Brian Zhang, Contributing Photographer

During a virtual meeting on Thursday evening, the Fair Haven Community Management Team discussed updates on community environmental projects as well as challenges that the neighborhood is currently confronting.  

At the meeting, attendees brought up both existing and new efforts. They started with a conversation about what residents saw as an increase in neighborhood crime. But New Haven Police Department sergeant and Fair Haven district manager Michael Fumiatti said that crime statistics matched those of past years. Attendees included residents, leaders of the CMT and city officials, and the event also featured nominations for CMT board positions. 

“It’s not just about violence prevention, but also about building community,” said Fair Haven resident Sarah Miller, who thanked community volunteers for their recent efforts. 

From Sept. 14-30, Fair Haveners organized recreational events in a parking lot near East Pearl Street that was known for being a crime hotspot. The events featured opera singers, dance performances and food. According to Miller, the effort was a community-based approach to reduce shootings and criminal activity by using up the space during hours with peak crime rates, and it was made possible by local volunteers. The residents are hopeful to expand this effort to host game nights and other bonding activities. 

Despite the recent instances of violence in Fair Haven these past few months, Fumiatti noted that crime statistics for the neighborhood were generally either identical or lower in comparison to last year. Still, he encouraged community members to continue assisting in the fight to address the area’s violence. 

“When people are out in the community, you really feel and know what’s going on rather than someone else telling you what the issues are,” he said.

Meeting attendees also discussed projects that emphasized conservation and facility maintenance. 

Carmen Mendez — a neighborhood specialist for the City of New Haven’s Livable City Initiative Office — highlighted two upcoming clean-up events that are part of the neighborhood’s anti-litter campaign. On Oct. 16 and 23, community members will be working together to clean up Grand Avenue and Ferry Street.

In collaboration with the Fair Haven Economic Development Committee, the CMT is currently in the process of renovating and maintaining properties that are struggling to meet community conservation standards, according to Brent Peterkin, the executive director of environmental nonprofit Gather New Haven. Peterkin explained that cultivating cultural connections and affording access to local lands and waters can be powerful mediums of social and environmental justice. 

Another project by the CMT this fall aims to promote awareness of the green spaces in New Haven that the public can take advantage of for recreation. One example is the Mill River Trail, a path that will eventually connect Fair Haven’s Criscuolo Park to East Rock once it finishes undergoing construction. 

Carlos Velazquez ENV ’22, a student intern at the School of Environment’s Urban Resources Initiative, said that the URI plans to host an event showcasing “the work that the community has done [at the Mill River Trail], [its] different ecological benefits … and the different opportunities to volunteer at the trail.” 

The event, scheduled for Oct. 23, will consist of public tours of the trail in both English and Spanish, and Velazquez said he hopes that it will educate attendees on how to simultaneously enjoy and protect the space. 

The mission of the CMT delves beyond overarching neighborhood commitments to also cater to low-income families who have been struck especially hard by the pandemic, said CMT co-chair Lee Cruz. 

He mentioned that team members are currently in conversation with City Hall officials to maximize employment opportunities. According to Fair Haven library manager Kirk Morrison, the library is planning to host a weekly mobile market in its front lawn to ensure that people who rely on food benefits have access to fresh produce.

Minutes for last Thursday’s meeting can be found here.

BRIAN ZHANG
Brian Zhang is a first year in Davenport College.