Tag Archive: New Haven

  1. Food and giving highlight Restaurant Week

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    Restaurant Week, one of the most popular culinary events in New England, returns to New Haven this Sunday, Oct. 30, and runs through Friday, Nov. 4.

    Twenty-eight New Haven restaurants will participate in the event, which is organized by Market New Haven, a nonprofit that aims to promote commerce and the arts, in partnership with Citizens Bank. Residents can eat three-course lunches for $20.16 and dinners for $34, and restaurants can showcase their menus and broadcast their images to both new and returning customers.

    Most menus feature variations of their signature dishes, but Restaurant Week is also a chance for chefs to be playful and inventive and experiment with seasonal ingredients, said Ryan Howard, managing partner of Elm City Social.

    “With the special prices and menus, we can expand beyond our core demographic of graduate students and young professionals,” Howard says. “We can attract different crowds — the elderly, undergraduates and people from outside New Haven.”

    His eatery, American with a new-age twist, will feature such delicacies as roasted pumpkin salad, pan-seared grouper cheek, a strawberry rhubarb tart, and a foie gras push pop.

    With a reduced parking rate, only $4 from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. in Temple and Crown street garages, and unparalleled dining discounts, Market New Haven anticipates that food aficionados everywhere will flock to Elm City next week.

    “It’s a great opportunity for the restaurant community to showcase New Haven as a whole,” Howard said. “And, it’s great to give back to the customers — to give them a piece of what we do at a discounted price.”

    He added that Restaurant Week is a gift to eateries and eaters alike.

    The giving does not stop there. Last fall, Restaurant Week raised $14,742 for the Connecticut Food Bank, an organization that sources and delivers food to those in need nearby. The charitable effort will continue this year.

    “Every dollar donated gives enough to prepare two meals for those in need,” said Paul Shipman, communications and marketing director at the Connecticut Food Bank. “It is a wonderful opportunity for the community to get together and support us — to turn dollars quickly into food. We love the enthusiasm and visibility that it generates. We all benefit, the local economy, too.”

    When guests receive their checks, they are invited to make a $1 donation to support the Connecticut Food Bank and contribute to #buckforatruck, an initiative to stock a refrigerated food truck delivering food to pantries and soup kitchens in six Connecticut counties. Unlike other distributors, the food bank aims for 35 percent of its offerings to be fresh and local fruit, vegetables and meats.

    Marina Gonzalez, who owns the Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant Olea, said she is proud that her restaurant is a part of the event even though she must serve food at a significantly lower price. A three-course dinner without drinks would typically cost about $60.

    “It is important to get the community involved in supporting charities like the Connecticut Food Bank,” Gonzalez said. “A dollar goes a long way, especially during the holidays.”

    This year, Restaurant Week’s prices have increased, which incentivizes more expensive restaurants to participate but excludes those with lower price points. For this reason, Prime 16, one of New Haven’s top-rated beer and burger destinations, will not be joining.

    Though manager Larry Townsend said he respects Restaurant Week’s goals and charitable work, he explained that Prime 16’s involvement would not be fair to his customers.

    “The simple fact is that we would have to raise the prices on our menu to meet Restaurant Week’s criteria,” he said. “We have our own events to draw in customers, like Happy Hour Monday through Friday.”

    But Megan Bresnahan, general manager at the participating Caseus, a fromagerie and bistro, thinks the increase in prices is fair, adding that even though the price has increased, restaurants offer an enormous discount to students.

    The normal prices at these New Haven eateries make Restaurant Week a deal for diners. Without beverages, an appetizer, entrée and dessert at Elm City Social or Caseus would cost about $44. At Harvest, a snack, starter and entree goes for about $55.

    The 28 restaurants are all taking reservations.

  2. Student panel discusses refugees

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    Four students spoke Wednesday evening on a panel about refugee resettlement in the Elm City and abroad.

