for the Combine.

On the afternoon/evening of June 12th we will be assisting the Hopkins School celebrate their 350th anniversary. That day the upper intramural fields will be used for parking of visitors for the event. Hopkins will then bus the visitors from the field to the school grounds for the celebration. Details are still being finalized and I will make sure you are made aware of what is going on once more is known.

The weekend of July 3rd and 4th we will be hosting a small Youth Softball round-robin tournament. Again games will not begin before 9:00am and will be done no later than 7:00pm. Parking for this event is still being finalized, but it looks like it will also be around the Yale Bowl.

All of our rental groups have been instructed that no play can begin before 9:00am on any of the fields located near our neighbors’ houses. Play should conclude around 6:30-7:00pm each day. I will be on hand for each of these days to make sure that the procedures that I have outlined are adhered to.

In addition to all of these events we have our normal Summer Camps and general field rentals. Please let me know if you have any questions. I appreciate everything that you have done for us in the past and again if there is anything that I can do please let me know. I try to minimize the effect that our events have on the neighborhood, but I know that something will always come up. Please do not hesitate to give me a call should you have any questions or concerns or should something happen during one of these events or at any time out on the fields. I look forward to working with you moving forward.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

speeding enforcement

  Here's the answer to my recent question of the new Police Chief at a recent BOA Public Safety Committee mtg:

NHPD currently has 8 lazer guns which are used for speed enforcement. The traffic unit is equipped with them(Note-Traffic Unit is Motorcycles.) The units are also available to Patrol Officers who wish to sign them out per shift. We do have several fixed radar units which are not being used do to certification lapses/costs.
    As to the b-squad traffic unit the Officers are in training beginning May 17th and Graduation being June4th. Upon graduation Officer will be assigned to b-Squad and assigned Motorcycles for more traffic enforcement.e have 6 new bikes ready for the squad in June. Money came from federal grants.Officers  will also be assigned a B-Squad Sgt.
    Stats show that M/V enforcement was up by over 10 thousand last year. Proactive enforcement goals along with proper used of DUI Grants / and enhanced enforcement zones to stop motorcycle noise, racing , speeding and or any moto vehicle problem. The New Motor vehicle hotline number is 203-946-6306 to report any MV problem in the city.

Monday, May 3, 2010

BOA Meeting Report - 5/3/10

The May 3rd, 2010 meeting opened with Divine Guidance from Alderwoman Castro (16-D).  She addressed the recent May Day rally for Immigration Reform and denounced the new AZ law trying to address immigration issues facing that state.

A very short meeting, only attended by a couple reporters and seemingly no one from the public, only had a few items on the agenda.

Unanimously approved were Tax Refunds (usually filer's errors), the acceptance of Federal grant money ($20K) for the NHPD to use for OT and equipment for speedy forensic processing of seized firearms, and the acceptance of CT Econ Dev grant money ($2.8 million) to support the River Street Municipal Development Project.

Also, quickly approved unanimously were Tax Abatements (deferral of collection) favorably recommended and vetted by the Tax Abatement committee for four city residents.

The meeting then ended after a short discussion and amendment to a resolution supporting the 47th Freddie Fixer Clean up.  The original resolution was to support both the clean-up and the parade.  But, due to recent gun violence in the neighborhoods along the parade route, and a lack of dialogue between parade organizers and local Alders, colleagues decided it was best not to overtly endorse the parade this year.

Monday, April 19, 2010

BOA Meeting Report - 4/19/10

The April 19th regular BOA meeting opened with Alderman Jerry Antunes (12-D) giving the annual Black & Hispanic Caucus State of the City Address.  He opened asking for a moment of silence for the families and victims of the recent gun violence in New Haven.  His address mentioned that violent crime must be eliminated, gun noise should not be the norm, TV news should not only focus on crimes being a fact of life.  He also suggested that the Q House "void" should be filled, gun buyback programs are only "token" effort, kids should trade their game boxes for little league and visits to the Peabody Museum, and that parents should be more involved and this responsibility is not solely the City's.  The address also asked for more youth jobs to stimulate the mind and have a career path.  He concluded with a few policy ideas including having a progressive housing policy, getting more people to work, keeping more money in the City vs. sending it up to the State, that home owners are "tapped out" property tax wise, and there should be policies to make life better and life's burdens lighter.

Regular business commenced after Antune's half an hour address with a roll-call vote putting forth a BOA resolution to add its voice to the US Conference of Mayors call to President Obama at the United Nations conference in May 2010 to initiate good faith multilateral negotiations on an international agreement to abolish nuclear weapons by 2020.  All Alders present except DePino (18-R) and O'Sullivan-Best (11-I) voted for this resolution.

Next, several items given favorable recommendation by the City Services and Environmental Policy Committee (I'm Vice-Chair) passed unanimously including: Ordinance Amendments from DPW regarding commercial waste collection, disposal, site cleanliness and dumpster regulations; authorization to the City Engineer to continue to engage their consultant for support services for the replacement of the State Street Bridge; approval of a sign for Bespoke Restaurant; and the approval of a Sister City agreement with between New Haven and Tetlanohcan, Tlaxcala, Mexico.

Next, three items given favorable recommendation by the Finance Committee were unanimously approved including: filing the City's monthly financial report for 1/10, the authorization for the current management company of Alling Memorial Golf Club to continue management, and the fee components to the new DPW commercial waste and recycling ordinance amendments.

The fees and ordinance amendments regarding commercial trash and recycling are new policies that will ensure more compliance with the City's flow-control ordinance and State mandated commercial (and residential w/ more then 6 units) recycling laws.  This will also enhance City revenues thus reducing tax burden, protect condo and apartment residents and commercial entities from being overcharged by private waste haulers, and give these entities access to City recycling services.

Then it came time to approve the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) after much work and a favorable recommendation from the joint Community Development/Human Services committee.  This plan was 211 pages and allocated millions of dollars of grant money to many applicants.  There was however one contentious grant decision.  That was the committee's decision to decrease a grant that funded a Park's employee, union position to oversee the Open Spaces and Community Gardens.  While several committee members and other Alders thought it fair to decrease this position's salary/benefits since many grants were similarly reduced.  However, because it was reduced to below the bargained range of the position, the position would effectively be eliminated.  After more debate on the issue including testimony in favor of the long time city employee and the job itself, the sufficient money was reallocated as the amendment to do so passed with only four votes against.

Seemingly last, after that lengthy debate, was a vote to, on behalf of the Tax Abatement Committee, place a 30-day moratorium on residential tax foreclosure actions to force compliance from the City's Tax collector to follow an BOA order from last year to notify Aldermen of pending actions.  It also is to provide some more assessment of the Assessor's Office policies with regard to aggressive assessments.  This passed after this moratorium on "all" tax foreclosure actions was amended to just "residential."

