As a part of New Haven’s greater efforts to connect the Wooster Square area to downtown, New Haven officials met last night to discuss steps to improve transit options and introduce a more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly environment in the area.
New Haven recently secured a state grant for further research in developing the neighborhood, allowing the city to move ahead with the project. During Tuesday’s Downtown Wooster Square Management Team meeting, City Hall officials stressed the importance of community involvement, in addition to input from the Knights of Columbus Museum and Gateway Community College, in the development initiatives. Ward 8 Alder Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18, Ward 7 Alder Abby Roth ’90 LAW ’94 and Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81 urged city residents to participate in the steering committee formed as the main avenue for citizen participation in the process.
“We just need to know how people are going to be using the streets,” Nemerson said.
According to Greenberg, the steering committee would hopefully include residents from a wide range of backgrounds, such as owners, landlords and renters.
The city sent in the grant application in November 2014, asking for a total of $125,000, which would go toward two projects in the Downtown Crossing area.
The first initiative noted in the report is a research project to study possible future land use and transportation in the southern section of Downtown and Wooster Square. This area is currently underused, consisting primarily of parking lots. New projects in the area, including the LiveWorkLearnPlay Coliseum redevelopment, would create over 1,500 housing units in the area.
The second would create a program that would look for ways to reduce single-occupant car usage and increase transit, pedestrian and bicycle use in the neighborhood.
Roth said that, as part of the neighborhood’s development, Wooster Square will see increased enforcement of traffic rules, including the reduction of bad cycling and pedestrian behavior.
The issue of safety in the area was a source of concern, with one attendee recalling a fatal accident on Olive Street last fall, when an 81-year-old woman was killed crossing the intersection of Olive and Greene Streets in Wooster Square.
Those in attendance at the meeting also discussed ways to implement bike lanes to create a more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly environment.
Nemerson noted that state law mandates that bike lanes only operate in one direction. As a result, many streets in Wooster Square would need to create two bike lines, but most are too narrow.
The first meeting for the new steering committee will be held on March 3 at 6:30 p.m.