Amid dire warnings and readings from scripture, city lawmakers voted in favor of selling sections of High and Wall streets to Yale University for $3 million, forever. One more needed approval awaits.
The vote came at a City Hall meeting Thursday night of the “Committee of the Whole,” comprising 24 of the Board of Aldermen’s 30 members. The group convened to consider a proposal made by the city to sell High Street between Elm and Grove streets and Wall Street between College and York streets to Yale for $3 million.
In an 17 to 7 vote, aldermen approved selling Yale the streets once and for all following an original 1990 deal that temporarily handed over control.
Supporters of the deal said the streets are already practically part of Yale and could be reclaimed by eminent domain if necessary in the future. Opponents argued that forever is a really long time and that the city has no guarantee that Yale will continue voluntary payments or keep the streets open to the public.
The matter now heads to the full Board of Aldermen for a final vote. The same outcome can be expected there, since the special Committee of the Whole includes all members of the Board of Aldermen. (Five aldermen didn’t show up to Thursday’s meeting; that’s not enough to change the result.)
The vote followed a couple hours of testimony and debate Thursday, and a couple years of contentious consideration of the fate of High and Wall.
Yale has closed and controlled the streets for more than two decades, since a 1990 agreement (struck during a previous city fiscal crisis) that laid the foundation for a new era of financial contributions from the university to the city.
Two years ago, when it came time for a required 20-year review of the deal, some aldermen saw it as a chance to renegotiate the deal with Yale. The conversation hit an impasse; discussions moved behind closed doors until the emergence of the current proposal to sell the streets outright.
The question of High and Wall is one that gets at the heart of town/gown relations in the city. Yale is the city’s biggest employer and its biggest single property owner but it doesn’t pay taxes on much of its property since it’s tax-exempt as an educational institution. The fates of the city and the university are intertwined in a relationship that can veer between collaboration and resentment. Both sentiments were on display during debate Thursday night in City Hall’s Aldermanic Chamber.
The committee also voted to recommend the sale of 182 square feet on Broadway to Yale for $8,190. The area is a slice of the sidewalk just in front of the Yale bookstore, where the university plans to put in a building addition and a sign to signal the beginning of the “Broadway shopping district” and increase foot traffic in the area.
“Once And For All”
The evening began with a presentation of the proposal by Matt Smith, the administration’s liaison to the Board of Aldermen. He handed out a sheet detailing the voluntary payments that Yale has made to the city since the 1990 agreement.
From 1991 to 2004, Yale made increasing annual payments for fire service of between $1.2 and 2.2 million. In 2005 Yale started making additional voluntary payments of between $4.3 and 5.5 million each year. Also as part of the deal, the city in 1994 began to collect property tax on the Yale golf course. All told, the city has collected over $86 million from Yale since 1991.
Projecting into the future, Smith said Yale is expected to give the city $216 million more by 2030 as fire service and voluntary payments increase with inflation and university expansion.
Under the proposed deal, the city would abandon the streets. Ownership would then revert to the only abutter: Yale University. “In exchange, Yale is offering a one-time payment of $3 million,” Smith said. That figure is based on an assessment by an appraiser agreed upon by the city and Yale. The appraiser calculated the property is worth about $45 per square foot.
Yale spokesman Michael Morand (pictured), who was an aldermen when the 1990 agreement was struck, said that Yale’s contributions to the city have exceeded anyone’s wildest dreams from 20 years ago. He mentioned Yale’s homebuyer program, its contribution to the college scholarship program New Haven Promise, and its funding of events like the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.
While the 1990 agreement included a condition that the deal be revisited in 20 years, that was only to ensure that the street closures weren’t having an adverse impact on traffic, Morand said. The 1990 deal was not a lease, he argued.
“What’s before you tonight is a simple matter to put this to bed once and for all,” Morand said.
In response to questions by East Rock Alderman (and mayoral candidate) Justin Elicker, Smith said the proposed deal would not prevent Yale from ceasing its voluntary payments, building on the property, or even putting up gates to keep people off of the streets.
Elicker asked about creating an easement to ensure that the public always has access to the streets.
“Any appraiser would say you’ve diminished the value” of the property if it comes with easements, Morand said.
