The state Government Administration and Elections Committee unanimously approved a bill that will keep Union Station in the hands of New Haven, rather than the state, on March 27.
With the city’s 35-year lease to manage the station set to expire at the end of this year, the city aimed to continue running the station, which sits on land owned by the state. But the state Department of Transportation only wanted to extend the lease for a few years before handing control over it to the highest bidder. This led to the creation of House Bill 7278, which will give ownership of the station to the New Haven Parking Authority for $1 million.
“The city is eager to continue its administration of Union Station as part of a comprehensive Hill-to-Downtown redevelopment plan,” city spokesman Laurence Grotheer told the News.
He said the unanimous vote “suggests momentum” for the bill’s passage in the state Legislature, though it is difficult to predict state politics.
The unanimous vote came after a public hearing on March 20 to which many New Haven residents sent in their opinions and testimonies.
One such resident, Aaron Goode, a longtime board member of the Downtown Wooster Square Community Management Team and the New Haven Urban Design League, urged the GAE Committee to approve the bill because it would help advance New Haven’s cultural and economic growth.
“[The DOT] in practice … has not demonstrated the capability to fully actualize the state’s goals of attracting private capital investment to leverage and enhance critical transportation assets in the Metro-North corridor,” Goode wrote.
Grotheer added that the city hopes to streamline transfers from the trains to CT Transit buses and other shuttle services into New Haven. He added that the city also plans to install more bike racks, which may be helpful to many Yale students.
The bill will be referred to the Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis at 5 p.m. today. That office will issue a report about the bill before it moves forward in the House.