    At the event Refugee Journey: Travel, Arrival and Integration, co-hosted by Yale United Nations Children’s Fund and the Yale Refugee Project, roughly 40 students and community members viewed short films before hearing the panelists discuss their experiences in William L. Harkness Hall. Rosa Shapiro-Thompson ’19, Advocacy and Awareness Coordinator of the Yale Refugee Project and event organizer, said the group wanted to have a diverse panel of speakers who had done work or research surrounding refugee issues.

    One of the panelists, Susan Aboeid ’19, spoke about her experience tutoring refugee children in New Haven public schools as the curricular developer and tutor coordinator for undergraduate student group Students of Salaam.

    “I think one of the main things we can do as students is just viewing refugees as humans,” Aboeid said.

    SOS was founded last year in response to a need in New Haven public schools for refugee students mentorship, Aboeid said. The group now boasts roughly 30 tutors who work once a week with classes and families and  attempts to match children with tutors who speak their language, she said.

    SOS is also hoping to bridge gaps between refugees and the New Haven community to fight the media’s negative portrayals of refugees, Aboeid said. On Thursday, SOS will host an open forum about the 2016 election for community members at the New Haven Public Library. New Haven is one of 31 sanctuary cities in the U.S.

    Danilo Zak ’18, director of Direct Assistance for the Yale Refugee Project, said Yale has many campus organizations to support refugees. But beyond service work, people must watch the ways they discuss refugees, he said. Many people tend to view refugees as either people to be feared or saved, but neither outlook truly represents them, Zak said — instead, refugees should be viewed as ordinary people.

    Redha Qabazard SPH ’18, who has worked at the Yale Center for Child Studies and in Beirut, discussed the effects of violence and displacement on children.

    “Migration isn’t the end of violence,” Qabazard said. “These refugee camps are also concentrated areas of danger.”

    He spoke about the trauma that occurs after families leave conflict situations for crowded refugee camps, and the difficulties parents face when they attempt to raise their children without access to proper resources.

    Gathe Kiwan ’17, another panelist and a Syrian-American dual citizen, spoke about his experience working in refugee camps. He said people must stand up to xenophobic rhetoric when they hear it.

    There are nearly 21.3 million refugees in the world, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

  3. Female entrepreneurs pitch businesses in Ubers

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    Pitches are no longer confined to the elevator.

    Businesswomen across the nation pitched their startups to investors while riding Ubers in New Haven, Kansas City, Baltimore and three other U.S. cities on Wednesday. The event, which was created in collaboration with Uber, business accelerator The Refinery and the Kauffman Foundation, kicked off the “Fueling the Growth” competition. The 20 semifinalists selected from UberPITCH will be notified Nov. 2 of whether they have advanced to the next round in Stamford, where they will compete for $125,000 in prize money.

    The event’s goal was to empower female entrepreneurs, whose companies received only 3 percent of total venture capital funding between 2011 and 2013 when they were the ones in a CEO position, according to The Refinery co-founder Jennifer Gabler.

    “It’s about making those connections for women entrepreneurs in real time,” Gabler said.

    Out of 275 applicants, 150 entrepreneurs received redemption codes to plug into the Uber app, Gabler said. After a participant punched in the code, she was given the option to request an UberPITCH. Once the request was made, a female Uber driver picked her up and she had the opportunity to give a seven-minute pitch to an investor in the back seat.

    In New Haven, pickup spots are located outside several coffee shops, such as Blue State and Starbucks Coffee.

    “I thought it was fun. It was a creative idea,” Elidah CEO Gloria Kolb, one of the 150 entrepreneurs, said.

    However, that does not mean the pitch session went smoothly at first: Originally, Kolb was picked up by an Uber driver who had previously been given a promotion code, but had then been notified she was no longer needed for the event. Thus, there was no investor in the backseat when Kolb entered the car, Kolb said.