Newhallville Alderwoman Delphine Clyburn asked for a written agreement that Yale will continue its voluntary payments “for the protection of the people.”
“I think that’s a little difficult,” said Smith. “What’s before you is probably the fairest agreement we could come to between the interested parties.”
Fair Haven Heights Alderwoman Brenda Jones-Barnes sought to clarify that Yale would not have to guarantee public access.
“That is exactly what we’re giving up,” said city lawyer John Ward. “We’re losing it and Yale is gaining it.”
“Losing” is not the right word, Morand claimed. “It’s a financial transaction.”
A Word From Isaiah
Gregory Williams, a Yale Divinity School student, was the first member of the public to testify. He had been holding signs in the gallery along with several others. He read from Isaiah 5:8. “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.”
He said there is “not a more accurate description of our culpability as a Yale community. … Please do not let Yale control any more land in this city.”
Yale employee Stephen Poland said the university should rent the property from the city.
Yale student Cameron Sandquist, on the other hand, presented an 82-signature petition calling for the city to sell the streets to Yale.
Budget watchdog Ken Joyner said that since the 19th century, Yale has paid no taxes on its exempt properties as its endowment has ballooned. He urged aldermen not to approve the sale.
“I think these streets are priceless,” Alderman Elicker (pictured) said during pre-vote negotiations. He cautioned that the sale would be “for eternity.” Years ago, no one could have imagined that pay phones would become obsolete. Similarly, he asked, “who knows what we’re going to use these streets for” in the future?
“When I came here tonight, I was thinking that this $3 million could help us with our debt,” said Clyburn. But after listening to the testimony and hearing Yale say it couldn’t guarantee people access to the streets, she changed her mind, she said. “I just can’t vote on this because on my insides it’s saying no tonight.”
Hill Alderman Jorge Perez (pictured), the president of the board, argued for the other side. He said the city can take the property back by eminent domain if it decides it needs it.
Elicker later warned that any attempt to take the streets back by eminent domain would be met by an “army” of Yale-hired lawyers, a fiasco that would make the Ricci case look inexpensive by comparison.
“You can’t not move on with progress because you don’t know what the future may bring,” Perez said. “I think we should approve this. Yale has been a good partner.” The university deserves to be treated like any other buyer of city property, he said.
“It’s a street that really is probably useless to us,” said Hill Alderwoman Jackie James (pictured). The average person never goes to Wall or High streets, she said. They’re “actually already a part of Yale. … It’s useless to us collectively as a city.”
Hill Alderwoman Dolores Colon, who works at Yale’s Beinecke library on Wall Street, said concerns about Yale shutting the streets down to the public were unfounded. Yale needs those streets open to allow fire trucks to reach its valuable collections of rare books.
“How much are we really going to miss these streets?” she asked. “The streets are priceless and worthless at the same time.”
Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen (pictured) spoke up against the sale. “Three million dollars doesn’t even cover the lost revenue in parking spaces alone,” he said.
“If you look at this deal, it’s a bad deal,” Elicker said. The deal has no guarantee of public access, no guarantee of continued fire payments. “This is forever and this is forever.”
Lots of sales are forever, Perez countered. The city sold the Martin Luther King school to Achievement First charter school organization forever, he said. This deal is just the same, “the only difference is we have a big corporation some people feel we should get money from,” he said.
It’s not the same, replied Elicker. The street deal is about public access, he said: It’s more comparable to selling off a city park.
Seventeen aldermen voted to approve the sale: Frank Douglass, Sergio Rodriguez, Jeanette Morrison, Michael Smart, Jorge Perez, Mark Stopa, Santiago Berrios-Bones, Brian Wingate, Andrea Jackson Brooks, Al Paolillo, Tyisha Walker, Ernie Santiago, Adam Marchand, Sarah Eidelson, Jackie James, Jessica Holmes, and Dolores Colon.
Seven voted against: Migdalia Castro, Doug Hausladen, Brenda Jones-Barnes, Brenda Foskey-Cyrus, Delphine Clyburn, Justin Elicker, and Angela Russell.
“The average person never goes to Wall or High streets, James said. They’re “actually already a part of Yale. … It’s useless to us collectively as a city.””
What a terribly misinformed statement. Loads of people who are not part of Yale use these streets to navigate the city every day. It’s sad that someone who has never lived in this area or used the streets to get around town is generalizing about their use.
