Q Ave Residents Ask For More “Redo”

by Thomas MacMillan | March 24, 2009 11:12 AM | | Comments (28)

032309_034.jpgThe shoddy state of Quinnipiac Avenue is taking a toll on condo developer Fereshteh Bekhrad. Her potential tenants are walking away, telling her, “Your units are beautiful, but the street stinks.”

Bekhrad (pictured) was one of dozens of local residents who turned out to hear an update from city officials on the status of the Quinnipiac Avenue “re-do.” The road, along the east bank of the Quinnipiac River in Fair Haven, is on the brink of a makeover that has been nearly a decade in the making. Phase one of the project might begin as soon as this fall. It will focus on a stretch of Quinnipiac Avenue between Clifton and Ferry Streets.

Bekhrad’s properties will not benefit from the project, which ends just south of her condos. She was one of several at the meeting who called for more repaving of Quinnipiac Avenue, north and south of the stretch slated for overhaul.

The city’s plan features a number of traffic calming measures — including a roundabout, chicanes, and bumpouts — designed to discourage cars from flooring it on the straightaway. The project also includes reconstruction of the retaining wall and sidewalks along the avenue.

At the Monday evening meeting at the Pilgrim Church on East Grand Avenue, Mayor John DeStefano told neighbors that the funding for Phase One is now in place, thanks to the recently passed federal stimulus package. The first phase will cost $7 million, which will be funneled through the South Central Connecticut Regional Council of Governments (COG). The bidding process will begin in August, if not sooner. Construction will begin in the fall or spring. See a previous story on the project’s phases here.

032309_011.jpgDick Miller, the city’s head engineer, unveiled plans for construction detours. The detour route won’t be a change for Garrett Difazio, who lives on Qunnipiac Avenue. He said he’s been detouring already, going to Route 80 by way of Grand Avenue in an effort to avoid the potholes that are shaking his truck apart.

The $7 million for Phase One is still $1.5 million less than the $8.5 million of her own money that Bekhrad has spent developing a number of waterfront condos at 744 to 784 Quinnipiac Ave. — called Harbor Village — just north of Clifton Street.

Dismayed at the state of the avenue, and looking for a public partner for her private investment, Bekhrad went right to the top with a recent request to fix her road. Last month she sent President Obama a letter, asking for his cooperation and financial support on her project. She copied the letter to Mayor DeStefano.

Bekhrad hasn’t heard from Obama, who has been distracted by other pressing matters. So Behrad, wearing a floor-length fur coat and several gold necklaces, put her request to the mayor at Monday night’s meeting.

“Is there any other phase beyond this?” she asked. Bekhrad told the mayor that she’d like to see work done on the north section of Quinnipiac Avenue.

“We haven’t begun to think about the rest of the road,” the mayor replied.

“So it could be at least another eight to ten years?” Bekhrad asked.

The mayor agreed that yes, it could be as long eight or ten years, but promised to take up the matter. “Between now and whenever we next get together we’ll take a look at areas north and south of Phase One and Two,” he said.

Phase Two of the Quinnipiac Avenue project is a small section south of Ferry Street, to Judith Terrace.

Ian Christmann, who lives at 475 Quinnipiac Ave. in the middle of the Phase One section, said that paving the north end is more of a priority than attending to the south end. He told the mayor that the north part just needs a resurfacing, “not even a total redo.”

032309_020.jpg“Just pave it!” Ed Schwartz said under his breath. Schwartz (pictured) lives on the north end of Quinnipiac Avenue. He had been complaining about the state of his street before the meeting, saying that it “looks like a dump” and that he was pretty sure that he saw a Smart Car lodged in one of the potholes.

“We’ll take a look at it,” the mayor promised, writing himself a reminder to follow up on the repaving of the north end.

After the meeting Bekhrad said that there are big problems with water damage to Quinnipiac Avenue near her condos. The asphalt is broken, and there are streams going into the street, she said.

“It’s very difficult to attract people,” Bekhrad said. She’s trying to fill seven of her $800,000 condos. “People came today, they said, ‘Your units are beautiful, but the street stinks,’” Bekhrad said. She didn’t close the deal with the prospective tenants.