    After the confusion, Kolb hopped into a second vehicle with an actual investor, Cynthia Tseng from Fairview Capital. Kolb then pitched Elidah’s product, a device used to treat stress urinary incontinence.

    Unlike many treatments for SUI that require invasive surgery, Elidah’s device is worn in the perineal region for 20 minutes and electrically stimulates nerves and muscles, acting as Kegel exercises. Treatment continues for four to five days a week during a six to eight week period. Once therapy is completed, patients use the device weekly to maintain continence, Kolb said.

    “It was nice that the investor was a woman; that always makes it easier for me,” Kolb said.

    Even though one-third of women experience urinary incontinence, Kolb added, some male investors don’t find enough value in the product.

    Kolb enjoyed the atmosphere the car drive created, she said, since the proposal was conversational instead of seeming like a pitch.

    As a result, the entrepreneurs were able to receive productive feedback. Hugo CEO Leslie Krumholz said she considered using a slideshow on a tablet for her pitch but decided not to since the competition rules were unclear. After she presented her business — a mobile application that would allow patients to record their personal health history from medical offices and opt into voluntarily sharing the information with data users — Crossroads Venture Group Executive Director Mary Anne Rooke told Krumholz that a slideshow would have benefitted the pitch, according to Krumholz.

    In addition, Rooke advised Krumholz not to hold back on the positive high-profile reviews the product has received in future presentations.

    The semifinalists will compete in Stamford on Nov. 16.

  4. Apartment complex proposed near Med School

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    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.

  5. Negotiations continue over Union Station garage

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    A new parking garage at Union Station has become a major source of tension between Elm City and state officials.

    The new Union Station parking garage — a seven-story structure with 1,000 parking spaces — will begin construction next spring and end construction by 2019. Once in service, the new lot will increase the number of current parking spaces by 740, meeting rising demand from increasing train ridership. City and state officials have been in talks to change the lots for 15 years, with the current parking garage often reaching full capacity during the week, said Douglas Hausladen ’04, acting executive director of Park New Haven and director of the Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking. But disagreements over the vision for the building have drawn out the planning process.

    “For a long time, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the current parking structures at Union Station are full to capacity,” Hausladen said. “Every weekday during peak hours, the Union Station parking is completely full, so part of this is about expanding this capacity to allow access to our train system.”

    During preparations, the local government and the residents of New Haven have called for retail outlets in the parking complex in addition to bike storage, a bus depot and a pedestrian bridge over the tracks. Residents also expressed concern about pollution and traffic in the area nearby.

    Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81, economic development administrator, acknowledged that the conflicting interests of parties involved led to different visions for the project.

    “We each are trying to do what we think is best for our citizens,” he said. “We represent specifically the 130,000 citizens of New Haven and the millions of people who come in and out every year using the city. The state’s got other interests. They’ve got many big systems they have to operate. The state is three million people. Many of them don’t live in New Haven. We all have different interests.”

    The state has cited its own ownership over the property to justify its jurisdiction over the project, with state officials now in negotiations with the city regarding the final plan for the garage.

    Hausladen, who also represents the city’s interests, added that all negotiations have been fair and that he is optimistic for a solution.

    “We’ve always been cooperative with the state,” he said. “The state has always been cooperative and perceptive. I think we had a constructive disagreement. You know, we had a slight vision difference, and that got played out behind closed doors and in front of open doors if you will, but again, this is a healthy democracy where we had a disagreement, and we have continued to work together, and we have made promises and commitments to continuing to improve the project to the best for the residents of New Haven and also for the residents of the state of Connecticut.”

    Kevin Nursick, Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesman, echoed Hausladen’s statements about the productive nature of negotiations. He added that the new plans will relocate and expand bike parking, as well as a bus turnout lane in front of the garage, with opportunities for food trucks and other mobile retail outside the new garage.

