With a modest crowd of 20 concerned citizens, the Downtown/Wooster Square Community Management Team convened for its first ever public meeting Tuesday evening.
The members of the interim community management team board have been working for the past three and half months to organize the team and write its bylaws, but this was the first time the management team opened its doors to the public.
“The management team is a forum for the community, the city agencies, the police and the district manager to come together and work on problems identified by the people,” New Haven police officer Joe Avery said. “Every neighborhood has its own makeup and problems. This forum is the best way to deal with those problems.”
The Downtown/Wooster Square Community Management Team is responsible for the neighborhoods of downtown New Haven and Wooster Square, extending generally from Trumbull Street to North Frontage Road and from Park Street to Bradley Street. Teams are generally associated with police districts, and 12 teams already exist in New Haven.
The team can tackle any issues that the executive board and the community members involved in the management team want to address.
“These meetings are not about beating up on local officials,” interim board co-chairman Andrew Orefice said. “They’re not sessions to yell. They’re about working really hard to find community solutions.”
The community members present at this first meeting expressed concerns about public safety. The discussion centered around traffic issues, touching on the lack of parking in both residential and commercial areas downtown and also on pedestrian safety.
“I came to this meeting because of public safety issues,” said Lynne Shapiro, a resident of the Madison Towers apartment building on Park Street.
District manager Sgt. Luiz Casanova said the duty of the board is to contact experts who can help solve specific problems. That way, he said, the board and the experts can meet one-on-one to find a solution.
Orefice presented five tentative subcommittees to deal with various problems downtown: public safety, the Livable City Initiative, membership, the Civilian Review Board, and neighborhood development. Community members will make up these subcommittees.
Political science professor David Cameron said he thinks the Civilian Review Board could benefit from having a representative from the downtown team, because of the high crime activity in that area.
“It would be useful to have someone representing that area to bring a perspective that the rest of us don’t have,” Cameron said.
Many of those present at the meeting expressed a desire to include Yale students in the Downtown/Wooster Square community management team.
“We want to welcome people from Yale itself to the community management team,” Casanova said. “They’re part of the community.”
Orefice said some of the results he hopes to see are a strong relationship between the team and the community in downtown New Haven and Wooster Square.
“In the short term I hope to see big growth — to make a lot of noise and see what people want done,” Orefice said. “I want to see an active body that has local community involvement — the people doing their civic duty.”