Tag Archive: Board of Alders

  1. Eidelson promotes youth initiatives

    Leave a Comment

    One year ago today, canvassers for Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12 and her opponent Ugonna Eze ’16 set up stands and handed out pamphlets across campus. Now, campaign signs for Eidelson are long gone and campus chatter about the local election has died down.

    But Eidelson, who represents eight of the 12 residential colleges, has been busy.

    In the year since she won re-election by a mere 17 votes, Eidelson has been working on several initiatives with fellow alders for Elm City youth. One such project — New Haven Youth Map, an online database of resources and services for children and young adults — will connect parents and their children with opportunities across the city. Eidelson said she worked on this project with the other six members of the aldermanic Youth Services Committee.

    Ward 29 Alder Brian Wingate, the committee’s chair, said she played a critical role in the website’s creation and the committee’s other endeavors.

    “Her leadership stands for itself,” Wingate said. “She really cares about the city of New Haven and its residents.”

    As part of the Youth Committee, Eidelson has also been working on The Escape — a project to create a recreational and community space for teenagers in Dixwell. City spokesman Laurence Grotheer said Mayor Toni Harp has been working with the Youth Committee to make this plan a reality. The city has leased a building on Goffe Street, though major renovations are required for the project to be finished, he added.

    City government also hopes to add a drop-in center for teens, so that homeless Elm City teenagers will be able to find shelter separate from homeless adults.

    Wingate added that Eidelson helped secure a $341,000 grant from the state for groups within the city that aim to prevent youth violence. Last year, 17 organizations in the Elm City benefited from the funds.

    She also sits on the aldermanic Legislation Committee, which deals with zoning proposals and issues related to the city’s general functioning. Earlier in her term, Eidelson helped create the process for high school students to run for two spots on the Board of Education. Eidelson explained that the positions were created when the Board of Alders examined and revised the city charter in 2013, which it does every 10 years, and decided the city would benefit from student perspectives on the BOE. Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison, vice chair of the Legislation Committee, said Eidelson almost single-handedly created the election process for the new positions.

    “We knew we wanted students, but didn’t know how to do it,” Morrison said. “When the topic came up, she said ‘this is what I think we should do’ and laid it all out.”

    Morrison added that the process for students is similar to the aldermanic election process. Candidates get a certain number of signatures from students from Elm City high schools to appear on the ballot.

    Eidelson also recently became a member of the Aldermanic Leadership Board. Members meet regularly with the mayor to coordinate and talk about different initiatives the alders are working on and oversee bond sales and transfers of funds between city departments.

    But several students, most of whom live in Ward 1, said they were not aware of Eidelson’s work on the Board. Ethan Lester ’20, who was in high school during last year’s election, said he did not know who Eidelson was. Caleb O’Reilly ’18, who considers himself politically engaged, said he did not know what she has done as an alder.

    Like O’Reilly and Lester, many students feel disconnected from their New Haven representatives: They may hit the polls during elections years, but stop paying attention in between. According to a News survey released earlier this month, less than 2 percent of the 2,054 student respondents said they were “very engaged” in Connecticut politics. This figure was more than 20 times smaller than the percentage of respondents who said they were “very engaged” in the national election.

    Lester said it is Eidelson’s responsibility to keep her constituents better informed of what she is doing.

    “If she wants us to get involved and be active in the community, then she needs to at least make sure we know she exists,” he said.

    Eidelson responded that she hopes the citywide legislative agenda survey will help involve more students in community issues. The survey asks respondents to list several city initiatives, such as community policing and the online youth map, in order of importance. It also asks for comment on the biggest problems facing New Haven and how they should be approached. Eidelson added that the Board of Alders plans to send the survey to residents across New Haven, including students, and that she has been talking with student groups at Yale about accessing panlists to distribute the survey electronically.

  2. Apartment complex proposed near Med School

    Leave a Comment

    Vacant since March 2015, a former industrial space and artist co-op on Daggett Street could soon be converted into an apartment complex.

    Last week, attorney Miguel Almodóvar and architect Robert Mangino proposed a plan to the New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals to construct 80 studio and one-bedroom apartments in the 10,000 square feet building at 69-75 Daggett St. The space had previously provided cheap, illegal housing for artists until inspectors discovered numerous code violations in an area not zoned for residential use, a city official said. If converted into apartments, the building could be popular with Yale New Haven Hospital and medical school staff, given its close proximity to the Yale School of Medicine.

    “Some people put their nose up and call [the project] gentrification because it’s providing for a more well-to-do demographic, when the property owner is simply pursuing the best use of the investment he has,” said city spokesman Laurence Grotheer, who is not directly involved in the building conversion process.