    “DOT and the City are working together to develop a building program that meets the purpose and need of the project,” he said. “In addition to providing both vehicular and pedestrian connections between garages, the DOT’s project will allow for future connection of an aerial pedestrian bridge that will connect to each of the center island platforms of the station.”

    But the state will not pursue a bus depot or adjacent residential building with retail, he said, adding that the state’s priority is to optimize parking.

    Though the complex will cost between $40 and $60 million, the old garage proved to be an economic investment for the state’s parking authority, with a total profit of $1.7 million in the 2015 fiscal year. Moreover, the affordable housing complex Church Street South, located across the street, will be replaced with 1,000 units of market price housing. Noting the potential for economic development, city officials stressed the need to include commercial retail near the area to exploit that new hub of residents.

    In the long-term future, the project’s planners are also concerned that cars are becoming less popular given rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft and the potential for self-driving cars, Hausladen said. Currently 30 percent of New Haven residents do not own cars.

    To ensure that the new lot will be filled, the parking authority will seek partnerships with nearby businesses and institutions, Hausladen added.

    “What’s important and the DOT recognizes and realizes is that Union Station is a very important place in the state of Connecticut and the city of New Haven,” he said. “It is the welcome mat for so many customers of our state and also so many customers of our city.”

    Union Station began serving New Haven commuters in 1920.

  6. New Haven bridge up for national award

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    The recently renovated Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven is in the running for one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for transportation infrastructure.

    On Sept. 9, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials announced that the bridge, which carries Interstate 95 over the Quinnipiac River, was among 12 construction projects chosen out of 84 to advance to the Grand Prize competition in the America’s Transportation Award. The award is an annual effort to recognize outstanding engineering feats in the field of highways and transportation and will be announced on Nov. 14.

    “The new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge is a beautiful, welcome new feature in [New Haven]; its pleasing aesthetics are as enjoyable as the undeniable traffic improvements,” Mayor Toni Harp said in a statement to the News. “It’s more evidence of a city moving forward, making New Haven even more attractive to new residents, businesses and visitors.”

    The bridge — referred to as the “Q-bridge,” in reference to the river it spans — gained attention among experts in the transportation community in July 2015 after renovations to replace the old six-lane girder bridge with the new, uniquely designed 10-lane bridge were completed. Those renovations, which started in 2008, constituted the biggest project ever undertaken by the Connecticut Department of Transportation to date and employed a modern design new in the U.S., according to the State Department of Transportation project engineer Matthew Briggs, who has worked on the bridge for the past eight years.

    On June 7, AASHTO recognized the new bridge for its “best use of innovation” in the competition’s “large project” category. For that earlier award, the bridge was selected from projects in the northeastern U.S., while the final round of awards underway now considers projects from across the country.

    This is the ninth year America’s Transportation Award is shining light on transportation projects across the nation. The organization has teamed up with the American Automobile Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a joint effort to highlight the importance of transportation infrastructure.

    “The competition was created to showcase those transportation projects that the public never really notices despite the fact that they’re improving safety and making travel safer and more reliable,” AASHTO Manager of Media Relations Tony Dorsey said.

    He pointed out that approximately 300 million trips are taken on America’s roadways each day and added that the wellbeing of such infrastructure has implications for the economy and the population’s productivity.

    The Q-bridge is now in the running for two final awards from the organization: the People’s Choice Award and Grand Prize. The recipient of the former is decided based on the number of online votes, which can be cast by anyone who wishes to do so, while the recipient of the latter is chosen by a panel of transportation experts and indicates “the best of the best,” according to Dorsey. Both prizes will be awarded alongside a $10,000 grant to be donated to a charity chosen by the respective state’s DOT.

    When the old Q-bridge was erected in 1958, it was the also the longest bridge of its kind in the western hemisphere. It could accommodate 40,000 trips per day, which Briggs said was impressive for that era. As traffic volume has risen over time, however, the structure started failing to accommodate the 140,000 vehicles that now rely on its service.