The lost revenue from parking is easily around $40 million over 25 years if you consider that back-in spaces could easily be added along Wall and High.
What a terribly shortsighted decision by the Leadership and lame duck administration.
Thanks to my Alderwoman for not checking with your constituents and voting how the Unions wanted you to vote. Sorry, you’ve been doing that since you got in office.
posted by: Curious on May 24, 2013 11:54am
This is extremely telling, from Yale’s Morand….
*** Elicker asked about creating an easement to ensure that the public always has access to the streets.
“Any appraiser would say you’ve diminished the value” of the property if it comes with easements, Morand said. ***
Why would Yale care about the value of the property being affected by easements unless there was some possibility that they might sell the property to someone else down the line?
If this was really becoming part of Yale, then why care if the value goes down?
posted by: East Rocker on May 24, 2013 12:31pm
The issue of parking meter revenue that Alderman Hausladen and Anonymous raise should be a key part of the decision here. This entire issue was brought up two year ago as a way to squeeze more money out of Yale and HELP the city’s bottom line. But if this deal ends up LOSING the city money, then why would anyone do it? Let it go. Let things remain as the status quo.
posted by: darnell on May 24, 2013 12:38pm
How can that street possibly be valued at $3 million? Parking meters alone on that street can make that much in 5 years. It is shameful and disappointing he backroom deals that are being made to screw the taxpayers, the actual owners of the streets. Now is the time to see what the candidates for mayor are made of. We already see that Elicker has stones of steel, how about the others. Where they stand on this issue will go a long way in helping me decide who to vote for. NHI, tell us what are the others positions?
posted by: darnell on May 24, 2013 12:41pm
@East Rocker - no one was trying to squeeze money out of Yale. The agreement had expired, we tried to renegotiate the deal, no matter what Yale says, that was the long and short of it.
posted by: anonymous on May 24, 2013 12:45pm
East Rocker -Agree - in addition to the problem with the erroneous traffic “study” (which was completely not transparent to the public), the parking meter figures these Alders are acting on were wrong. 1) they were based on a downtown wide figure, not premium rates for space near Yale. $1.50 per hour when many other US cities are now charging over $6.00 per hour for premium space near large institutions. 2) They did not consider increased parking efficiency, something that will dramatically change over the coming few years. 100 new spaces could easily be added to this area, making it more integrated with the city fabric and gaining enormous revenue stream, and if speeds were limited to walking speed using , nobody would notice. With smart parking and new car navigation tech, occupancy rates will hit 100%.
We’re talking many tens of millions of dollars given away, for a convenient one time payment of $3M.
posted by: Noteworthy on May 24, 2013 1:02pm
1. The million dollars Yale paid when Morand was on the BOA was a loan shark payment. The city had a deficit that matched the payment. Yale screwed the city.
2. The city is again running a deficit and the $3 million “forever” payment is another loan shark payment. You could not build one block of those streets for $3 million. This is being given the bum’s rush in order to post the money to this year’s deficit which the BOA and the mayor have failed miserably to address all year long.
3. The idea that a public access easement diminishes the value of tens of millions of dollars worth of streets that are being sold for a song is laughable. Either Morand doesn’t understand real estate valuation or he’s playing the ignorance of the BOA.
4. The highest and best deal is for a long term lease of the land to Yale, on a triple net basis. Yale pays all the costs, and makes an annual lease payment for that real estate and the public is allowed access. The city would have gained far more revenue than paltry $3 million.
5. Re George Perez’ suggestion that these streets are the same as selling a dilapidated, unused school - well, I’ll just say I’m almost speechless and what I really think won’t be posted in this newspaper. It’s not comparable by any stretch of the imagination and is a demonstrably false as Morand’s “diminished value” statement.
5. Yale’s overall payments to the city should not be included in any part of this discussion. It is irrelevant. Yale pays what Yale should pay for shared services through its voluntary PILOT; pays what it should for its growing portfolio of money making real estate. That Yale is somehow doing the rest of the taxpayers a favor by paying anything is absurd.