Then, as the meeting seemed like it would come to a close, Alderman Goldson (30-D) moved the Resolution from the Mayor to establish a Charter Revision Committee.  This item on the agenda had been "passed over" by the Majority Leader's prerogative.  BOA leadership and the Administration wanted more time to try to get support for the Aldermanic Affairs committee's favorable recommendation to name and establish a Charter Revision Committee that could perhaps get a couple items on the Nov. 2010 ballot including 4-year terms for the Mayor and BOA.  After much discussion and debate, the item failed as many Alders did not care for the process that led to this particular list of committee members nor their directive(s).  The BOA will again take up forming a Charter Revision Committee after "budget season" and before the end of the State mandated every-10-year period which ends in 2011.

Friday, April 9, 2010

BOA Meeting Report - 4/7/10

This regular meeting, moved by a few days due to the Easter & Passover holidays, saw many new items communicated to the Board which will most likely head to Committees as assigned by the BOA President, Carl Goldfield.  There was also action on several items including a few added late thus included as Unanimous Consent items or addressed by "suspending the BOA rules."  These are "normal" procedures, however, they warrant additional scrutiny as these items have not gone through the "regular process."  The main issue of concern is the BOA is being asked to take action without much time to analyze, gather info, ask questions, etc.  Often, matters are indeed straight forward and/or due to time constraints need to be addressed under these "exceptions" to the usual rules and procedures. Almost every meeting there are items presented this way.  However, members can legitimately have concerns with having to act (vote) on an item when questions haven't, or even can't be, answered.  These issues were addressed by several Aldermen at this week's meeting.

Business began, unanimously passing a resolution to support proposed US House legislation for a Jobs for America Act.  Aldermen Rodriguez, Blango & Paca submitted this resolution to support H.R. 4812 - which you can learn more about here.  Mostly symbolic, this support could help with the passage of Federal legislation that could send money to New Haven.  Next, several new items were communicated and will most likely be distributed to Committees by President Goldfield.

First Readings were noted for several items which will be voted on at the next meeting.  This includes the Aldermanic Affairs favorable recommendation of a list of people to be appointed to establish a Charter Revision Committee, CSEP's (I'm vice-chair) favorable recommendation of Ordinance Amendments to go along with the Finance's Committee's favorable recommendation of Fees for new policies related to DPW's flow-control for waste and recycling hauled by private contractors within the City limits, as well as DPW to begin offering fee-based pick-up services for recyclables to commercial and large residential (+6 units) entities.  Also the renewal agreement with the management company for Alling Memorial Golf Course will be before the Board at the next meeting.

Then, the Board voted on a few items coming up as "Second Readings" and thus having moved through the "normal process."  However, despite favorable recommendations from Committee, several Aldermen were concerned that their questions could not be answered by their colleagues nor was there representatives for these items available. However, despite legitimate concerns, colleagues after much discussion, did vote unanimously to approve Tax Abatements  for four senior City residents, and for the continued abatement (with presumed State reimbursement) of taxes for the Tower One housing property (18 Tower Lane down town).  Also with favorable recommendation from the Public Safety Committee, and no additional questions nor concerns from members, the Board unanimously approved the application and acceptance of Federal FEMA grant money for a new Fire Boat and another Federal grant (SAFER) for money to fund nine firefighter/paramedic vacant (through attrition) positions.

Next, came the controversial last minute item(s) from the Board of Education.  While the item itself was not necessarily that controversial, that it was added at the last minute and forced people to make a decision with little time to analyze frustrated several members.  Also, frustrating was no one from the BOE was available to answer questions.  Ultimately, after much discussion, the Board did act on this item - a contract - that had three parts.  One's decision had to be made primarily based on the letter from Superintendent Mayo stating that this contract approval has " funding being requested..." and that "...the funding for these contracts will come from the existing approved school construction capital accounts..."  Alderwoman Jackson-Brooks, whose ward the Roberto Clemente & Hill Central schools are in, also asked for support.  However, she was also critical of the Administration for not being available nor for allowing the BOA more time to study this contract which requires BOA approval to go forward.  The contract(s) (3 separate ones) are for the purchase, installation and maintenance of an energy saving fuel cell to be installed at these schools.
The full board then did unanimously (except for one nay on the maintenance contract piece - Goldson) approve the contract(s).

The meeting ended soon thereafter, however, several of us (including me) asked for more discussion between meetings, amongst members, amongst the administration, and with staff.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Education Committee Workshop 4/1/10

April 1st, the BOA's Education Committee (I am a member) met and held a Workshop (open to public but usually no public testimony heard) to get a briefing from NHPS on "School Change."  Asst. Superintendent for Portfolio and Performance Management, Garth Harries and NHPS COO, Will Clark briefed the committee and answered questions.  While the school district has held many meetings to inform the community, answer questions, and get input, BOE staff had not formally chatted with BOA members in awhile on the subject of their efforts on implementing "School Change."  This was a good opportunity for BOA members to hear from Harries and Clark and to have a dialogue.  The BOA's main oversight role over the BOE is the annual appropriation of operating funds.  However, many Aldermen have heard from their constituents that in addition and in conjunction with their financial oversight that it would be great to get updates and check the progress of the reform/change initiatives.

The briefing included sharing the main goals of School Change: close the performance gap of New Haven students and the rest of the State in 5 yrs, cut the drop-out rate in half, and ensure every graduate has the academic ability and financial resources to attend and succeed in college.  There are three major strategies to achieve these goals: Community, Talent (teachers & administrators), and having a "Portfolio of Schools."  This "Portfolio" idea comes from the realization that a completely centralized, district-wide management is not appropriate for the diversity of the City's many schools.  The schools are thus evaluated individually and "graded" into three Tiers.  This "tiering" is accomplished with new and developing assessment criteria which initially relies heavily on test performance (because that's what has been emphasized by the State & Fed) BUT also looks at individual student growth measured against the student's peer group.  The available data has been plotted and from this chart seven schools have been tiered in as pilot schools to begin school change.  Edgewood and Davis are Tier 1, Daniels & King Robinson are Tier 2, Barnard is a Tier 3 (Improvement), and Brennan-Rogers and Urban Youth are Tier 3 (Turnaround) schools.  The Principals from these schools were also introduced and provided a brief introduction to their plans and hopes.  The tiering will differentiate the level of Autonomy and Accountability Continuum.  These pilot schools are making their new management plans to be submitted for approval by the BOE and the district by early May.  Curriculum, Assessment, Governance & Policies, Behavior & School Culture, External Partnerships, Professional Development, Staffing, School Calendar and Schedule, and Budget are the main components that each school will analyze and incorporate into their reform/change plan.