    The new bridge boasts four more lanes than its predecessor and can accommodate an estimated 160,000 vehicles per day. Briggs told the News that Connecticut was able to complete the renovations in time and under budget, with the project’s cost totaling about $416.7 million.

    “It’s a magnificent bridge,” Briggs said. “We believe it to be the signature bridge of the state of Connecticut and a gateway to southern New England.”

    He added that the department is proud to have been recognized for their work but that the nomination only validates what he and his team “knew all along” — that the Q-bridge is a special bridge.

    The Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge spans approximately 4,200 feet.

    Correction, Oct. 28: Due to an editorial error, a previous version of this article misstated the total cost of the Q-bridge’s renovation.

  7. Exhibit merges art and social justice

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    This October, the act of bridging the gap between Yale and the Elm City can go beyond just public outreach and community service.

    On Sunday, the Yale Humanist Community sponsored “Art as Social Justice,” an exhibit and panel discussion featuring seven Connecticut-based artists. The exhibit, which is on display in Silliman College’s Maya’s Room until early November, highlights the role of art as a tool for social activism and building movements. The panel also served as an opportunity to introduce the Green Light Project, a community-based initiative that focuses on creating stronger bonds between New Haven and Yale through the installation of a sculpture on the New Haven Green. The piece, which stands 17 feet high, has nine sides that represent the nine squares of the original New Haven Colony plan. The sculpture will be done in aluminum and plexiglass and will glow brighter as more people surround it.

    Chris Stedman, executive director of the Yale Humanist Community, said that he believes the sculpture has the potential to foster closer ties between the city and the University. He said that it celebrates Yale and the Elm City’s “shared humanity,” encouraging interpersonal relationships among all the city’s residents.

    “We hope that the seasonal interactive sculpture will create opportunities for people to stop, gather and connect with one another in the center of New Haven during a time of year that can feel challenging, even isolating, for so many,” Stedman said.

    Ted Salmon, owner of EWS 3-D — an architectural metal fabrication company — and the sculptor heading the Green Light Project, said he got inspiration for the images directly from the local community.

    Community building and representation were also themes central to the panelists’ works. Sculptor Eóin Burke raised questions about representing figures and bodies in his work through the “lens of privilege” as a white male. Arvia Walker discussed her photography, which features protesters in the Black Lives Matter movement. She emphasized her desire to “change and elevate” the narratives surrounding black and brown communities, something she hopes to do by documenting the movement’s children. Similarly, Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, who work with mixed media, created an interactive installment called “The Wave.” The project was intended to serve as an educational tool to raise awareness about the global water crisis.

    Painter Tracie Cheng noted that even pieces that do not overtly address social justice issues can take on meanings of their own separate from the artist.

    “I really enjoy seeing the amount of questions that come up when people look at my paintings. I like when they answer the questions themselves,” Cheng said. “In instances when they’re really struggling with something, they see so much more depth in my work than I can offer them.”

    Other artists agreed that the role of emotion is central when connecting to a broader audience. Walker said that emotion allows for the piece to become a catalyst in addressing a larger issue, adding that it invokes a human response within the viewer.

    Juancarlos Soto, a graphic designer, emphasized the universal quality art can take on when creating bonds and organizing movements. Soto, who moved to the U.S. from Puerto Rico when he was 16, initially struggled with English and communicated through drawing.

    “Often, when I couldn’t get what I wanted to say out, I would sketch it out. People could then understand what I was trying to say,” Soto said. “Art transcends language, and it amplifies our voices in ways that regular organizing can’t usually do. It’s also something that lasts much longer than the person who created it.”

    On Nov. 13, the Green Light Project will host a fundraising event featuring food from local restaurants and comedy followed by the conceptual unveiling of the interactive sculpture on the New Haven Green.

  8. Crêpes Choupette owner debuts new food cart

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    At lunch hour on Tuesday, New Haven residents bought raclette, a cheese-based dish native to Switzerland, from America’s first raclette tricycle-cart.

