Aldermen: No action on UI

As New Haven’s primary power provider, United Illuminating, prepares to uproot its Church Street headquarters and relocate to neighboring Orange, a majority of New Haven’s aldermen voted to take no action at their meeting Monday night.

But even if the Board of Aldermen had objected to the move, Ward 7 Alderwoman Frances Clark said, the body is powerless to change the company’s plans except by making things “very unpleasant” for UI.

“[UI] chose to relocate to Orange, taking with them hundreds of jobs and ensuring all their employees must sit in backed-up traffic in the most heavily traversed corridor in all of New Haven,” said Ward 9 Alderman Roland Lemar, who sponsored the request with Ward 29 Alderman and Aldermanic President Carl Goldfield and Ward 28 Alderman Mordechai Sandman.

UI has delivered New Haven’s electricity since 1899 and is scheduled to move to Orange by 2012. Complaints from city officials and residents have not altered the company’s plans, which were announced in Januray.

At a meeting held earlier this month by New Haven’s City Service and Environmental Policy committee, at which no representative from UI was present, city officials and representatives of the Connecticut Environmental Justice Network, Fight the Hike and the Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal criticized the company’s relocation plan.

“Our positions have been pretty clear for a long time,” a spokesman for UI, Al Carbone, told the News in September.

Monday evening, the Board of Aldermen also urged the proprietors of the Grove Street Cemetery not to alter any portion of the cemetery’s historic wall. School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65, whose firm is designing Yale’s planned two new residential colleges behind the cemetery, has proposed cutting openings in the cemetery’s wall along Prospect Street and replacing them with iron fences to make the route more pedestrian-friendly.

Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead bypassed the committee process which would have put off a vote on the issue until next month. While the aldermen cannot mandate that the cemetery’s proprietors preserve the wall, the board’s opinion can influence the votes of the cemetery’s 11-member standing committee, which is charged with overseeing the continued preservation of the cemetery and will be voting on Oct. 6 whether to alter the wall.

“There’s a concern for the historical nature of the Grove Street Cemetery,” Ward 10 Alderman Allan Brison said, emphasizing that there is no need to alter the wall for “Yale’s expansion.”

The board also deferred Mayor John DeStefano’s recommendation that Minh Tran ’09 be added to the board’s Youth Commission to its Aldermanic Affairs Committee, which will have a public hearing to assess all of the commission’s potential members. The Youth Commission, created nearly two years ago, consists of 18 members and advocates on behalf of New Haven’s youth. A decision on whether to add Tran, who lost a Democratic primary bid for Ward 1 alderman last spring, to the committee will be made by November.

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