    Neighborhood residents, the Board of Alders, the city’s planning department and planning commission are involved in the project’s approval process, Grotheer said. The Livable City Initiative, an agency that looks to improve housing opportunities in the city, is also involved.

    If the project is approved, the city can issue a building permit so the construction can begin, Grotheer added.

    City officials said obtaining a residential parking permit is a point of contention for the proposed project. Residents have opposed increased parking spaces for some time, and may feel overrun by the prospect of additional YNHH staff moving into the neighborhood, a city official said.

    However, New Haven’s Deputy Director of Zoning Tom Talbot said planners are working on regulations to reduce the limit of one parking space per residential dwelling unit to one half-space. A proposal has been submitted to the Board of Alders but is still pending approval.

    According to Talbot, this change might be possible given that the Daggett Street building is located close to YNHH and many residents will likely have access to public transportation options.

    “It’s about need,” Talbot said. “We don’t want people to have to devote portions of their property to parking if they don’t need it.”

    The project falls in line with the approved change to New Haven’s zoning regulations by the Board of Alders earlier this year, which allows for conversion of existing buildings in light industrial districts to be converted into residences, Talbot said.

    Despite the project’s intent to foster city growth, many residents are concerned about change in the neighborhood. The area will be more tightly regulated with the new apartment structure, and many are concerned about the loss of the artist community.

    “People who will miss that sort of bohemian flavor [of the artist co-op] are going to complain that now [the building is] going to be apartments for people who can afford more expensive rents,” Grotheer said.

    New Haven law firm Jacobs & Rozich, which was involved in the Daggett Street building conversion proposal, declined to comment because the proposal is currently being reviewed.

    The building on Daggett Street was initially a rubber factory and integrated into the Baumann Rubber Company in 1891.

  3. New fire chief settles into department

    1 Comment

    Earlier this month, John Alston Jr. was appointed as New Haven’s new fire chief, though his position is pending confirmation by the Board of Alders.

    Alston has already assumed control of the fire department while the Board of Alders conducts its vetting and deliberation processes on the appointment. Since Oct. 10, Alston has been serving in an “acting capacity” and will maintain that status until he is confirmed by the Board of Alders. Alston’s appointment was not an item of discussion on the BOA’s Monday meeting agenda, the most recent meeting since Mayor Toni Harp announced her choice for the new chief on Sept. 29.

    Alston was present to supervise the NHFD’s response to the fire at 1187 Chapel Street last Tuesday afternoon. Battalion Chief William Gould told the News last week that Alston communicated effectively with the other firefighters at the scene. Although there were initially people trapped in the building, according to the NHFD’s Twitter account, no one was injured in the fire.

    Alston’s selection comes as the culmination of a national search for a new fire chief following the retirement of former chief Allyn Wright. Wright served as fire chief for a year and eight months before retiring this past January.

    Assistant Chief Matt Marcarelli took over as acting chief after Wright’s retirement until former assistant chief of operations Ralph Black came out of retirement in January to serve as interim fire chief.

    Mayor Toni Harp selected Alston from a pool of three finalists for the chief position.

    Rick Fontana, deputy director of operations for the Department of Emergency Management, said he and Alston have “[collaborated] essentially on a daily basis” since Alston arrived in New Haven and that he is looking forward to Alston’s leadership as well as his dynamic personality.

    “I think he will be a great asset here,” said Fontana, who was also a member of the committee that selected Alston as chief.

    Even though there is now someone at the helm of the NHFD, Fire Union President Frank Ricci said that the other highest positions in the department remain vacant.

    “The Fire department is depleted four deputy chiefs, a chief of administration and a chief of operations,” Ricci said.

    He said the highest ranking members of the department besides the chief are the battalion chiefs. Some of these senior NHFD positions, Ricci said, have been vacant for years.

    Still, Ricci remains hopeful and said he sees the department moving in a positive direction.

    “We are hopeful that labor and management will have a cooperative relationship to move the department forward,” Ricci said.

    Director of Communications Grotheer said that after two weeks on the job, Alston has been well-received “across the board.”

    Alston previously served as battalion chief in Jersey City, New Jersey before moving to the Elm City for his new job.

    “Chief Alston distinguished himself throughout the screening and interview process, and New Haven is fortunate to have his fire safety expertise, experience and training ability,” Harp said in a statement to the News.

    Before moving to New Haven, Alston served for 35 years in the Jersey City Fire Department.

    Fontada said Alston has a wealth of experience as a fire executive, both in fire management and in homeland security.

    “We were very impressed with Chief Alston from the day we met him,” Fontana said.