This is obviously a very brief summary of School Change.  I have attended many meetings and briefings so far, and I'd be happy to answer any and all questions, please call or email.  With vested interest and your interests in mind, I will be active in the oversight and collaboration required to help implement School Change that will truly benefit our kids.

Please find a lot of information including the Grading ("Bubble") Charts, documentations, survey results, printed versions of School Change presentations, etc. on the School Change website: Main Page and Documents/Charts Page.

NHPS Plot ("Bubble") Chart (at or above proficient)
NHPS Plot ("Bubble") Chart (at or above goal)

Friday, March 26, 2010

NEW Recycling Program coming soon

The City has already switched to Single Stream (un-sorted recyclables) recycling City-wide.  However, the plan approved in the Fall by the BOA to partner with Recycle Bank is NOT going to happen as planned (financial difficulties for Recycle Bank).  The City's "plan B" is in the works and was outlined before the BOA's City Services & Environmental Policy Committee last night (I'm Vice-Chair of the CSEP Committee).

The City has already moved to Single Stream recycling.  It is not necessary to separate the accepted recyclables, and you will see DPW mixing all recyclables put out in the small, blue bins as they're put in the trucks.

This flyer will be updated soon, but it does list the acceptable recyclables.

And please, NO recyclables in plastic bags!

Stay tuned for more details in this post...  for now, click here for an NHI story

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pothole Season

Last week I drove Howard Weissberg around the neighborhood.  Howard is the Deputy Director of Public Works.  We talked about the condition of our neighborhood streets.  As we emerge from winter and enter "pothole season," Howard made notes of many potholes in need of attention.  DPW has indeed responded to our concerns and the concerns throughout the city for pothole repair.  Currently DPW is limited to "cold" & "warm" patch material which is temporary.  "Hot mix" becomes available after April 1st, and they'll work on patching for the next several weeks.  Then, DPW and Engineering will prioritize and schedule street repair work in our neighborhood and throughout the city.

If you have street issues to report...

The City continues to increase their partnership with (read my previous Blog).  This online service provides yet another tool to help communicate your concerns to elected officials, City Departments, and with neighbors.  I've set up a Watch Area - Ward 25-Alderman Dildine Watch Area - for our neighborhood.  Click "Issues Map" to see current issues in our neighborhood.  ANY issue added within this area will generate an email notification which I'll receive immediately.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BOA Meeting Report - 3/15/10

Business at this regular meeting included several annual appointments and re-appointments of people to many City Commissions - click here for the Commissions webpage.  Also, the full Board approved two sign requests which had already received favorable recommendation from the City Services & Environmental Policy Committee (I'm vice-chair of this committee).  Donated "Welcome to City Point Historic District" signs were approved as was the designation of a section of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail the "William Lanson Section" to honor his contribution to the original engineering and construction work on the Farmington Canal and Canal Dock.  Approval of items favorably recommended by the Finance Committee included allowing the Whalley Ave. Special Services District to change they way they tax their members, and the approval of the audited FY09 financial statements and monthly financials thru Dec. '09.  You can (should) find the agenda and minutes for this meeting and others on the City's BOA Schedules/Calendar webpage.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Google Fiber Project

Several neighbors have asked me about the City's efforts to "win" Google's latest challenge to tell Google why they should pick New Haven as a test community for Google to install ultra-high-speed internet connectivity. 
The City together with partners from the community are indeed working on this effort and will submit the required Request for Information (RFI).  If you are interested, please visit the City's Google Fiber Project Partner page.

Visit Google's page for more background on this project.

Budget Presentation and Q&A

Wednesday evening (3/10), the Mayor and a dozen City staff and department heads came to Edgewood School to present the Mayor's FY11 Proposed Budget Briefing and to answer questions from neighbors.  About twenty neighbors and several other city residents came to listen and ask questions.  For those that couldn't attend, the next Community Budget Briefing will be at Nathan Hale School, March 10th @ 6:30.

Now available on the City's website are answers to questions raised by residents and many FAQs regarding the budget, decisions, taxes, the process, contact info for related city departments and info, etc.  Also, you can submit questions.  I recommend you visit the City's Budget Q&A page.  The Mayor's FY11 Proposed Budget document is also available here.  I recommend you at least read the Mayor's message and also find the Calendar of public hearings on page 2-22.

Also, please contact me directly with any budget related questions, comments, or issues.  Scrutinizing, changing as necessary, and finalizing the City's annual Budget is one of the most import roles of the BOA.

see click fix

The City continues to increase their partnership with SeeClickFix.  This online service provides yet another tool to help communicate your concerns to elected officials, City Departments, and with neighbors.  I've set up a Watch Area - Ward 25-Alderman Dildine Watch Area - for our neighborhood.  Click "Issues Map" to see current issues in our neighborhood.  All issues (not just based on Keywords) added within this area will generate an email notification which I'll receive immediately.

Also, at least 53 other "Watchers" including several City Departments will get notifications based on Keywords in the issue's subject and text.  While not all the City Departments are monitoring SeeClickFix, the NHPD, Transportation, Traffic & Parking (TT&P) and most recently the Department of Public Works (DPW) are now using this tool fairly effectively.  TT&P will even acknowledge receipt.  Several City Departments may look to be monitoring, but may not be as responsive or integrated to this alert system.  I believe the City is working to improve the utilization of this tool, and I will forward requests to the proper department if I don't think certain departments are totally on board yet.

So, I encourage you to check this out and give it a try.  Please sign up to "follow" my Watch Area; then you'll be assured that I have been notified of your issue; or, you can create your own area.

TT&P is monitoring these Keyword ("minus" indicates they're ignoring those words because they're are usually for other folks):  "graffiti on sign" traffic ped crosswalk intersection "traffic signal" "stop light" bike sign -mugging -blight -pothole "-storm drain" -drain -trash -speeding -drug -stealing -manhole "-manhole cover" -graffiti -bricks -atv 
DPW is monitoring: pothole "pot hole" uneven broken damaged sweep glass debris -atv -illegal -drug

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mayor's FY10-11 Budget available - Community Presentation 3/10

This week the Mayor presented his Proposed FY10-11 Budget to the BOA. Today, Wed., March 3rd, I attended the Mayor's briefing to the BOA on his proposed budget.