6. Bottom Line: Taxpayers are getting screwed just like they did 20 years ago. The ironic thing is the same people who screwed us then, are back at the table to screw us again.
posted by: TheMadcap on May 24, 2013 1:08pm
The price is too low, and Yale saying they can’t guarantee the streets for public use should be a deal breaker. I’ll give Yale the benefit of doubt and assume they won’t end their voluntary taxes, sorry, contributions.
posted by: Gabe_Winant on May 24, 2013 1:24pm
I’m all for getting what money out of Yale we can, however we can. But it makes sense that sometimes that means making one kind of deal, sometimes another. In this case, the appraiser says $3 million is a fair price, and I trust that more than the judgments of New Haven Independent commenters who think the Board can do no right. The city’s in a budget crunch and has to find a way to make it up. What do you propose they do instead?
It also sets the Board and the city up well to take Yale on when it comes to more crucial issues and disputes, if they’ve shown that they’re reasonable and willing to reach compromise with the city’s most powerful entity. The next time there’s a discussion over university expansion or Yale’s commitment to the city, the Board will be in a better position to be an honest and tough broker.
posted by: lawrence st on May 24, 2013 1:30pm
This was not a clear-cut good or bad decision, and I am happy that so much debate took place, and that so much thought went into people’s votes. In the end, I think the right decision was made, but I see both sides.
posted by: FacChec on May 24, 2013 1:40pm
A Historical problem with the mind set of the leaders of this BOA can be found in their collective statements to justify their rational for approving this proposal.
“You can’t not move on with progress because you don’t know what the future may bring,” Perez said.
This statement is single minded and shows no short or long term vision by Perez in consideration of growth by the city.
Perez’s leadership is strictly reactive. He lacks insight into how this, a forever 3 million dollar one shot deal equates to progress for the city of New Haven.
“It’s a street that really is probably useless to us,” said Hill Alderwoman Jackie James. The average person never goes to Wall or High streets, she said. They’re “actually already a part of Yale. … It’s useless to us collectively as a city.”
Ms James, the President Pro-temp believes that the average person never goes to Wall or High St’s therefore, it’s useless.
Well guess what Ms. James, the average person never goes to about a thousand streets in Ne Haven, but that did not deter the founding fathers from laying out the grid for all streets with the expectation that they would not be used by the “average person” (in quotation).
Hill Alderwoman Dolores Colon, who works at Yale’s Beinecke library on Wall Street, said: “Yale needs those streets open to allow fire trucks to reach its valuable collections of rare books”. I see no need to comment on Ms. Colon justification for approval.
Finally, Perez again:
“Lots of sales are forever, Perez countered. The city sold the Martin Luther King school to Achievement First charter school organization forever, he said. This deal is just the same, Here Perez equates a school being sold to achieve what he believes will produce a closing of the achievement gap, to a sale of a city street with no city achievement, to a major multi-billion corporation and calling it the same.
This is mind
posted by: East Rocker on May 24, 2013 2:11pm
@ Gabe-Winant - While I understand the city needs to fill a deficit, what sense does it make to fill it this year through a sale that will REDUCE revenue (i.e. parking meters) next year (and every year thereafter). Why make next year’s budget worse before it’s even begun?
Second, I don’t think that this deal says anything about the ability of the city and Yale to compromise in a way that will impact future relations. Let’s remember that this was not Yale’s issue. Yale did not come to the city in 2011 looking to buy these streets. This whole issue was raised by the aldermen. This is simply Yale’s attempt to put the issue to bed forever. They were not trying to wrest title of these streets from the city. From what the NHI has reported on this over the last two years, Yale was more than content to let things remain as they are - which at this point looks like the best course of action for the city.
posted by: lawrence st on May 24, 2013 3:32pm
I’m a little confused about the “lost revenue.” This is area that a: new haven is not currently getting any revenue from, and b: (most importantly) would require MAJOR spending in order to turn into a road on which cars can park.
what are they going to do? rip up cross campus and put a road?
The $40 million figure is implausible. The total amount of parking meter receipts in the FY 12-13 budget is $5.5 million, derived from about 2,700 meters or about $2,000/meter/ year. I suspect that revenue per meter on High/Wall streets is fairly normal, with higher than average collections during the school year and lower than average collections during the summer and breaks.