    Owner Adil Chokairy, who also owns the restaurant and food cart Crêpes Choupette, and his employees served plates of roasted potatoes, ham, bread, white pearl onions and pickles covered with melted raclette cheese on the sidewalk near College and Grove Streets for the cart’s grand opening. Called “Raclette Les 4 Vallées,” the cart sells the Swiss dish for six to seven dollars a plate.

    “The idea was only an idea, but it’s thanks to Yale students and Yale faculty members that we’re able to operate,” Chokairy said.

    Though a large share of Chokairy’s crêpe cart business is made up of Yale-affiliated buyers, the raclette cart still needs to build its own customer base. On its first day, the cart brought a lot of curiosity from students, but since many were unfamiliar with the dish, few people purchased plates, said employees working the cart around 1:45 p.m.

    The inspiration for the tricycle-cart and restaurant combination of Raclette Les 4 Vallées stemmed from Anthony Chokairy, the owner’s nephew who moved from Valais, where he used to live with the rest of his family, to New Haven last year.

    “Every weekend, I went to my grandmother’s house, and we ate raclette,” Chokairy said.

    Now, Chokairy wants to share this cultural aspect from his upbringing with New Havenites.

    Unlike Chokairy’s crêpe cart, many students do not recognize the type of food Raclette Les 4 Vallées serves. Out of 10 Yale students surveyed in Bass Café, nine were familiar with crêpes but only two had heard of the dish raclette.

    One student, Thomas Gmür ’18, shares a home with raclette: the Swiss Canton of Valais.

    “There’s a festive aspect to it, people enjoy having it together,” Gmür said of the dish.

    Authentic raclette cheese, which Raclette Les 4 Vallées serves, is produced from cows that live in the pastures of Valais, Gmür explained. The semi-soft cheese liquefies easily, so it is melted with either a raclette machine, the method used by Raclette Les 4 Vallées to melt its cheese, or a wood-burning fire.

    According to Gmür, when eating raclette, people avoid drinking carbonated drinks since the cheese is “pretty fatty.” At Raclette Les 4 Vallées, a traditional accompaniment, hot tea, will be available for purchase at the cart, Chokairy said. Eventually, Chokairy plans to serve white wine with the raclette, but he will only serve that at the upcoming Raclette Les 4 Vallées restaurant.

    The restaurant will be located next door to Crêpes Choupette on Whitney Avenue and plans to open by February of next year. On Oct. 21, Chokairy signed the lease for the building, which was previously occupied by Tony’s Orangeside Donuts.

    The raclette cart is the latest addition to Adil Chokairy’s businesses in New Haven. The Paris native started in June 2014 with his crêpe cart and after much success, opened the permanent location on September 2015.

    A wheel of raclette cheese weighs 13 pounds.

  9. NHPD adds 16 new patrol cars

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    The New Haven Police Department’s patrol fleet has received a long-awaited upgrade, with 16 new Dodge Chargers slated to go into use in the next few weeks.

    The addition will help revive a fleet that has long needed improvements. Earlier this year, the New Haven Police Union filed a complaint with the state labor department, alleging that the patrol cars were unsafe for use, according to the New Haven Independent.

    Many of the current patrol cars are in “deplorable condition,” suffering from the wear and tear that comes with being driven during back-to-back eight-hour shifts every day, NHPD spokesman David Hartman said.

    “These new cars will instantly become a vital part of the equipment deployed all day long and all night to help men and women of the New Haven Police Department keep this city safe,” Mayor Toni Harp said at a press conference outside the NHPD maintenance facility on Friday.

    Thirteen of the new cars arrived two weeks ago, with three more on the way.

    These 16 cars will be assigned to the uniformed patrol division, according to Hartman. They will replace current patrol cars that will be reassigned to less demanding tasks such as administrative and detective work.