The Mayor's Proposed Budget is available as a PDF on the City's website here.  (I may be able to get some hard copies for those that want one.)   The BOA's review process is underway, and there is a calendar on page 2-29 which includes dates for several public hearings.  My colleagues and I look forward to close scrutiny of this proposal ahead of the approval of the BOA's version set for May 24th.  That gives us all time to analyze, discuss, and debate.

NEXT Wednesday, March 10th, 6:30pm @ Edgewood School
The Mayor invites you to his first

Community Budget Presentation

I urge you to attend this presentation. 

BOA Meeting Report - 3/1/10

There is now a lot more before the BOA since the eight minute meeting 2/16.   Alderman Antunes (Ward 12) opened the meeting with his version of Divine Guidance which he said was mostly just guidance.   His guidance then came in the form of a very brief City history lesson, and from this historical perspective, understanding, and learning from history, he hoped would lead to future historians looking back on the 2010 BOA to see a "progressive, effective, and unified body." 

The next hour was mostly discussion, background, urging of support, and a bit of debate for the two significant Zoning changes before the full board to be put to a vote.  Those being: Yale's petition for a Planned Development District (PDD) allowing for a new School of Management campus to be built on Whitney Ave., and a new zoning district in Fair Haven along Grand Avenue.  The Grand Ave. zoning text and map amendments, facilitating what will be a new Neighborhood Center Mixed Use zoning district along Grand Ave. between James to Perkins St., passed unanimously.  The Yale PDD  was also approved by all Alders present except Alderman Goldson (Ward 30) who voted against the PDD out of concerns for the PDD zoning designation and process and not Yale's project specifically.  Please read more about these zoning changes in previous Blogs.

Three Orders were passed unanimously: permission to Koji restaurant to install awnings over the city sidewalk, Labyrinth Books given permission to install a sign over the city sidewalk, and tax refunds due.  One Resolution was also unanimously approved expressing the full support for the "Safe Routes to School Program" project which will include infrastructure improvements around Fair Haven Shcool using Federal grant money.

13 new items were Communicated - including the Mayor's Proposed FY10-11 Budget - which will all most likely be distributed to Committees by BOA President Goldfield.

Also moving along in the process, seven items moving out of Committees were given their First Readings and thus will most likely come up for a vote at the next regular meeting.  These items include Mayoral appointments and re-appointments to several commissions which were favorably moved from the Aldermanic Affairs Committee.  Items favorably moved out of the City Services and Environmental Policy Committee (I'm a member; read this Blog).  And, items favorably moved from the Finance Committee including: recommending to approve a change to the way the Whalley Ave. Special Services District (WSSD) taxes its members, acceptance of the Audit for FY 09, transfering some bond $ internally to Parks, and acceptance of the required monthly budget statements.

As always this is but a brief summary.  The minutes/journal should be available here.  And, please contact me for more details...

Monday, March 1, 2010

BOA Meeting 3/1/10 - agenda

BOA regular meeting TONIGHT, Monday, March 1st, 7pm @ City Hall.

Agenda includes the Second Readings for the two significant Zoning changes now before the full board for continued discussion and they will most likely (I say most likely because just because items are eligible to be voted on, there are several options which could always delay a vote) be put to a vote.  These are Yale's petition for a Zoning Ordinance Map Amendment designating a Planned Development District for the proposed new Yale School of Management Campus at 155-181 Whitney Ave., and Zoning ordinance text amendments to establish a Neighborhood Center mixed use zoning district (BA-1) and map amendments to change the zoning along Grand Ave. from James St. to Perkins St. from General Business (BA) to the new BA-1 zone.

The Legislation Committee has unanimously recommended these items "favorably with amendments," and you can read more about the Yale PPD here and the Grand Ave. re-zoning here in previous blogs.

Three other items will be also most likely be voted on tonight including these under Unanimous Consent (a "fast-tracking" option):  A sign and awning approval for two businesses where the BOA has the control over stuff that will "encroach [hang over] on the public right-of-way" (read this previous blog entry), tax refunds due per the City Tax Collector, and Alderwoman Bauer's (Ward 14) resolution to support the acceptance of Federal funds and the implementation of the "Safe Routes to School Program" in the vicinity of Fair Haven School.

New business will be Communicated including the renewal of the agreement with the current management company to run the City's Alling Memorial Golf course.  Communicated items will usually be assigned to committee by BOA President Carl Goldfield (Ward 29).

Several First Readings will be given to items coming from committees to the Board as they continue through the process.  These include Mayoral appointments to various commissions which have been evaluated by the Aldermanic Affairs committee, "Welcome to Historic City Point" sign approval, and Farmington Canal section to be named after William Lanson, both evaluated by the City Services and Environmental Policy committee (I'm a member and here's more info in a previous blog entry).

As usual this is just a summary and not the full agenda.  Everyone is always welcome to attend BOA meetings, the agendas and minutes/journals are supposed to be here on the City's website, and please call or email me if you'd like more info and/or details.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

BOA Meeting Report - 2/16/10

Despite the snowy evening, most Alders made it to last week's regular meeting which only lasted eight minutes.  We did unanimously approve an Order to rename the corner of Church & Chapel for John J. Boyle for the day of the St. Patrick's Day parade.  A brief lull as old business gives way to new business...  However several items are beginning their journey through the process as Communications and a few more were moved along...

These included First Readings for two important Zoning changes before the Board:
A new zoning designation along Grand Avenue on the east side of town, and Yale's request for zoning changes that will allow construction of a new Yale School of Management Campus on Whitney Ave. across from the Peabody Museum.

Feb. 8th, the Legislation Committee gave its unanimous, favorable-as-amended support for City zoning ordinance text amendments to establish a neighborhood center mixed use zoning district (BA-1) and zoning map amendments to change the zoning of properties along Grand Avenue from James St. to Perkins ST. from General Business (BA) to Neighborhood Center Mixed Use (BA-1).  This legislation will most likely put to a vote at the next regular meeting, March 1st. (more details in this Blog...)

Feb. 11th, just after midnight, the Legislation Committee gave its unanimous, favorable-as-amended support to Zoning Ordinance Map and Text Amendments which will designate a Planned Development District (PDD) at Yale owned property at 155-181 Whitney Ave.  This will enable Yale to build a new School of Management campus on that property per their submitted general plans.  This legislation too will get its First Reading before the full Board on Tuesday (more details in this Blog...)

Meeting agendas and minutes should be available here.

