Yale, West Haven strengthen ties

West Campus may have a new tenant this spring: the administrators of the West Haven public school district.

West Haven’s Board of Education is currently talking with Yale administrators about temporarily taking up residence in some of West Campus’ vacant office space. If an agreement is reached, the school district’s administrators could move from their current headquarters on West Haven’s Ogden Street to the old Bayer pharmaceuticals complex in April, said Neil Cavallaro, West Haven’s superintendent of schools. As Yale increases its presence in West Haven, the move marks a growing relationship between the city and the University, said West Haven Mayor John Picard.

The move is necessary, Picard said, because the current headquarters is “in terrible shape.” Not only is it inaccessible to handicapped persons but it is not carbon efficient, he said.

“The bottom line is they have to get out of there,” he said.

The move is also an opportunity for Yale to strengthen its existing relationship with the city of West Haven, said Stephanie Spangler, associate vice president for West Campus planning.

“Over the last couple of years since Yale bought the West Campus, our mayor has worked hard to foster that relationship,” Cavallaro said.

West Haven has plans to permanently relocate its school district’s headquarters to its city hall but cannot do so until the building is renovated. Though the building is slated to be renovated in the near future, an exact timetable has not been set.

By moving into available office space on West Campus, Cavallaro said West Haven stands to save about $180,000, not taking into account moving expenses. He said even more money might be saved if the Board is able to sell its current building after the move. He estimated that it will cost the district $116,000 to operate at West Campus, $61,000 of which is rent.

Picard said West Haven plans to spend about $4 million on the city hall renovations, adding that the renovation’s initial projected cost of $20 million was “grossly exaggerated.”

But not everyone in West Haven supports the prospective move.

Opponents, Picard said, want the district’s administrators to move into a vacant office building in West Haven that the city does not own. He said some West Haven residents and members of the city’s Board of Education oppose the project because most of Yale’s West Campus complex is located outside the West Haven district, in Orange, Conn.

But Picard said moving to West Campus makes the most financial sense for the city because the facilities are already wired for administrative offices. He added that he is not concerned that part of the campus is in Orange and the location would not affect the administration’s operations.

Since Yale acquired West Campus in 2007 from Bayer Healthcare for $107 million, University officials have worked to strengthen Yale’s relationship with West Haven.

“Yale meets with me and our board of education on a regular basis,” Picard said. “Programs like the ones they already help us out with can only stand to benefit if we are closer to them.”

West Campus is approximately seven miles away from central campus.

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