    “They’re a very ugly, dirty environment to work in. For a patrol officer, that’s their office,” he said, adding that with the new cars, “Morale should definitely improve, and we have the pledge of the city administration to get more new cars. There’s no reason a police car should be on the road with over 140,000 miles on it.”

    The new cars, now parked in the department’s garage, still need to be outfitted with special features before they become police cruisers. According to Hartman, the customization of these cars — which includes adding electronics, radios, audio components, computers, prisoner dividers and graphics — will be a lengthy process spanning the next few weeks. The additions will be made by the NHPD’s maintenance facility staff, which is also responsible for maintaining the current patrol cars. Hartman noted that the size of the staff has diminished over the past few years.

    The additional cruisers will join a police fleet of 349 vehicles, which includes about 130 patrol, detective, laboratory, forensic, Police Academy as well as traffic and patrol support vehicles, according to a Friday NHPD press release. The department also employs a range of specialized vans, SUVs and trucks, which are assigned to the bomb squad, SWAT, underwater search and recovery, hostage negotiation, canine and command and control field operations.

    For Chief Administrative Officer Mike Carter, the new patrol cars are not only a necessary upgrade, but also reflect careful financial planning by the city. He said the cars are a part of a five-year capital planning process that began last year.

    “The police union identified the need for vehicles to be replaced last year, but the amount of funding at the time was not sufficient,” Carter said.

    Over the course of the year, Harp worked with Interim Police Chief Anthony Campbell to increase the police fleet’s budget from $300,000 to $450,000, Carter said. Once that allocation was approved on July 1, Campbell and Tim Hatch, the NHPD fleet supervisor, placed an order for the new cars in early August.

    “Because we’re in a better financial position than three years ago, we could set aside more money not only for the police, but all departments,” Carter said.

    Carter added that City Hall is hoping to implement a regular replacement plan for the police cruisers, which would entail replacing a certain number of vehicles every three to four years. He said that any repairs would not come out of the police budget, but would rather be covered by the terms of each car’s three-year warranty.

    The new cruisers will be deployed in batches, with the first hitting the streets next Friday. And even more may soon be added. On Thursday, the Board of Alders Finance Committee approved the master lease, which includes a proposal for additional vehicles that could arrive as soon as February. This order would include six police cars, two vehicles for building inspections and a snow truck.

    The proposal will be brought to the full Board of Alders for approval at their upcoming November meeting.

  10. Mayo returns as new NHPS interim superintendent

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    Reginald Mayo will return to New Haven Public Schools as its interim superintendent following Garth Harries’ ’95 resignation last month, Mayor Toni Harp announced at a Monday night Board of Education meeting.

    Mayo, who was named NHPS superintendent in 1992, retired from his position in 2013 after a 46-year career in the school district. Chair of the interim superintendent search committee Darnell Goldson, also a BOE member, said the committee received applications from five candidates and conducted interviews with all candidates on Oct. 17. The position was offered to Mayo on Oct. 19 and the committee discussed the terms of his contract prior to Monday’s meeting.

    To a room of over 50 attendees and nine BOE members, Harp announced the terms of Mayo’s contract — a salary of $130,500 for 174 days in office, starting Nov. 2. The BOE voted unanimously to approve the contract.

    “When I came [in as superintendent] there was work to do, and when I left there was work to do,” Mayo said. “Just got to keep working at it and not give up.”

    Mayo said some of the items at the top of his agenda in 1992 — including closing the district’s achievement gap and hiring quality teachers — remain issues in New Haven today.

    He thanked Harries for his work and highlighted Harries’ achievements during his term as superintendent, including securing a $54 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for NHPS in 2012 and decreasing the district’s dropout rate.

    “[It] seemed like he never went home,” Mayo said, joking that the only thing he could not get Harries to do was “shine his shoes.”

