Board debates memorials for victims

On Nov. 29, discussion became heated in the hall of aldermanic chambers as city legislators discussed a storm-water authority.

The meeting addressed a number of city issues, ranging from hometown heroes to street signage, but during discussion of the issue expected to raise the most controversy — a proposed ordinance regarding street memorials for those who have died violent deaths on the streets — only a single person attended the meeting to debate.

The Board of Aldermen, meeting yesterday, discussed everything from hometown heroes to street signage.
Salvador Andrade
The Board of Aldermen, meeting yesterday, discussed everything from hometown heroes to street signage.

The atmosphere was solemn as discussion began, as the family of Specialist Andre Craig, who served in the 4th infantry brigade in Iraq, was called forward. The board has chosen to honor Craig, who died from injuries sustained in combat, by naming the corner of Wilson and Rosette streets the Specialist Andre Craig, Jr. Corner.

Craig’s mother, Joyce Craig, tearfully remembered her son for those in attendance.

“That was his dream … to fight for his country,” Craig said. “He told me — I’m so glad that I’m over here helping these people.”

Next on the agenda was a request from Yale for approval of a revocable license for underground chilled water, fire and electrical-service utility improvements near Stoeckel Hall on Wall Street. After hearing the proposal, aldermen quickly granted approval.

“I don’t see any problems with the proceedings — seems like a pretty standard, secure building site,” Ward 6 Alderwoman Dolores Colon said.

The fifth item on the agenda was an order allowing the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to participate in a pilot program hoping to establish a municipal storm-water authority.

New Haven is one of four communities chosen by the state to participate in the program.

Although it passed, the order first faced skepticism from Ward 5 Alderman Jorge Perez.

“What my constituents care about is if I vote for something that will cost them more money,” he said. “But that’s for another day.”

If implemented, the program would require all property holders in New Haven, even those who are tax-exempt, to pay a user fee in order to have water access.

The final issue of the night was one that has raised heated debate since the summer. The ordinance — which requires grieving families to secure a permit in order to erect street memorials and requires the dismantling of those memorials within 30 days of their erection — passed unanimously.

The order passed despite an impassioned speech against it by New Haven resident Douglas Bethea, whose son was killed a year ago this week on Ashmun Street.

“In the black community, this is how we mourn,” Bethea said. “We have people shooting other people every other day. There are more important things to worry about than this memorial situation. While cops are monitoring the memorials, someone could be getting shot and killed.”

Bethea said he maintains a memorial for his son at the site of his death, which he said he cleans two to three times a week.

The Board of Aldermen will next meet Monday, Dec. 3.

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