New Haven officials met with residents at City Hall on Wednesday to discuss coastal policy changes that may reshape developments along the shore — including Tweed-New Haven Airport and Long Wharf Drive.
The meeting was held to gauge residents’ views on potential adjustments to the 1983 Coastal Program, which city planners said they are currently reworking. The new plan will outline the future zoning and redevelopment of the New Haven shoreline, including possible expansions of Tweed and the closure of Long Wharf Drive, Deputy Director of City Planning Michael Piscitelli said.
David Murphy of Milone & MacBroom, Inc., the structural consulting firm hired in August to revise the Coastal Program, said many projects from the past decade have been successful, citing the Harbor Landing. Still, he said some developments administered under the program, including the Long Wharf Maritime Center Esplanade, have held less universal appeal.
“The Maritime Center is seen by some as a success and not appropriate by others,” Murphy said. “In general, we want to balance economic development, environmental concerns and public access and enjoyment.”
Wednesday’s meeting provided an opportunity for residents to voice concerns regarding their coastal neighborhoods. New Haven resident Paul Larrivee said he worries that proposals to close off Long Wharf Drive could increase area crime.
“As soon as you close down Long Wharf Drive, crime will rise,” he said. “It will only stop if you have a lot of traffic.”
Residents also said they were skeptical as to whether a new coastal project would yield any results. Ben DeLaura said he thinks the 1983 plan had promising projects that never materialized.
“After going through the process, I don’t see people following the 1983 plan,” he said. “It looks great, but how can it be implemented?”
David McCoart said he thinks New Haven needs a large developer to offer a broad vision of the city.
“If we are looking at the greater scope of New Haven, it seems to me necessary to get a national firm to take a look,” he said.
But Piscitelli said he thinks the city needs a fully updated coastal plan before it is in a position to provide a developer with a basic project.
“Our coastal program now is in no way mapped up to deal with a larger developer, [but] it is more and more likely that a large developer will come sometime,” he said.
Stephanie Rank, a realtor, said she thinks there need to be more shops and commerce to make the city’s downtown and shoreline more attractive.
But Cordalie Benoit, another New Haven resident at the meeting, said that while she thinks there is a need to review zoning in coastal areas, progress is being made.
Murphy said he thinks the draft report will be completed and presented to the City Plan Commission next month.