    Harries came to NHPS from New York in 2009 to design the school-reform program School Change Initiative, and served as assistant superintendent under Mayo until Harries was appointed superintendent following Mayo’s retirement in 2013.

    At the meeting, Harries emphasized that a smooth transition was important to him and said he is “standing poised” to support that transition in whatever way he can. He thanked the school board and district, and said NHPS has a strong foundation upon which it must continue to grow.

    “[Harries] came in with a reputation as a guy who wanted to do things his way,” Mayo said. “He’s leaving the same way he came in.”

    Coral Ortiz, one of the BOE’s two student representatives, thanked Harries for his service on behalf of the students of New Haven. She said Harries clearly cares about New Haven’s students, and added that he handles himself well in the face of opposition and criticism. Ortiz, a current senior at James Hillhouse High School, also followed up on a request she made on Oct. 11 for a letter to be sent out to NHPS families informing them about the district’s progress in finding a new superintendent.

    The application for interim superintendent called for at least 10 years of senior leadership at a school and gave preference to candidates with strong working knowledge of Common Core standards and special education. Additionally, per the requirements on the application, Mayo will not be eligible to apply for the permanent position — the BOE passed a ruling encouraging the interim superintendent to focus his energy on the district, rather than in his candidacy for permanent superintendent.

    The interim superintendent will serve for four to six months until the BOE appoints a permanent superintendent.

  11. NHPD in process of adopting body cams

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    Joining their counterparts at the East Haven and Hamden precincts, officers in the New Haven Police Department could be patrolling the city with body cameras next year.

    New Haven is currently applying for a state grant that would provide $500.000 in funds for body cams on all members of the police force, which numbers over 450. This development comes after a 90-day pilot program last fall, during which 27 police officers equipped themselves with body cams for a 90-day pilot program. If the grant goes through, the NHPD could have the cameras by spring of 2017, said Chief Anthony Campbell in a recent statement.

    Still, NHPD Media Liaison David Hartman said, these plans are in their infancy, and the department has established no formal protocol regarding the camera’s usage.

    “There are [no body cameras yet] purchased nor has there been a policy implemented on their use,” Hartman said.

    The move by the New Haven department runs parallel to a recent nation and statewide effort to introduce police cameras. Last May, President Barack Obama and the United States Department of Justice launched the Body-Worn Camera Pilot Implementation Program, which allocated New Haven $90,000 of a $20 million national grant to implement such technology.

    Nearby, the East Haven Police Department first began using body cams two years ago, and now uses 53. According to Lt. Joseph Murgo, the EHPD’s public information officer, officers are recommended to use them on routine calls and investigations. And during motor vehicle stops and calls leading to a possibility of arrest, officers must switch their cameras on.

    “The overall sentiment is that the body cameras are a god send and we can’t believe we didn’t adopt the technology sooner,” Murgo said. “It has helped us in our investigations, and it has helped mitigate complaints. It also ensures both officer and civilians’ behavior is documented in an unbiased way.”

    Footage from the cameras, which can be accessed with a Freedom of Information request, has been used in court disputes by both police and civilians. The footage also assists officers in providing an accurate police report and helps supervisors monitor the force’s behavior.

    Still, members of the department were hesitant when first adopting body cameras, though officials as a whole now embrace them. Several local police departments have also already put body cameras in place or are in the process of acquiring them, such as in New Haven.

    “Body cameras will be the norm in every police department in the next five to 10 years and soon we won’t know life without them,” Murgo said. “Once officers realize there are way more pros than cons, they will accept them.”

    But according to a statement in August by the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, only 12 of the over 100 law enforcement agencies in the state have applied for a state grant to pay for body cameras, suggesting that many departments are not yet ready for the change.

    Nationwide, nearly 95 percent of major police departments plan to implement body cams in the near future, according to a survey conducted January by the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association and Major County Sheriffs’ Association.

    The Hamden and East Haven police departments use the Taser brand of body cameras.