Legislation Committee recent meetings - Yale SOM PDD

I am a member of the BOA's Legislation Committee.  The first meeting I attended was January 28th and was the first of two public hearings before the committee to hear Yale's application for a designation of a Planned Development District (PDD) and zoning amendment petition to facilitate development of a new School of Management campus at 155-181 Whitney Avenue.  The Board of Aldermen is the zoning authority for the City.  Mike Morand, from Yale's Office of State & City Affairs, presented Yale's petition/application.  Their architect's (Foster & Partners) design, which meets Yale's needs and allows them to consolidate SOM functions and programs, requires a building of a size and sited on their property in such a way that would not conform to the two existing zones that govern their property.  Morand explained correctly that as-of-right they could have built within the existing zoning parameters; but for many reasons which he laid out, Yale has applied to the BOA for a PDD designation which will allow them to build on their property as per their submitted general plans. 

The job of the Legislation Committee was to hear from the petitioner, from the public, and from City departments, so the committee could make a recommendation to their colleagues on the full board regarding this request.  After having read pages of testimony, background and advice, after hearing more than nine hours of testimony from Yale, the public, and with advice from and consultation with City Plan and Corporation Counsel, the committee deliberated and unanimously recommended the PDD application and zoning amendments: "Favorable as amended (by the committee)."  The full board will hear, debate and probably vote on Yale's application/petition at the BOA's next, regular meeting, March 1st.

I and my colleagues heard and read lots of testimony for this application.  There were two evenings of public hearings.  The majority of public testimony was indeed "pro."  There was thoughtful "con" testimony presented too.  Our deliberation was focused on whether the applicant's petition is compliant with PDD objectives in Section 65(a) of the City's zoning Ordinance.  The PDD must be 1) "In accordance with the comprehensive plans of the City," 2) "Composed of such uses, and in such proportions as are most appropriate and necessary for the integrated functioning of the planned development and for the City," 3) So designed in its space allocation, orientation, texture, materials, landscaping and other features as to produce an environment of stable and desirable character, complementing the design and values of the surrounding neighborhood and showing such unusual merit as to reflect credit upon the developer and upon the City..."  There is also State Statute, Section 8-2m to be satisfied.  This included provision that the development is designed for the betterment of the City and the neighborhood, and that the zoning change is not less use-restrictive, nor is there an expansion of a pre-existing nonconforming use.  Agreeing that these applicable objectives are satisfied in the application, I did indeed vote with my colleagues to unanimously recommend approval of Yale's PDD petition with conditions and amendments.  Conditions include: public pedestrian and bicycle access from Pearl St. through to Whitney Ave. and greater set-backs than originally proposed.

This is just a very brief synopsis of what the committee considered and did, of what I heard at two long meetings (the Feb. 11th meeting ended after midnight), and includes references to lots of written testimony, background, and advice made available to me and the other committee members... And, if this all sounds technical and complicated?... it is...  But, if anyone would like to hear even more, see and/or read any or all of the testimony, see the architect's plans and renderings, etc., please call me.  I believe that the committee did its job, and now the "favorable-as-amended" application/petition moves to the full BOA for final action on this zoning application/petition.

Legislation Committee Recent Meeting - Grand Ave New Zoning

The second Legislation Committee meeting I attended was earlier this month, Feb. 8th.  This public hearing was held at Fair Haven School, right in the neighborhood where the pending zoning change is proposed.  The neighbors, business owners, Alders, and the community organization, Grand Avenue Village Assoc. (GAVA) all came to testify in support of the proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendments.  Yes, all the public testimony was "pro" and in favor of this change that has been in the works for ten years or so.

The City's Comprehensive Plan of  Development (published 10/03) had identified this neighborhood and business district as one of City's traditional neighborhood business districts that could benefit from a new zoning designation.  The zoning district along Grand Ave. is currently zoned General Business (BA).  This zoning regulates neighborhood business centers in essentially the same manner as more highway-oriented commercial use, according to City planners.  The proposed zoning ordinance text amendments, before the Committee and open for public testimony that night,  propose a brand-new Neighborhood Center Mixed Use (BA-1) designation for the properties along Grand Ave. from James St. to Perkins St.

After hearing all the favorable testimony and also having read and heard prepared written advice, background, and testimony, I voted with my colleagues to give unanimous, favorable-as-amended support for City zoning ordinance text amendments to establish a Neighborhood Center Mixed Use zoning district (BA-1) and zoning map amendments to change the zoning of properties along Grand Avenue from James St. to Perkins ST. from General Business (BA) to Neighborhood Center Mixed Use (BA-1).  This legislation was then given it's First Reading before the full Board, Feb. 16th, and will most likely be voted on at the next BOA meeting, March 1st.

This zoning ordinance amendment only applies specifically to the Grand Ave. properties, but some day similar zoning amendments could designate other neighborhood business districts identified in the Comprehensive Plan - including Westville Village - as a Neighborhood Center Mixed Use District.  Some of the perceived benefits include excluding BA zone permitted uses like motels, hotels, gun repair, auto dealers, and drive through businesses.  The BA-1 zone also provides for Special Permit/Exemption uses including convenience stores, barber shops, package stores, large parking lots, and any use over 5000sqft.  Also, it will be much easier to locate residential above first floor commercial uses and also introduce uses including fitness clubs, indoor ATM's, and live-work loft residences.  There will be form differences too including building height requirements of 2-4 stories, encourage building up to the street, and require first floor facades to be glassed.  Parking requirements will be reduced overall and a new Parking Management plan will accompany this zoning change.

Again, this is a brief synopsis.  If anyone would like to hear more, I'd be glad to chat and share all of the materials I have on this issue including a handy Chart illustrating the Use differences between BA and the proposed BA-1 zones.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

City Services & Environmental Policy Committee report - 2/18/10

I am the vice-chair of the BOA's City Services & Environmental Policy committee (CSEP).  This committee's first meeting of 2010 was chaired by Alderman Justin Elicker (Ward 10).   We met last week (2/18/10) to hear public testimony and to consider action on six items.  One item was not considered that evening because no one came to testify.  We also did hear favorable testimony on a residential parking zone item before the committee, but it was given "leave to withdraw" as the area is already designated a residential parking zone (zone 7).  The other items included signs and awning requests that will "encroach [hang over] on the public right-of-way" for which by Charter the BOA controls.  The comittee heard only favorable testimony and after further questioning and discussion, two businesses, Koji Restaurant and Labyrinth Books, were given favorable recommendation for their requests.  The BOA will vote on these at the next regular meeting, March 1st.

The other two items were requests from the community.  Residents from the City Point neighborhood were requesting signs be placed at two entry points to the City Point neighborhood stating "Welcome to City Point Historic District."  Design has been approved by City Plan and costs and insurance will be covered by the donor for this project, the family of the late, long-time City Point resident, Judge & Mrs. Arthur Healey.  The committee moved this item favorably with the inclusion of the City Plan Commision's conditions including requiring a Certificate of Appropriateness from the City Point Historic District Commission, proof of insurance, and the City's right to revoke this privilege if the signs become hazardous, not maintained, or insurance lapses.

