A more efficient and pedestrian-friendly Long Wharf — along with ferry service to Long Island — may be in the works for the New Haven Port, a city official said Tuesday afternoon.
Mike Piscitelli, the acting director of the city’s Department of Transportation, discussed ways to boost activity at the port, which was an economic powerhouse 100 years ago but now boasts only a rundown strip of large industrial storage facilities. He outlined New Haven’s plans to improve land-use efficiency, reduce the presence of trucks and increase tourism.
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“The goals for [the] waterfront are cultural enrichment, sustainable environment and economic development,” Piscitelli said. “Ports will be the driver of economic opportunities for all of New Haven.”
Included in the city’s plans are the creation of the Transload facility program, which seeks to decrease truck use by increasing railroad ties between the port and industrial areas; the extension of Harborside Trail, which provides a walking trail in the port area; and the maintenance of the Feeder Barge program, which brings in barges to efficiently store industrial resources on the 400-acre plot.
By increasing the port’s efficiency, Piscitelli said, the city would save millions in maintenance costs, thereby lowering costs for local homeowners. He also plans to expand the port area by buying out private businesses that have land near the port and to dredge the port’s channels to 42 feet below sea level, which will allow larger boats to enter.
“We are stepping beyond traditional industrial parts to something more cosmopolitan,” Piscitelli said.
Piscitelli also discussed the possibility of a ferry service from New Haven to Long Island, N.Y. Although the city is making a “real push” to bring the ferry because it is a “real opportunity to grow the economy,” he said progress was slow because few ferry companies seem to be interested in the area. Still, Piscitelli said he was optimistic.
“It has been the city policy to bring people to the waterfront,” said Piscitelli. “You will see an evolution.”
Marcia McDonald, who organized the event for the Yale University Women’s Organization, said she was impressed by Piscitelli’s knowledge of the port.
“We were all impressed that there is some focus on what’s going on with the development of the port,” McDonald said.
But Jack Dillon, a Hamden resident who attended the talk, said the presentation did not answer all of his questions about the future of the port.
“I thought some of my concerns were not addressed,” Dillon said. “I didn’t think the opinions of the oyster fishery were addressed at all. When the harbor becomes dredged, they will lose their business. I also thought they didn’t address issues with facilities for recreational boating.”
Austin Becker, who works on developing the port area in Providence, R.I., attended the event to compare New Haven’s port initiatives to those of Providence. He said he was impressed with how the Elm City is working to fix the port, especially since many of the issues the city is dealing with are very complex.
The talk was part of the organization’s Lunch and Learn series. The next event, “Go Fish,” about Yale’s involvement with the Antarctic bird population, will take place on Oct. 16 in the Klein Biology Tower.