Bekhrad said she is going to keep trying to prod the city into action.

“We’re making progress,” Miller said after the meeting. “I recognize those are things we need to do.”

“There a tremendous amount of investment with properties up there,” Christmann said, referring to Bekhrad’s Harbor Village. “But the infrastructure is almost completely the opposite. It’s a mess… Those properties could be an asset.”

Christmann was encouraged by the meeting, and looks forward to a transformation of his street. “We have one of the most walkable areas in town,” he said, describing a local riverside walking route. “But we’re stuck with a stretch of Quinnipiac Avenue that is treacherous — four wheel drive treacherous.”

“I’m already detouring,” said Garrett Difazio, Christmann’s neighbor at 490 Quinnipiac Ave. Difazio said that his old four wheel drive truck was no match for the bumps on Quinnipiac Avenue. He gets to Route 80 via Grand Avenue.

032309_029.jpgThe meeting ended with a gift to the mayor. Christmann (at right in photo) presented Mayor DeStefano with a a pair of commemorative desk ornaments in the shape of road signs, one of which says “Q Ave Redo.”

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Posted by: anon | March 24, 2009 12:14 PM

"People came today, they said, 'Your units are beautiful, but the street stinks."

Funny enough, that's what virtually everyone who visits New Haven says. Beautiful architecture, great town, incredible diversity, better culture and food than any other mid sized city in the United States -- but you may get yourself killed trying to cross State, Trumbull, Whalley, or Howard.

Once we have better street design, New Haven's real estate values will double, obesity will decline (currently, over 50% of New Haven children and adults, are obese or overweight, with higher obesity in inner-city neighborhoods where people do not feel comfortable walking, bicycling or playing on their streets), people will be much healthier, maternal stress (which is linked to every other social problem in the U.S.) will be reduced, and people will save enormous amounts of money not having to drive down the street every time they want to buy a banana.

The Mayor, Chris Donovan and other do-gooder liberals all need to take the lead of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation -- who is a Republican -- and commit far more substantial resources to the creation of livable communities within the state: http://fastlane.dot.gov/2009/03/livable-communities-the-hometowns-americans-deserve.html. A small investment in this area will have huge returns for Connecticut.

Just paving a bit of Quinnipiac Avenue, and resurfacing two or three other streets a year, simply doesn't cut it for New Haven. Especially when it seems that for every sidewalk that New Haven is able to scrounge up a few pennies to rebuild, ConnDOT either widens Route 34 by another 20 feet, builds another billion dollar section of I-95 in order to increase our local asthma rates (which are already 3x the state level), or builds yet another a massive, $30 million new parking garage linked by overhead pedestrian bridges to SCSU.

These residents should be out protesting in force as their communities are destroyed from the pavement up. A roundabout is a nice start, but it's nowhere near enough to address the problem.

Every year, New Haven falls farther and farther behind more livable communities like Seattle, Greenwich, Cambridge, Boulder, and Portland, and anywhere in Europe, all of which have extensive traffic calming programs and more far progressive road design. This not only means a loss of jobs, taxes, people, and revenue -- it represents the epic, ongoing destruction of New Haven residents' health.

Posted by: lance | March 24, 2009 12:40 PM

you'd have to be crazy to plop down that kind of coin. what would the property taxes be? And or what? to support the rest of Fair Haven?

She looks like a cool woman though. Hopeully the liousine liberals will put their money where their mouth is and take a few off her hands.

Posted by: DingDong | March 24, 2009 1:19 PM

That story on the Obama and NCAA is from last year.

Posted by: Along the Q | March 24, 2009 1:22 PM

I thought this piece was suppose to be about the Q-Ave re-do, not Ms. Bekhrad's inability to sell condos...

Posted by: ParkStTaxPayer [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2009 1:29 PM

Anon, well put.

I have lived in New Haven for 4+ years and have enjoyed the walkable Downtown, the bikeable East Rock (you can FORGET about using Downtown streets to GET to East Rock; Trumbull, Prospect, College Streets are pothole minefields on a bicycle!), and the farmers market in Wooster Square.