Let’s say you install 100 meters on the affected blocks, the revenues at current rates would be about $5 million over 25 years ($2,000 x 100 x 25). Obviously the meter rate could be increased (and I support dynamic pricing)but you would get nowhere near $40 million.
Second, while there are places such as Chicago (my hometown) that charge $6 or more per hour, they are the exception. The current rate in Manhattan is $3.50/hour (south of 96th Street, north of there it is $1.50 an hour). I very much enjoy living in New Haven, but it is not Manhattan.
posted by: ISR on May 24, 2013 3:46pm
Selling a street forever is like tapping into your principal to make ends meet. Ask any financial advisor, and that’s a basic no-no of wealth mangement. It would be analogous to Yale dipping into its endowment to meet operating expenses.
Let’s face it, the atmospherics of this don’t look good: “Yale buying a street forever.” Look up noblesse oblige in a future dictionary, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this transaction as a usage example. The fact that they wouldn’t agree to an easement only underlines this.
I’ll grant that Yale has a vested interest in the strength and vitality of New Have, but the “voluntary” nature of the its payments demonstrates their essential unaccountability to the people of New Haven—even when their interests overlap in areas such as fire and police, road maintenance, etc. Yale students can learn about this when they read about benevolent despots.
There is also an appearance of a kind of incestuous conflict of interest among some of the players—Alders who work for Yale, today, and a former Alder now being the Yale spokesperson. I guess with Yale’s dominance, it’s hard to escape that, but still, is this any different from DC government officials and legislators going to work for industries they regulate?
And, why rush? Why don’t we wait until after the mayors’s election to see the will of the people?
Personally, I’m making a donation to Elicker’s campaign—one infinitesimally smaller than $3 million.
posted by: elmresident on May 24, 2013 3:50pm
It would certainly be nice to see Yale give more to the City, but as a cyclist and a taxpayer, this actually seems like a pretty good deal to me. Generating revenue from parking meters would obviously require opening the “streets” to cars, which would really be a shame for those of us who bike or walk by the library every day. And considering the City currently receives $0 for the streets, making a deal for $3,000,000 seems like a pretty smart choice.
posted by: anonymous on May 24, 2013 3:55pm
Kevin, how are you sure that the “citywide” figure of $2,000 per year per meter a) will hold for the next 25 years, especially as cars begin to drive and park themselves, and b) that it applies to one of the busiest blocks in the city?
I agree that New Haven “citywide” isn’t Manhattan, but there are sections of New Haven that have a very high density of jobs and activity, one which will grow significantly over time. New Haven is adding many hundreds of new residents per year - all those new people have to park somewhere, but somehow we are giving away the space.
posted by: anonymous on May 24, 2013 3:59pm
“Generating revenue from parking meters would obviously require opening the “streets” to cars, which would really be a shame for those of us who bike or walk by the library every day.”
Technology changes. Limiting the travel speed to 2 miles per hour, and only allowing cars in that have a designated space (through “smart parking,” so there is no through traffic and no circling around the block) is incredibly easy.
New Haven needs to stop making decisions as if we are going to be living in the 1990s forever.
Anonymous, I expect that parking meter rates will increase beyond the level of inflation. But even if real revenue doubles over the current level, you are nowhere near $40 million. Moreover, you would need to deduct the added enforcement staff and other costs they city would incur if it kept ownership of the blocks.
posted by: Eddie on May 24, 2013 4:18pm
There seems to be two issues here: money for the city and the loss of public space.
I don’t see how the city gets that much more money from this deal. The appraisal was independent and agreed upon by both the city and Yale. As it stands it is the only serious appraisal informing this discussion. Parking meters are a non-issue. I don’t believe the back of the envelope calculations (which already vary between those commenting by about $1 million per year). Many who advocate the meters here have also advocated keeping High street closed to automobiles. Finally, who really sees installing parking meters in front of SML as a viable policy option? I’m all for demanding that Yale invests more in this city, but these demands has to come in the form of smart well-organized campaigns.
