The Board of Aldermen will hold public hearings next week on a set of resolutions that aim to jump-start a revitalization of the New Haven Harbor.
The four resolutions propose the transfer of East Shore Parkway, a strip of land in New Haven’s port that currently houses two shipping terminals and a trucking company, to the recently formed New Haven Port Authority, which stands to gain more than $120,000 annually from the transfer, Office of Economic Development officials said. Over the next month, the board will begin a series of public hearings, including two on Tuesday and Wednesday, before casting a final vote on Nov. 21.
If the resolutions pass, the transfer of property rights will generate income for the Port Authority, Office of Economic Development spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said, eventually allowing it to carry out infrastructure improvements that will help raise New Haven Harbor’s prominence in the region. Rosenberg said she expects the resolutions to pass. The Board of Aldermen had already passed a similar resolution in March 2003, she said, and the resolutions currently on the table will simply be a reaffirmation of the board’s earlier position.
“The Port Authority has been doing useful things so far,” she said. “But they will actually be able to do tangible things once [the resolution passes and] they have income. [This will help the port] grow and contribute more to the economy of the region and the city.”
Although the Port Authority currently serves to facilitate communication between government agencies and private businesses — which make up 95 percent of the port’s tenants, its duties will also include maximizing land use efficiency and solving infrastructure problems if the resolution is passed, Rosenberg said.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Rebecca Livengood ’07 said infrastructure problems lost New Haven substantial trade revenues. By expanding rail lines, she said, the Port Authority will help increase job opportunities at the port and make the Elm City a leading economic center in New England.
“We lose a lot of opportunity to cull goods to that port [due to] a small break in the rail infrastructure,” Livengood said. “Extending the rail line … [will help] create more jobs at the port.”
City officials and economists said a revitalization of New Haven’s port is important for the regional economy. New Haven’s port, one of the busiest ports in New England, is a large source of economic value, New Haven economist Don Klepper-Smith said.
“When you think about New Haven’s port, the goods that are coming in and out of the port are extremely valuable,” Klepper-Smith said. “There was an economic analysis done, and literally millions of dollars in economic value [come from that port].”
An increase in port jobs will have a ripple effect on the wider New Haven area, increasing jobs in sectors that contribute to port activities, Deputy Director of Economic Development Tony Bialecki said.
“In terms of jobs, there’s a lot of spin off demand for support, equipment, mechanisms, repairs … secondary [industries] that support the port that are located within the city or in adjacent towns,” Bialecki said.
The vitality of New Haven’s port is also important for the rest of Connecticut, Bialecki said, because increased commercial traffic coming into the port and use of I-91 and I-95 North will decrease truck traffic in southern parts of state, lessening congestion on strained highways connecting Connecticut and New York City.
Some port tenants said they welcome the Port Authority’s plans to increase efficient land use. Orest Tom Dubno, spokesperson for Gateway Terminal, which sits on East Shore Parkway, said land in the port is not always used properly, and that tenants who do not need access to water are inadvertently given prime positions in the port.
“Some tenants … don’t need to be on the water,” said Dubno, who is a non-voting member of the board. “A trucking company doesn’t need to be on the water. We need to be on the water.”
Formed in March 2003, the Port Authority is a committee made up of seven voting members, mostly city officials, and seven non-voting members representing private businesses from the port.