Having grown up in a suburb of Hartford, I do miss SEEING THE NIGHT SKY, CLEAN AIR, the absence of OBNOXIOUS 'bursts' of SIRENS at intersections at 2am (when no one is on the street), being able to cross a street WITH THE LIGHT WITHOUT RUNNING, etc.

I'm considering moving to a suburb of New Haven because the quality of life is so much higher (and a bit cheaper too) in the 'burbs. I'm saving money for an electric car from Zapworld.com (they're already in production) so I don't have to feel guilty about the extra driving. And I'm going to participate in the CT Solar Lease program, so I can have solar panels on my house with NO upfront cost, so I can charge my car!

In New Haven, the potholes, the whining about entitlements, and the nighttime light pollution is driving me away. I can't remember the last time I saw the starry sky; imagine a whole COMMUNITY in New Haven who don't look up at night in wonder, or who haven't been to a state park and seen NATURE?

The air I'm breathing as a resident of New Haven is unhealthy. There aren't enough trees in our neighborhoods or in the harbor, filtering our air. I have to remind myself, a jaw-clencher, to keep my mouth open a bit while I'm driving, so I don't chip a tooth when driving through the many MILLIONS of potholes in the city.

I'm patient, I try to encourage change, and I certainly keep advertisements off the electric poles outside my apartment (quality of life issue)... but I'm growing tired of begging for new roads, for less "area lighting" and more "targeted lighting" and for people to pick up trash instead of contributing to the problem.

I look forward to the discussion that follows. I still live here, still pay taxes, and still believe in the Elm City.

Posted by: lance | March 24, 2009 1:31 PM

destano is eyeballing that ornament like he knows just the place for it.

Posted by: anon | March 24, 2009 1:32 PM

How would they go to a state park and see NATURE, ParkStTaxPayer, when one of the largest state parks (West Rock) is in such poor shape and half-closed, even though it is right in the center of New Haven?

Posted by: Hysterical Heather | March 24, 2009 1:43 PM


There are so many of us with you. Sometimes I wonder myself what keeps us here, given the huge barriers the City puts up regarding quality of life issues. I too enjoy the starry night (when I can see it!), wonder why why some 3rd world countries I have been to have better infrastructure, and well, don't get me started on those pathetic cretins who litter.

Why we stay is the community of people that you cannot find in the 'burbs. Maybe all of this strife brings us together? Don't know, but I look forward to a time when the City goes beyond "listening" to actually doing something effective so we don't have to fight so bloody hard for the simplest things the people in the 'burbs take for granted. I'm not going to wait forever, but for now I hope the City will start being progressive, stop giving us the same tired excuses, and create a City the residents have envisioned for years. Without those of us who remain in the fight for the Elm City, it stands no chance.

Posted by: JackNH | March 24, 2009 1:46 PM

Bekhrad needs to be commended and encouraged. I live on the Q River and pay incredible property taxes. The least the city can do is give us a halfway respectable street. Q Avenue sidewalks, where they exist, are dangerous to walk on. Traffic, as noted by many, is out of control.

Posted by: norton street | March 24, 2009 1:47 PM

ParksTaxPayer, cars require parking garages and surface parking, which is way worse than the pollution aspect. Look at how much parking is devoted to downtown, there could be inhabitable space there but instead its concrete crap.

suburban life is unsustainable and requires an enormous amount of resources just to keep existing everyday. suburban life also encourages out-of-scale living when compared to previous human living.

anon, great points. its incredible how so many people cant see the connection between automobile infrastructure(worship) and the problems in society.

Posted by: anon | March 24, 2009 2:13 PM

I agree, Norton Street. Have you seen "Its a Wonderful Block" http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/realestate/keymagazine/105newhaven-t.html ?

Posted by: Beansie's Mom | March 24, 2009 2:28 PM

Nice article, Tom. Thanks for reporting.

Posted by: Queen | March 24, 2009 3:15 PM

Hello?!!?! I believe someone forgot to mention the rodent infestation on the north end of Quinnipiac Ave by Farren Avenue. The skunks are huge and the racoons have their dinner right on top of the garbage cans. My poor dog was almost sprayed twice by a skunk...could've been two different skunk, I don't know...I didn't bother to ask for ID!!!

