Last Thursday, the Board of Alders City Services and Environmental Policy Committee unanimously voted to accept a grant of over $1.1 million from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The money will be used to improve five parks across the Elm City.
In an interview with the News, Laura Cahn — the chair of the city’s Environmental Advisory Council — said that she supported more state aid coming into the city for park maintenance and emphasized the necessity of the funds.
“The more parks the better, because everyone should live within a couple of blocks from a park so that residents have access to them and will go and use them,” Cahn said.
The City Services and Environmental Policy Committee has already decided how the city will allocate the state’s aid. Over $300,000 of the funding will be used to build the Lost Generation Memorial Garden — a memorial for victims of gun violence — that will be located on Valley Street in the shadow of West Rock.
Marlene Miller Pratt, the founder and driving force of the project, had been pushing for the memorial garden for over two years. Pratt’s 18-year-old son was killed in a shooting in 1998 in New Haven’s West Hills neighborhood, which is in close proximity to Pratt’s chosen location for the memorial garden. Last Thursday, she told the board that she wanted those who have lost loved ones to gun violence to be able to visit a beautiful area to remember them, instead of a “desolate” cemetery.
In addition to the memorial, over $200,000 will be put toward park improvements at DeGale Field on Goffe Street. A splash pad and playground will be constructed, in addition to increased seating and security improvements.
“I really love that we have so many parks and that so many people care about them and use them,” Cahn told the News.
Seventeen of the New Haven Land Trust’s 50 community gardens will also benefit from the grant. New tool sheds and additional raised garden beds will be installed, as well as hoop houses that allow for crop growth during cold weather.
Ward 1 Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19 told the News that he fully supports the money that will be put toward park improvements. He said that “social cohesion is built” and is important to maintain. However, he hopes that the city will allocate some funding to improve the New Haven Green, a national landmark on which the city was founded.
“[The money should be spent] for general upkeep and beautification [of the Green],” Catalbasoglu told the News. “The grass on the southern end curves inward because it hasn’t been touched up in ages. As New Haven’s staple park, it seems like we often overlook how important this park is for the city. I hope this kick-starts a discussion surrounding the Green.”
The New Haven Green was built in 1638.
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