In exchange for approximately $10 million for civic improvements on Science Hill, New Haven has granted Yale development rights on three dead-end streets in the area.
The city will abandon three dead-end streets — parts of Sachem and Mansfield streets and Prospect Place — behind Grove Street Cemetery near Ingalls Hockey Rink. University officials said no definite use for the sites has been determined, but they are considering residential, academic, or research uses.
As part of the agreement, Yale is also providing the city $250,000 for improvements to Scantlebury Park in Dixwell, the neighborhood immediately adjacent to that part of campus.
“Development of that sector ? has been a shared goal with city leadership now for many years,” Michael Morand, Yale’s associate vice president for New Haven and state affairs, said. “We?ve obviously been developing Science Hill and other areas adjacent, so this is a natural continuation of solidifying the connections across and through the campus itself.”
Morand cited the Rose Center, a community center and Yale Police Department substation that opened last year, as well as plans for a new University Health Services building in the area, as evidence of Yale’s commitment to the neighborhood.
The city is comfortable abandoning the three streets to allow for Yale?s further expansion into the Dixwell area, said Rob Smuts ’01, Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s deputy chief of staff, mostly because Yale’s relationship with the Dixwell neighborhood has become stronger during the past few years.
“What we?re most concerned are how those relationships are with the surrounding community,” Smuts said. “We would be concerned about [Yale] expanding into residential area and taking land, but as long as it’s a cooperative process with the neighborhoods and the city we’re comfortable with it. We wouldn’t just want it to buy up a neighborhood, but we think this is fine.”
The $10 million will fund street and sidewalk improvements on Prospect, Sachem, Trumbull, Canal and Lock streets, as well as repairs to the bridges on Prospect and Temple streets that cross the Farmington Canal, a greenway designed for walking or biking. Some of the money will also be used to help expand the canal, which currently ends near Prospect Street, into the Audubon Arts District.
Smuts said the University first approached the city about abandoning the three dead-ends, and the city suggested the specific projects for which the money was earmarked. Two new buildings have been recently completed along Prospect Street alone — the Daniel L. Malone Engineering Center and the 105,000 square-foot Class of 1954 Chemistry Research Building — with more in the works, and Smuts said city officials were eager to see Yale money enhance streets as well as facilities.
?We talked about some things the University could do to help with the infrastructure that are near the areas that have been most impacted by the construction,? Smuts said.
Smuts said the contribution for road improvements will benefit the entire city. He described Prospect Street as an “arterial” road in need of consistent repair, and said the two bridges would have needed replacement if not repaired soon. The University’s donation frees up money in the city budget for improvements elsewhere, he said.
Smuts said the agreement reflects a constructive era in town-gown relations. Both Smuts and Morand described the negotiations over this deal as “cordial,” and Smuts cited Yale’s most recent agreement with the city as evidence that the relationship is more than just “quid pro quo.”
“I’m not sure these things would line up — $10.25 million for three street abandonment,” he said.
Morand said construction work will begin, weather permitting, as soon as the engineers finish drafting up plans. He said a planning process will begin in the fall to determine the best use for the new site behind the cemetery.