It's getting really bad up there! Good luck with all your phases.

Posted by: fedupwithliberals | March 24, 2009 4:09 PM

You want to get Quinnipiac Avenue repaved? Elect an alderman who lives on the street. Have him agree with every pet project that the mayor talks about, especially ones that deal with illegals. You'll get new asphalt quicker than you can say "Roland LeMar"!

Posted by: Bozo | March 24, 2009 7:29 PM

How can repaving half a mile of road cost seven million dollars. Yes $7,000,000. It makes $150,000 for Tweed and $1,000,000 bonuses for AIG executives look like bargains. Does the city's head engineer get a bonus for this or is it the Leona Helmsley look alike effect.

Posted by: Chris O | March 24, 2009 7:33 PM

For eight years we have been planning and lobbying- Just when we think the end is near the goal post is moved - for a good reason. I seemed to hear everyone including city staff say the rest of Q ave needs fixing. We are patient, persistent, and appreciative when the work is completed. Lets get a plan so we get on with enjoying the fruits of our collaboration with the CITY. BTW- I think Roland moved to his digs after the work was approved and construction almost complete.

Posted by: Politico | March 24, 2009 8:52 PM

We've been snowed. The bidding process will begin in August with construction begining in the fall or spring, states the story. Thats after the elections. Johnny boy will then have another two years to give us nothing but promises. Go up to Westville where he lives and there are sidewalks and roads with no potholes. Good of him to even come to Fairhaven. We must be honored.

Posted by: DwightBlight | March 24, 2009 9:57 PM

Wow - that was pretty gutsy to wear a dead animal hide to a public meeting in this liberal town, Ms. Bekhrad.
I can't imagine who's gonna plop down almost a mil to live in such a dangerous area. For that kind of money you could have a place on the water in Branford, or a big ol' crib with a pool in North Haven.

Posted by: Battlescarred | March 24, 2009 10:04 PM

Hey Yo Fairhaven Heights Turkeys. Its Payback time. If yo think Quinnipiac avenue is ever goin get a redo yo must be loonies. Ya lonnies. The meaning being LOONATICS.

A certin man, yo state senator had the temerity to run against MISTER DESTEFANO ten years back. He Lost. Yo now losin.

Ha Ha. Yo come down an live in Fairhaven Yo know yo get nothin. NOTHIN. NoTHIn. NOTHIN.

Posted by: l | March 24, 2009 11:11 PM

I commend Freshteh and the mayor and the DOT and Piscatelli on their work on this project and on our neighborhood, which is NOT just a $7M repave, but much more. It is a fantastic step in the right direction. The next steps are the South end of Q Ave getting repaved, more homeowners and developers coming in to rehab great old houses, more small business owners, like Grand Vin, Martin's, and Bare Beans Coffee, the one that didn't make it. I believe we will prove the haters wrong. Signed, In The Loony Bin

Posted by: Anon | March 25, 2009 5:01 PM

Battlescarred...not only did reading your post waste my life, your blatant misspellings made me cringe. You are part of a small minority that do not believe in the possibility of improving a historic community with plenty of potential. And next time you drive down my street at 100 mph please turn down your music and put a muffler on your car. Quinnipiac is making a comeback, and it is because of people like me and the rest of a concerned group of citizens that will make happen.

Posted by: M | March 25, 2009 5:05 PM

Property taxes doubling in two years: $8,000, high car tax: $950.00, living on a street full of potholes, broken sidewalks and crack dealers....priceless.

Posted by: Worried in Westville | March 25, 2009 9:08 PM

This is not the first story on this site in recent weeks where the reporter has commented on Mayor DeStefano having to write things down to remember them. I am thinking he has lost it. This is a big worry as a leader who is not in control is doomed. I am worried about the very high property taxes I pay. I can only just afford them. Is it not time for a younger and more dynamic mayor. I do not know how old DeStefano is but I would guess about sixty. If his mind is going we are all going to suffer badly.