Two members from the Amistad Committee testified in favor of a proposal by them, State of CT Freedom Trail, the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, and supported by several Alders.  This proposal is for an Order to designate a section of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail for William Lanson.  Lanson is one of New Haven's most significant African American figures and designed the New Haven section of the Farmington Canal which was built between 1810 - 1812.  The committee also favorably moved this item for the full Board's consideration in the coming weeks.

Again, this is but a brief synopsis.  If anyone would like to hear more, I'd be glad to chat and share all of the materials I have on these items.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tennis Foundation of CT - Board Mtg 2/2/10

The Ward 25 Alderman has a seat on the board of directors for the Tennis Foundation of CT.  I attended my first board meeting, and the board's first of 2010, earlier this month on Feb. 2nd.  This non-profit foundation manages the tennis stadium on Yale Avenue, promotes youth tennis, and promotes increased economic activity.  The Tennis Center's current tenant, CT Professional Tennis, owns the rights to and puts on the professional tournament -  Pilot Pen Tennis at Yale.  Most know that this is the last year (2010) of Pilot Pen as the title sponsor.  CPT's update was that they are indeed working hard to find a new title sponsor that will commit for at least five years.  It had been also noted that a title sponsor covers 1/3 of all expenses of putting on a tournament. After that update, the foundation's accountant presented the financial statement/audit for the year ending 9/30/2009.  He noted that cash and cash equivalents are declining year to to year.  Also, the Executive Director, Jay Zammiello, reminded the board that the center is now 20 years old and the mortgage is paid-off.  He also updated  the board on a site/maintenance survey recently done by a sports facilities architectural firm, Populous.  Suggestions and observations for the board's consideration included possible renovations that could perhaps be tied together with getting a new title sponsor, and that the facility should match the "international standard" and high level of any sponsors, tournaments, and event(s) to be hosted at the stadium.  The next board meeting is March 2nd, and we hope to hear more on the search for a new title sponsor.

Captial Projects Committe meeting report - 2/11/10

Feb. 11th I attended my first Capital Projects Committee meeting.  This committee is not a BOA committee but a committee established by City Charter, Section 78.  I was elected by my colleagues to be one of the BOA's two representatives along with Alderwoman DePino (18-R).  The other members include the City's Controller, City Planner, and Mayoral appointments of City residents and a member from the City Planning Commission.  Chairman of this committee, resident, Zelly Goldberg, presided over this meeting where City department heads and representatives testified to their capital project requests to be included in the Capital Projects section of the Mayor's Proposed FY 2011 Budget.  The committee heard details for all of these requests and asked many questions and made requests for additional information. Requests came from the following 16 City departments: Building, IT, Assessors, Community Services, Airport, Library, Parks, DPW, Engineering, Economic, Police, TT&P, Fire, City Plan, LCI, and NHPS.

According to previous submitted and approved City budgets, capital budget is primarily used to finance improvements with an average life of five or more years as well as large-scale permanent improvements.  Also included are regular capital improvement programs for the maintenance of City streets, sewers, parks, and major equipment (mowers, fire trucks, etc.).  Funding comes from the City's general obligation bonds/notes and State and Federal grants.  The City's bonding limits are set forth in State Statute and vary by category.

These department requests and supporting justifications are gathered by this committee and forwarded to the Mayor by Feb. 15th for inclusion in the Mayor's Proposed Budget that is due to the Board of Aldermen by March 1st.  The BOA will hold public hearings and further evaluate the Capital Budget requests in context with the entire Proposed Budget in committee meetings and as a whole.  The Capital Projects Committee did send these requests on to the Mayor, and as a member of the committee I have lots of information I can now share with my colleagues as the City's entire FY2011 budget is considered over the next few months.

As usual, this is but a brief summary of this 3 hour meeting and references lots of documentation I have and is available to all.  If anyone would like to chat more about and/or look over these many requests totaling $46 million ($19 million of which is for the last four school reconstruction projects), please call me.

Friday, February 12, 2010

BOA Meeting 2/16 - Agenda

After two public hearings related to City zoning this week which were heard by the BOA's Legislation Committee (of which I am a member), the favorable recommendations with amendments, will be part of the agenda at the Tuesday, Feb. 16th, BOA regular meeting.  The meeting is Tuesday evening at 7:00pm due to the Presidents Day holiday on Monday.

Last Monday night (2/8), the Legislation Committee gave its unanimous, favorable-as-amended support for City zoning ordinance text amendments to establish a neighborhood center mixed use zoning district (BA-1) and zoning map amendments to change the zoning of properties along Grand Avenue from James St. to Perkins ST. from General Business (BA) to Neighborhood Center Mixed Use (BA-1).  This legislation now gets its First Reading before the full Board on Tuesday (more details in this Blog...)

Last night (2/11), just after midnight, the Legislation Committee gave its unanimous, favorable-as-amended support to Zoning Ordinance Map and Text Amendments which will designate a Planned Development District (PDD) at Yale owned property at 155-181 Whitney Ave.  This will enable Yale to build a new School of Management campus on that property per their submitted general plans.  This legislation too will get its First Reading before the full Board on Tuesday (more details in this Blog...)

At least nine new Communications will be read to the Board offering new proposals, orders, resolutions, ordinance amendments, etc.  These will be sent to committee by the BOA President.

The BOA will hear a Second Reading and bring to a vote an Order to rename the corner of Church and Chapel as "John J. Boyle Blvd." for the day of the New Haven St. Patrick's Day parade.

Link to my Blog report from this meeting.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Alarm Registration Guide available

Downloading the Alarm Registration form now comes with an 8 page "guide" to the ordinance.

Download it by clicking here.

The City's new alarm ordinance, which replaces the old one, goes into effect Feb. 28th, 2010.

Please click this link to read my previous Blog entry.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

my BOA Committee Assignments and more

The President of the Board of Alderman, Carl Goldfield (Ward 29) has made the committee assignments.

I have been appointed Vice-Chair of the City Services and Environmental Policy Committee and as a member of the Legislation Committee and the Education Committee.

All the committee assignments have been updated on the City's website at the bottom of the Aldermen page.  This page also has the contact info for all the Aldermen.

I look forward to being helpful serving on these three committees.  I have also been elected as one of the Board's representatives to the Capital Projects Committee (not a BOA committee but more like a commission), and  I will also serve as an Aldermanic and neighborhood representative on the Board of Directors for the Tennis Foundation of Connecticut (stewards of the CT Tennis Center at Yale and current site of the Pilot Pen professional tennis tournament).