The loss of public space is minimal. It is very likely that Yale will use this space as it has for the past 20 years. I’m doubtful that this deal will effectively change anything. If Yale places more restrictions on these streets then people will have to walk an additional block, again not a dramatic change. This is not akin to losing a public park to a private entity that subsequently changes its use. In practice it is a less radical change than selling the school to Achievement first.
posted by: bex18 on May 24, 2013 4:37pm
I’m glad to see there’s finally some movement on this. These streets have functionally belonged to Yale for decades, and up till now Yale hasn’t even been paying for them. It seems to me like the choice is not between having the streets open to traffic and selling them to Yale. It’s between the status quo, where the city doesn’t profit at all, and a more financially responsible arrangement whereby the city gets $3M. The latter seems like the win-win.
Also, as a pedestrian and bicyclist who frequents that area, more car traffic around those streets is frankly a public safety hazard. Keep them pedestrian-friendly, and let Yale pay the city for it.
posted by: Anders on May 24, 2013 4:40pm
Two points. 1. When I tried to vote my computer told me I had already voted. How accurate are these straw polls? 2. When Yale get the streets it’s really obvious they’ll put gates up to improve security, and who can blame them. I’d like them to remain open for public access, at least during daylight
posted by: K Harrison on May 24, 2013 4:53pm
I was at the hearing for an hour and a half last night.
1. The city is not getting revenue from the streets now, because it sold/leased/whatever the streets to Yale in 1990. Now we can get $3 million according to an independent appraiser. We can say they should have struck a better deal in 1990, but it’s a little late to really do anything with that.
2. Do we really think that more of downtown should get paved over and turned into parking? I don’t think that’s where good, green urban development is going. I live downtown, and I like being able to walk through the streets as they are.
I would hope that Yale would continue to keep it a space that’s open to the public, though.
posted by: accountability on May 24, 2013 5:32pm
As usual, I find myself wondering if any NHI commenters live in the same city that I do.
We should rename the comments on today’s story “Parking Fantasia.” The city is NOT selling the entirety of Wall and High Streets to Yale, just three blocks that currently generate no parking revenue whatsoever. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Have any of you actually walked these three blocks lately?
Any potential “lost” parking revenue pre-supposes that the city is prepared to:
1. Reclaim control of the streets. 2. tear up the block of High street that currently anchors Cross-campus. 3. Pay for the lawsuit that Yale would bring to try to claim that the 1990 agreement gives them the right to keep these blocks as they are. 4. Install parking meters.
Just read number 2 for a second and think. Are any of you macho NHI jailhouse lawyers prepared to drive the backhoe? With Maya Lin and a dozen of the world’s most famous women artists and hundreds of students laying down in front of you in protest?
That’ll look great on YouTube in the city’s next tourism campaign. “Come visit New Philistine Haven where we deface priceless works of art.” That block of High street is part of campus, and to reopen the “street” means putting parking meters about ten feet from the Women’s Table. Is not and never was gonna happen.
We can puff out our chests all we want, but the reality is that Mayor Daniels ceded these three blocks more than 20 years ago. Don’t pretend we have leverage we don’t have. Yale would probably lose its lawsuit, but the legal fees alone would eat up any “parking revenue” in no time.
As for easements, ROTFLMAO Elicker. You look up “political posturing” in the dictionary and there’s a video of Elicker posing as a rough, tough anti-Yale politician. Please.
How exactly is Yale going to further limit public access? By requiring everyone who goes on to those streets to show ID? Again, not going to happen.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 24, 2013 6:46pm
posted by: Greg-Morehead on May 24, 2013 12:46pm
Thanks to my Alderwoman for not checking with your constituents and voting how the Unions wanted you to vote. Sorry, you’ve been doing that since you got in office.
How about your friends when you was on the BOA who are not union and voted for this.
Seventeen aldermen voted to approve the sale: Frank Douglass, Sergio Rodriguez, Jeanette Morrison, Michael Smart, Jorge Perez, Mark Stopa, Santiago Berrios-Bones, Brian Wingate, Andrea Jackson Brooks, Al Paolillo, Tyisha Walker, Ernie Santiago, Adam Marchand, Sarah Eidelson, Jackie James, and Dolores Colon.
My bad do you not have family that work for yale?
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 24, 2013 8:34pm
I favor a contract, structured in 99 yearly payments, each payment equal to the size of the City’s budget increase for that year..