Posted by: Politico | March 25, 2009 10:58 PM

Fate led me to drive along Quinnipiac Avenue from end to end today. I was desperate for a Taco Bell at Foxon Bvd and I95 / I91 was a parking lot. Some comments on the comments and propoganda.

I dont think Missus Bekharad looks in the least bit like Leona Helmsley. I think shes very cute looking. That doesnt mean she doesnt have the same mean as pregnant rattlesnake ptrsonality that lady had. I dont know as I never met her. She is right that the part of Q Avenue north of Grand Avenue is worse than the length thats getting the a 7 million redo. She must be completely stupid writing to Obama. If she wants something done shes got to learn the only way in NH is to contribute to the Mayors reelection campaign. If she can lay down 8 million for some slums on Q Ave she can hand out big time. I want to know if she got the junk stuff Schiavone was never able to pan handle on to the rich and famous of New Haven.

The real pity is the part of Q Avenue thats south of Ferry Street. Really pot holed and a hazard to cars and pedestrians alike. Minorities live there so why bother doing anything for them. They got ID cards so let them suffer.

The part of Q Ave between Ferry Street and Grand Ave looks to be in good condition. Not many cracks and potholes. Why is it getting done first. Who lives there. How much have they paid to Johnny Boys campaigns. I just hope to God someone in Washington keeps a lookout for New Haven to see the money gets spent rightly. Looks to me like the DeStefano administration is feeding it to his supporters so they can get rich quick when their property values go up. Looks like your poster ANON is one of these. A reaaly racist post.

Look at poster L. Who is Freshteh. Why does DOT need congratulations. What are they doing.

You want to see a real bad road. Look at Saltonstall or Blatchley and all in Fairhaven. Do they get repaired. No. I just hope to God the Obama administration looks at this web site and cleans up New Haven. Spend money on the working stiffs that do things and pay taxes. What do our bank execs do to earn their 4 million. Not much but rip you and me off. Our Mayor is one of them.

Posted by: robn | March 26, 2009 12:57 PM


Before you insinuate that Roland LeMar has special pull with city hall or that East Rock residents are coddled, take a drive down Whitney Ave. It will jostle you into the reality that the huge amount of taxes generated there aren't necessarily spent there.

BTW, maybe East Rock appears well taken care of because property owners take care of their property.

Posted by: Come on | March 26, 2009 3:02 PM

Robn -

Whitney Ave? You mean the road that is getting completly repaved in a month? You have to be kidding - Lemar has the dirt on someone in City Hall and it is clear as day that they are paying him off for something that he knows. East Rock, Ward 9 in particular gets way more than its fair share! Ask Justin Elicker and Ben Berkowitz how great it is to have Lemar pull all the strings in City Hall and the media to make sure you are given what you want.

Posted by: Charlie O'Keefe | March 26, 2009 8:25 PM

I dislike the bad attitude of POLITICOS posting but I have to agree with him. The north and south ends of Quinnipiac Avenue are much more potholed than the area getting the redo. The mayor must be handing out that much pork for a very big favor here.

Posted by: KT | March 26, 2009 11:30 PM

The section of Q Ave between Ferry Street and Grand Ave is currently a raceway, resulting in a lot of destroyed property and most sadly the lost of lives. There is a total lack of sidewalk on about 1/2 mile on the West side of the street. Also most of the delays in contruction have been about aquiring the right of ways to certain properties. Those have been aquired most certainly on that central portion of Q Ave and perhaps not on those other sections. There are definite legality issues with the rights and money needed concerning the properties South of Ferry St due to the pipelines and Buckeye Oil. I'm pretty sure it's not a racial issue considering there are minorities living all up and down Q Ave. These are items that have been covered in the many community meetings. So if some of the above posters are so concerned about these issues, then maybe they should come to one of these meetings and voice those concerns.

And most people that I know who live on Q Ave are hard working, tax paying citizens who have worked their keesters off to get this project moving. Not the types to be lining any political pockets - POLITICO. And if President Obama is reading this website or is reading Ms. Bekharad's letter about her poor condos, then he's got way too much time on his hands and should get back to governing the country.

And -BATTLESCARRED- you are a sad, angry person. I feel sorry for you. I hope you find peace in your life.

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