Vaibhav Sharma, Staff Photographer

New Haven celebrated the approval of over $47 million in State Bond funds to be invested in public infrastructure around the city.

According to a press release sent out by Mayor Justin Elicker and Senate President Martin Looney, the list of projects includes improvements to Union Station and the New Haven Green, developments in traffic safety and affordable housing on Whalley Avenue, improving drainage and reducing flooding on Union Avenue, construction in Long Wharf, renovations to the Shubert Theatre and the redevelopment of the Goffe Street Armory.

“The projects and initiatives funded by the State Bond Commission today are transformative investments that will help drive local economic growth, modernize our public transportation infrastructure, build and maintain affordable housing, improve our parks and recreational facilities, uplift our neighborhoods and enhance the quality of life of New Haven residents,” Elicker said at a press conference announcing the funds on Oct. 6.

The State Bond Commission, a 10-member body, including Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and other state officers and legistors, under the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management. The commission decides on and approves the allocation of funds to finance projects around the state as proposed by Lamont. 

All of the projects approved for funding were on the agenda for the State Bond Commission’s meeting on Oct. 6, and had previously been on a Bond Bill voted on by the General Assembly. Commision projects can be for various areas in Connecticut, including New Haven.

“There are projects that state agencies request to be included in this bill or [that are] included at the request of members of the state legislature,” Chris Collibee, director of Communications at the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, wrote to the News.

The bonds approved are a mix of General Obligation Bonds, or bonds to be paid back through general state taxes, and Special Tax Obligation Bonds, which will be paid back through taxes on motor vehicles and their fuel. Both types of bonds will be paid back over a span of 20 years.

The latest allocations are part of a long-standing partnership between state and city officials on economic development and infrastructure projects that has improved under the Lamont Administration, Carlos Eyzaguirre, Economic Development Officer/Business Projects Manager at the city’s Economic Development Administration, told the News.

“The state really understands this city,” Eyzaguirre said.

The largest receiver of funds was New Haven Union Station, which is owned by the state but managed by the New Haven Parking Authority. Union Station received $15 million under the “Let’s Go!” transportation investment program, a Connecticut program to “transform” the state’s transportation system to support the economy. The $15 million will be used to enhance the property, with improvements including a new “multimodal hub,” a new parking structure and a rental car facility. The funds will also be used to make improvements to the flow of traffic in the area.

New Haveners should anticipate completion of renovations around 2025, Douglas Hausladen ’04, executive director of the Parking Authority, estimated. Planning and design will commence in the coming months with input from the public. Hausladen and Eyzaguirre both encouraged New Haven residents to get involved in the planning process, which so far has included an opportunity to submit feedback on the project.

In addition, $5.8 million were allocated for the New Haven Downtown Roadway Drainage Project to address flooding on Union Avenue, a partial match for a $25 million grant that New Haven received from FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC, program in 2022.

These funds will contribute to an extensive city partnership with state and federal agencies to address flooding, sea level rise and increasingly severe hurricanes after floods in September 2022, including expanded drainage capacity and a seawall to protect Long Wharf. 

Various projects around Whalley Avenue were also large recipients of State Bond funds, receiving $7 million for pedestrian and bicycle-friendly upgrades to street infrastructure and a new affordable housing project run by Glendower/St. Luke’s Development Corporation.

St. Luke’s Development Corporation is a community organization focusing on safely developing the area surrounding St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Whalley Avenue. Their collaboration with the Glendower Group, a private affordable housing developer that “provides consulting services, including sourcing allocation, identifying funds, and compliance/asset management services for projects, particularly in low-income, distressed communities,” will focus on augmenting the number of affordable housing units along Whalley Avenue.

Neither St. Luke’s Development Corporation nor the Glendower Group responded to multiple requests for comment.

Like the Glendower/St. Luke’s project, many of the programs that received bond funding are public-private partnerships, a form of cooperation which Eyzaguirre hopes to continue. Included is a $4.99 million allocation for renovations to the Shubert Theatre, a historic venue on College Street. 

Three million dollars was allocated for demolition at the former Gateway Community College site to facilitate the city’s Long Wharf Plan, and $2.3 million for the expansion of the Shoreline Greenway Trail from Long Wharf to East Haven.

“All of these projects, though diverse in their nature and scope, share the common objective of enhancing development in New Haven and helping the city, its residents, nonprofits and businesses reach their full economic potential,” Looney said at the press conference. “It is gratifying to see such a large and broad financial commitment by the State of Connecticut in one of its oldest and largest cities and which serves as a regional hub for education, business, transportation and the arts.”

The State Bond Commission has allocated over $1 billion in bonds so far in 2023.

Mia Cortés Castro covers City Hall and State Politics, and previously covered Cops and Courts. Originally from Dorado, Puerto Rico, she is a sophomore in Branford College studying English.