If Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has his way this year, the city will encourage the expansion of Science Park facilities and will close off part of the highway that connects I-95 to Yale.
Even in rough economic times, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. described expansive plans for development in his State of the City address Monday night, including the construction of the School of Management campus and the closing of the Route 34 connector from Church Street to the parking garage spanning York Street, to build four new development sites. Before a standing-room-only crowd in City Hall’s aldermanic chambers, DeStefano also focused on creating jobs in the city, expanding re-entry programs for ex-cons and instituting school reform.
Although the mayor did not discuss the city’s budget — he said he was waiting until after Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s budget address Wednesday — he said after the speech that he plans to go ahead with the projects mentioned in his speech, no matter the city’s economic situation. He did not provide specifics as to how.
“Despite the fact that the city economy is demonstrating growth, the national economy we are in is still weak,” he said in the speech.
But Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield acknowledged that DeStefano did not talk about the budget because it’s will not paint as pretty of a picture of the city’s financial situation.
“I think the budget’s going to be ugly,” Goldfield said. “It makes sense.”
Referring to New Haven’s economic growth, DeStefano called for the city to move forward with the construction of the SOM campus because it would help the University grow as a whole. He said after the meeting that he hopes the legislation committee would approve the plans at their next public hearing Feb. 11.
Aldermanic legislation committee chair and Ward 9 Alderman Roland Lemar said the committee is “on a pretty quick timeframe as we are.” He added that he does not think the application to delay city proceedings filed by New Haven Urban Design League President Anstress Farwell GRD ’78 will actually slow the process down. University Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, who was sitting with DeStefano’s wife, Kathy, during the address, declined to comment on the SOM campus’ mention in the speech.
Also at the speech, the mayor mentioned 100 College St., a mixed-used development with retail, office and laboratory space that will be built on one of the four development sites provided for by closing Route 34 and will allow for around 900 permanent jobs and 1,200 construction jobs. The building will unite the downtown, including Yale’s central campus, and Yale-New Haven Hospital, the School of Medicine and Union Station. He said the federal government has already given the city $5 million for the Route 34 project and the state has accepted the city’s initial proposal for the highway.
“[The 100 College St. project] allows us to double the size of downtown and build a bigger platform for job and tax-base growth in the city not for the years ahead, but for the decades ahead,” the mayor said.
Ward 3 Alderwoman Jacqueline James-Evans said the address was the first time she had heard of the 100 College St. project, adding that she hoped that DeStefano’s proposals will not include an increase in taxes. DeStefano said after the speech that if he may push for tax increases to fund school reform if necessary.
Both Ward 1 Alderman Mike Jones ’11 and Lemar said that the positive nature of the speech was warranted given that New Haven is in a better economic situation than other cities across the nation.
Last month marked the beginning of DeStefano’s ninth term in office.