Monday, February 1, 2010

BOA elects Capital Projects Committee Reps - me &

The last few Board representatives to fill the spots on the remaining three Commissions were filled by electing me, Greg Dildine, & Arlene DePino (18-R) as the Board's representatives on the Capital Projects Committee, Justin Elicker (Ward 10) as rep. on the City Plan Commission, and Alderwomen Castro (16-D) & O'Sullivan-Best (11-I) as reps on the Parks Commission.

BOA Meeting Report - 2/1/10

Tonight the meeting opened with Divine Guidance from Justin Elicker (Ward 10) who spoke about "community," and related it to our relationships with people and our environment.  He referenced, Aldo Leopold whom Justin considers one of the first environmentalists, and Justin asked that, as we do things for people and living creatures, we also do for our environment,  because, it is the "right thing" to do.

Please read the Mayor's entire speech linked from the NHI.

My very short summary:
The Mayor then gave his approximately 45 min. State of the City speech illustrated with supporting data video projected in graphs and lists.  He spoke of economic growth in New Haven despite the nation-wide down turn in the economy, yet sadly contrary to an increase in un-employment here in New Haven.  The growth he spoke of is indeed evidenced in Grand List (tax base) growth which he also showed illustrates the two main sectors of this growth: university based, especially life sciences, and growth in the science based, private, for-profit business coming out of the university.  He also highlighted growth in the service sector - hospitality industry (hotels) - "spin[ing]" from this university and science sector growth.

The Mayor then  stated his three big priorities for 2010: 1) Jobs and the Economy, for which he outlined four "opportunities in 2010:" Downtown crossing, 100 College, continue to grow Science Park, and grow the university (YALE SOM campus project.); 2) Public Safety, further address "re-entry;" and 3) School Change, which he said, "Is the thing that more than any program, or any policy, or any law, or any activity of this gorvernment, or this community, that we can do that will transform New Haven from a place of promise, to what Dr. King called, 'The fierce urgency of now.'"

The Mayor concluded his speech  saying, "The state of our City is good.  The character of our people is excellent.  And tonight, the possibilities for our children is outstanding."

Then the business of our regular meeting continued.  The last few Board representatives to fill the spots on the remaining three Commissions were filled by electing me, Greg Dildine, & Arlene DePino (18-R) as the Board's representatives on the Capital Projects Committee, Justin Elicker (Ward 10) as rep. on the City Plan Commission, and Alderwomen Castro (16-D) & O'Sullivan-Best (11-I) as reps on the Parks Commission.

Several items were Communicated and will be assigned to committees.  Actions included (by unanimous voice vote) ordering tax refunds due, naming a street corner "John J Boyle Blvd" for the day of the St. Patrick's Day parade, order to approve the quitclaim of land known as 291 and 309 Ashmun St. to Science Park Development Corp. (to build a daycare), and the acceptance of State grant money ($8450) to supplement the Dept. of Cultural Affairs' operating budget.

The end...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

State of the City & BOA meeting - 2/1/10

The Mayor's State of the City Address and third Board of Alderman meeting of the year is tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 1st, 7pm, at City Hall.

The Mayor will be delivering his 17th State of the City Address before the Board of Alderman and community members. This event will be held in the Aldermanic Chambers and is open to the public. In addition, the City of New Haven and the New Haven Independent will be broadcasting this address via a live webcast. The Mayor encourages residents to log on to either the City's website or to the New Haven Independent's website on Monday to hear the vision and agenda for our City in 2010. 

Here's a summary of the agenda:  A resolution to elect the Board's representative(s) to the final three Charter defined Boards and Commissions including: Capital Projects, City Plan & Parks.  One Unanimous Consent item to cover Tax Refunds due due to errors or overpayment as recommended by the Tax Collector.  Several  Communications (including, but not all:) Alderwoman James-Evans (Ward 3) submitting an order calling for reinstitution of community policing, James-Evans submitting an ordinance amendment regulating the facilitation of underage parties where persons over 21 may lawfully consume alcoholic beverages, the Dir. of Parks submitting an ordinance amendment to prohibit alcoholic beverages from Lighthouse Point Park except for permitted events at the carousel building [currently the only New Haven park that allows alcoholic beverages park-wide], and a few others.  All Communications will be sent on to the appropriate Committee.  Agenda & Minutes for meetings should be available on the City's website here.  As always, if anyone would like a copy of the Agenda provided to us Alders ahead of the regular meetings, please email me.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Legislation Committee has been named

 The first Board of Alderman  Committee assignments were made yesterday by BOA President Carl Goldfield (Ward 29).  I have been named to this important committee and look forward to being helpful.

The Legislation Committee is : Ald. Roland Lemar, Chair, Ald. Michael Jones,Vice Chair, Ald. Jorge Perez, Ald. Charles A. Blango, Ald. Gerald Antunes, Ald. Stephanie Bauer, Ald. Gregory Dildine.

The first Legislation Committee meeting is tonight, Jan. 28th @ 6:00pm at City Hall.  The main agenda is hearing from the Yale office of New Haven and State Affairs, Zoning Ordinance amendment and PDD application for proposed new Yale School of Management (SOM) campus at 155-181 Whitney Ave.

The other Committees (list found here below list of Aldermen) will be appointed within the next few days.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Haven's State Delegation's Legislative Update

Saturday, Jan. 23rd, 10am-noon -- I, most of my Board colleagues, and about 30 city residents heard from New Haven's delegation of State Senators & Representatives (7 of the 8).  They convened this forum to brief Alders and attendees on the workings of State government and provide an update on current issues and the budget.  It was truly informative, with Senator Looney opening the session providing a summary of the legislative organization and the budgeting process.  Senator Harp shared background on the important Appropriations committee which she chairs.  Representative Staples discussed the Finance committee which he chairs.  Representative Dillon (Ward 25 resident) spoke about her passion and advocacy for Public Health.  Rep. Candelaria gave examples of the work he does as a member of the Regulation and Revue Committee, the Commerce Committee and as chair of the Higher Education Committee.  Rep. Walker, who also organized the forum, took the opportunity to invite the Alders and public to testify at public budget hearings or any public hearings up in Hartford.  A Guide to Testifying at Public Hearings was available.  Rep. Holder-Winfield, in the interest of time, asked Rep. Walker to open the floor to questions.

Several questions were raised including:  efforts to avoid "silo thinking," current efforts for jobs creation, red-light camera legislation, and the public financing of elections.  The members of the delegation all helped field these questions.

