Claudette Robinson-Thorpe said “no” five times—and plans to fix bridges across town, clear out potential new Newhallville park land, and position New Haven for state development money have been delayed as a result.
Robinson-Thorpe (pictured), a Beaver Hills alder, cast those five no votes at Tuesday night’s Board of Alders meeting at City Hall. She cast those lone votes to deny “unanimous consent” singlehandedly to five proposals that otherwise would have received approval—except for one proposal, which will come up at a hastily-arranged “emergency” meeting for Thursday evening to meet a legal deadline.
Now these projects are on hold until at least the next board meeting later this month.
Robinson-Thorpe offered no reason for the five denials at either a public caucus before the meeting or at the meeting itself. She left the aldermanic chambers immediately following the meeting and failed to return subsequent calls seeking comment. She has been at odds with the board majority since failing to win a leadership position in January.
Two proposals would authorize Mayor Toni Harp to sign agreements with the state Department of Transportation to initiate work on the Crown and George Street bridges over the tunnel that runs below Church Street. Another would allow for the use of federal money to fix the Wilmot Road Bridge over Wintergreen Brook.
At the caucus before the full board meeting Tuesday night, Board of Alders President Jorge Perez expressed concern that the city would close the bridges for an extended period of time instead of beginning construction immediately after board approval. “We want assurances that if the bridge is closed, they will start work right away,” he said. City aldermanic liaison Joseph Rodriguez offered the assurance.
Also among the set of delayed proposals was a resolution to extend the City and Town Development Act, which allows the city to apply for state funding for development projects. Connecticut is generally restrictive on enabling legislation for development, said Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson (pictured). The act allows cities to “attract developers by not needing to go to the state” for basic legislation.
“It would be both embarrassing and damaging if we didn’t have this set of options,” he said.
The resolution would require a referendum to pass to the Board of Alders and ultimately appear on the November ballot.
Update: The city faces a Sept. 4 approval deadline to put the matter on the November ballot. So the board has called an emergency meeting for 6:30 Thursday night.
Newhallville and Hamden neighbors will now have to wait at least two weeks for the city to accept federal help on clearing land for a new park at the edge of Beaver Pond Park by Cherry Ann Street. Neighbors (pictured) petitioned to turn an overgrown piece of land into a safe space for the neighborhood’s children, who otherwise play on the street. (Read about that here.)
City parks director Rebecca Bombero said the department is working with the community to prioritize the next steps. By the end of the fall, they hope to finish clearing the area and start work on a circular pathway.
The department already has $170,000 allocated to the park.
posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 3, 2014 2:59pm
I have a question WHO would be doing the bridge work?? Same people that are doing the state street bridge??? what was it suppose to cost? 5 mill? and now at 25 Mill…and 5 years later it is still CLOSED!!!!!! And I am sure they promised the moon and the stars….this disaster should be a guideline before any other bridge projects are ever taken on.
posted by: webblog on September 3, 2014 3:28pm
I see no problem with Claudette Robinson-Thorpe’s denial of unanimous consent for any of these projects, denial of UC is any alder’s prerogative without reason. Particularly,the resolution to extend the City and Town Development Act, which allows the city to apply for state funding for development projects. This resolution would require a referendum to pass to the Board of Alders and ultimately appear on the November ballot.
Acts which need to be compliant with the state of CT law and finally presented to the voters for approval need to be fully vetted before the public. To do otherwise extends the dangerous precedent of gaining approval without knowing all the facts.
But fear not this B.O.Rubber Stampers will come back in two weeks and do just that!
posted by: Esbey on September 3, 2014 4:23pm
Claudette Robinson-Thorpe can’t even be bothered to explain her votes, which directly hurt multiple parts of the city. The implication in the story is that this political payback by a disgruntled alder; if that is not true then it would have been good to stick around and explain what she is up to, or at least have the courtesy to return a call to a reporter seeking comment.
@Cedarhillresident—isn’t the notorious State Street bridge project run by the state, not the city? I note that the East Rock Road bridge looks almost set to open; I think that is a city project, so perhaps there is hope.
posted by: wendy1 on September 3, 2014 4:33pm
No No Claudette.
Good for her. There are so many political mistakes flying around here already. And really the Beaver Hill folks could clean up part of their own park like we do in my neighborhood.
Why is it the city does NOT use LOCAL minority owned builders and contractors…for anything. I cant wait for the next elections. Sundiata will be running.
posted by: TheMadcap on September 3, 2014 8:12pm
“Why is it the city does NOT use LOCAL minority owned builders and contractors”
Because I’m pretty sure it violates state law just like the city can’t require X amount of employees to live in the city. And this is ridiculous, this is a childish fit. If she was holding up things that actually mattered to have more debate on them it’d be a good thing, instead she is for example holding up federal dollars coming in to help turn an overgrown lot in one of the most dilapidated parts of New Haven/Hamden into a park. Thumbs up yo.
posted by: robn on September 3, 2014 10:22pm
Regarding the “City and Town Development Act”, are we seriously going to support this crony BOA which is pursuing some sort of emergency empowering legislation that we know NOTHING about. Seriously?
posted by: Keldo on September 4, 2014 9:19am
What a selfish and childish move by Robinson-Thorpe. I wonder when Toni will “reward” her with a city job so she stops these immature antics? Despicable.
posted by: Edward Whalley HCJ on September 4, 2014 5:09pm
The City Town Development Act is an immensely valuable tool for promoting development in the city. Allowing it to lapse would be a serious loss. It’s not used often, but it has been used in development projects on including Starter, Hill Health Center, Hill Center Court, and Science Park.
The Act has been passed by the BoA and voted through in referendum every five years since 1976 without controversy. City voters shouldn’t start cutting off their noses to spite the BoA.
The BoA should pass it tonight in special session and the voters should approve it in November.
I’ve pasted the link to the 2009 renewal discussion, as well as the link to the full text of the enabling statute. The links to the resolution text and the Mayor’s letter to the BOA are useful in understanding the Act.