Mayoral hopeful and Ward 10 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 led a committee meeting of the Board of Aldermen to approve new measures to improve the city’s environmental practices.
The Board of Aldermen’s City Services and Environmental Policy Committee, which Elicker chairs, met Thursday night to discuss environmental policy affecting the Elm City. The committee moved forward with two environmentally friendly items while voting to table a measure regarding a cell tower constructed in a city park.
On its agenda was an agreement with the Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority to participate in The Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program — which would encourage local businesses to implement clean energy policies — as well as an amendment to the lease agreement between the city and The New Haven Ecology Project to extend the lease term by 10 years, both of which the committee approved.
“Both are positive improvements for the city on an environmental front,” Elicker said. “It was a good night for the environment.”
CEFIA representatives spoke with the committee Thursday night, answering questions from a previous meeting. Among these representatives was Ben Healey ’04, the current senior manager of Clean Energy Finance and former Ward 1 alderman, who said he was looking forward to working with the city to implement the program.
“It’s a great opportunity to collaborate with New Haven by bringing a clean energy project to the city and hopefully working to help building owners improve their property and work with locally sourced labor,” Healey said.
Most of the committee’s concerns focused on possible foreclosures on the properties where CEFIA would like to work. The aldermen were assured by CEFIA representatives during the meeting that if the city takes control of any property through foreclosure, past debts would be wiped away.
Next, the committee considered extending a lease term with The New Haven Ecology Project, the nonprofit organization that manages Common Ground, an environmentally themed public charter school, where a storm water diversion project is almost ready for construction work. Common Ground was able to receive state funding due to its educational status, but its lease term needs to be extended to 20 years in order to continue accessing state funding.
Ward 25 Alderman Adam Marchand, who sits on the City Plan Commission, said “good care” went into the storm water diversion project’s site plan. As a parent who sent his kids to programs at Common Grounds, Marchand said that the project would not only increase access during storms but also make Common Ground safer. All committee members were in favor of the lease extension.
The third and final item on the committee’s agenda — a lease agreement with T-Mobile for a plot of land in Fairmont Park where the company would like to construct a cell tower — did not receive approval Thursday night. The board heard from three residents of Ward 13, where the park is located, who raised questions about the effect the proposed cell phone tower could have on property values and the character of the park, as well as the lack of community involvement in the process.
The issue most emphasized in the residents’ testimonies was what would become of T-Mobile’s profit. The current plan dictates a $2,000 monthly contribution from the phone corporation to the city, an amount residents said seemed low. Following the testimony, the committee voted to hold more discussion on the matter at a later meeting.
Elicker will face State Sen. Toni Harp ARC ’78 in November’s election.