The following useful documents can be linked to or shared electronically:  "This is your General Assembly,"  2010 Legislative Calendar, "Guide to Testifying at Public Hearings," CT Gen. Assembly FAQs, and "2009 Major Acts"

If anyone would like to hear more or receive the above docs, please contact me. 

BOA Meeting Report - 1/19/10

The 2nd meeting of 2010 agenda included four main items.  The meeting was opened with Divine Guidance from Alderman Lemar making remarks remembering Dr. King and also reflecting on the tragedy in Haiti.  The first item of business was voting on a resolution to name the Board's representatives to the many City Boards & Commissions.  BOA Leadership helped work out who wanted what and encouraged discussion amongst colleagues if there were any conflicts.  With no conflicts for almost all of the slots, the Board approved their representatives to twenty (20) of the Boards and Commissions.  The final few will be voted in at the next meeting - where either unopposed member(s) will be approved or a floor vote will determine the delegate(s).  Boards & Commissions are listed here on the City's website (if they're not updated with our newly elected representatives soon, I'll post my own list.)

The next business included the Board unanimously approving the Tax Collector's recommendations for refunds due (for errors or overpayment). Several Communications were moved (on to committee usually).

Then, several members of the Board (I too signed on)  introduced an Order for the City " create a payroll deduction program for the purpose of sending a collective contribution to Americares or another organization on the ground in Haiti..."  This passed unanimously.  The undersigned Alders pledged their January 2010 stipend to seed the participating City employees' collective donation.

Although added late to the Agenda, Alderman Goldson's couple items, pertaining to his and two other Ward 30 residents being elected and named as representatives to the Local Redevelopment Authority (for redevelopment planning for the Libby US Army Reserve Center on Wintergreen Ave.), were discussed, debated, and resolved in Caucus and the public information session ahead of the regular meeting.  Goldson was looking for the Board's help in gaining a seat on the LRA.  The Mayor provided him an appointment to the LRA and the Unanimous Consent Order for the two other community appointments (he desired) was changed to a Communication item and moved to Committee for consideration.

The meeting ended with a couple items of Personal Privilege including recognizing Alderman Lehtonen (Ward 27) being recognized by his employer, Sikorsky, for 30 years of service, and Alderman Paca (Ward 24) requesting a moment of silence for the passing of three neighbors from his ward.

Budget "boot camp" for new Alders

Jan. 14th, Ina Silverman hosted a meeting for new Alders focused on finance and budgeting.  Budget Director Larry Rusconi, Comptroller Mark Pietrosimone, Chief Financial Administrator Sal DeCola, and Rebecca Bombero explained the budgeting process including outlining the time-line for the annual process and highlighted key pages in the budget, monthly financial reports, and audit documents. 

The City's Charter requires the Mayor to submit a Budget to the Board of Alderman by March 1st.  Public hearings, Finance Committee workshops, addition public hearing(s), and deliberations will culminate in the BOA adopting a Budget for 2010/2011 to go into effect July 1, 2010, by the end of May (currently scheduled for 5/24/10).  This calendar will be in the first section of the Mayor's proposed Budget document.

The Audit of the year ending June 30, 2009 has been presented to the BOA and will be analyzed at the next Finance Committee meeting.  The Finance Committee also scrutinizes the Charter required Monthly Report which is presented to all BOA members.  The review of the Report for Nov 30, 2009 will also be on the Finance Committee's agenda for their next meeting.  These monthly reports keep Alders up-to-date and provide monthly summaries of "concerns" and a Charter required Action Plan to address any concerns.

Another key component for the revenue side of the equation, the Grand List (tax base), will be set by Jan. 31, 2010. 

The BOA Committee assignments will be set in the next few days.  BOA President Carl Goldfield (Ward 29) makes these assignments.  While freshmen Alders are not usually assigned a spot on the Finance Committee, all Alders are encouraged to attend meetings, will be included in discussion and debate, and may even be called upon to vote if their participation is required to fill a quorum.  I plan to attend these important meetings schedule permitting.

If anyone ever wants to chat more about budget and/or finance issues, please call me.  I will also share any documentation that may interest you.  Financial oversight is an extremely important role of the Board of Alderman, and I will indeed participate.

Alarm Ordinance - further clarification

The City's Deputy CAO Jennifer Pugh and attorney Roderick Williams recently provided additional clarifications pertaining to the City's new Alarm Ordinance.  Please also read my earlier Blog. 
The City created this new ordinance to attempt to mitigate the thousands of false alarms that the NHPD responds to every year.  It also puts more responsibility on the alarm companies, increases penalties to offset costs in responding to false alarms, re-builds the old registration database that was lost, and completely replaces the old alarm registration program that was deemed ineffective.

Some key points:
* The alarm companies are responsible for registering their clients who subscribe to their monitoring services. The alarm company could be fined for not registering them.
* Alarm owners who do not subscribe to a monitoring service are responsible for registering their own alarms. If they fail to register, they could get fined.
* Although the ordinance does not specifically say so, it was clarified earlier that the alarm penalties will "reset" each year. residents will be allowed one free false alarm per year, not just a total of one, forever.

A brochure further explaining the program IS NOW AVAILABLE HERE accompanying the application is an 8 page "Guide."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

BOA Meeting 1/19/10 - agenda

The second BOA meeting of the year is Tuesday, Jan 19th @ 7:00pm.  The agenda this week includes the Board voting to elect BOA representative(s) (usually one or two) to the many City Charter specified City Commissions.  Also, the BOA will be asked to formally approve Tax Refunds (mostly over payments or other errors) which have been processed by the City Tax Collector.  The only other agenda is to hear Communications: 1) to create a residential parking zone for Woodland & Tilton streets in Alderwoman Jone's Ward 21. 2) City Controller submitting the Audit statements for FY ending 6/30/2009. 3) a request to install a sign over the public sidewalk at Labyrinth Books, 290 York Street. 4) several Mayoral reappointments of citizens to various commissions (these will next go to the Aldermanic Affairs Committee). 5) the establishment of a Charter Revision Commission (this is per City Charter every 10 years) 6) a citizen's petition for property tax abatement (this will head to Tax Abatement Committee)

Meeting Agenda and Minutes (journal) can be found here (if they're not posted yet, I can usually email them to folks that request)

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 Legislative Update - State Delegation

The New Haven Legislative Delegation would like to invite the public to the 2010 Legislative Update on Saturday, January 23rd from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall. The purpose of this event is to discuss the inner workings of the legislature and the upcoming 2010 legislative session.

I'm passing along this invite which came directly to all the Aldermen but is open to the public too. It's a chance to meet your State representatives including State Representative (Ward 25 resident), Pat Dillon.