Finally Yale and the City would be in forced collusion to keep taxes down.
posted by: Clause on May 25, 2013 1:18am
I’m sorry, but NH would be Bridgeport without Yale. Folks need to get real when it comes to the Yale hate.
posted by: SteveOnAnderson on May 25, 2013 8:23am
I made my opinion known at the hearing, but I will re-emphasize a couple of points here. At one point in the hearing, Alderman Elicker stated that Yale’s representatives had given the impression that if the city did not sell the streets Yale would reduce or not make its voluntary payment. That signaled quite clearly Yale’s gangster tactics with the city. Time & time again, Matt Smith and Michael Morand emphasized the overall payments Yale makes to the city. While pushing the city to sell of its land forever, Morand invoked the word “trust” when speaking of the voluntary payment and Yale’s plans for the streets.
But, as Alderwoman Clyburn stated, when it comes to those issues “nothing is written.” Clearly, the voluntary nature of Yale’s financial relationship to the city opens up the door for Yale to wield that payment in a way it would not be able to with a re-negotiable contractual obligation. Yale is smart enough to know the difference and exploit it. Noteworthy’s comment above is absolutely correct: “Yale’s overall payments to the city should not be included in any part of this discussion. It is irrelevant. ... That Yale is somehow doing the rest of the taxpayers a favor by paying anything is absurd.” The point should not be to “get more money out of Yale,” but to make Yale sit down with the city as equals and negotiate a mutually beneficial contract that can be renegotiated in the future.
If Yale had a desirable property, there is no way it would voluntarily abandon it and sell it off for a one-time payment. That would be a laughably awful business strategy. And yet that is exactly what Yale coerced the city into doing here. But, what’s worse, this decision takes away the Right to the City on these streets not only for the present residents of the city, but also for ALL future residents. It is unfortunate that many people who led a march down these very streets shouting “WHO’S STREETS? OUR STREETS!” are now content to say “Who’s streets? Yale’s streets.”
posted by: swatty on May 25, 2013 8:25am
My question would be if there is a way for citizens to overrule this stupid decision on the part of the alders…
I’d like to see a referendum or something to squash this.
posted by: anonymous on May 25, 2013 8:34am
K Harrison: One of the big issues here is that the streets actually need to be made even more pedestrian and cycle friendly. Currently they are okay, especially if you are a young able-bodied person, but far from ideal by any international standard.
But as soon as we cede control in perpetuity, we have no leverage to ever make that happen. Also, Yake may decide to close the area off at night, if, say, a student is shot here.
Once again, the city loses out on the potential economic benefit of having more accessible downtown streets. Maybe we won’t notice a big change now but the long term impact is devastating.
Adding meters has nothing to do with pedestrian accessibility in the long run, because technology is changing to the point where cars within a few years will be be able to drive and park themselves into pre-allocated spaces at one mile per hour if regulated to do so.
posted by: dorothy25 on May 25, 2013 8:44am
Well said accountability. Next I guess anonymous will insist that we all envision a world as it appeared on the Jetson’s. Rather than imagining cars that park themselves into meters charging $6.50/hr, I see the BOA making official something that has been de facto for over 20 years. Although smart parking technology exists, there is no clear market for it here and making policy now based upon something that may be prevalent 20 years from now seems foolish.
I don’t trust that many of the NHI commenters just wouldn’t accuse the BOA of nickel-and-diming Yale if the vote outcome had been different. Specifically, if Elicker would have voted the other way, I’m convinced the first half of this commenting section would look very different. But the BOA is supposed to base policy upon the NHI commenting section? Not when many of its inhabitants’ only position is – oppositional to the majority of the current BOA, no matter what.
posted by: anonymous on May 25, 2013 8:45am
SteveOnAnderson: “It is unfortunate that many people who led a march down these very streets shouting “WHO’S STREETS? OUR STREETS!” are now content to say “Who’s streets? Yale’s streets.”
Exactly. Especially those UNITE HERE-supported candidates who give terribly misinformed statements about the streets and about the implications of permanently giving them away to Yale, as if New Haven is not going to be a dramatically different city 20 or 50 years from now.
posted by: Webblog1 on May 25, 2013 9:08am
The parking meter monetization fiasco of the 2010 budget year was rejected as a $50M 20 year loser.
After this defeat the Mayor said he would not engage in any other other one time revenue deals to reduced his contrived debt.
While this deal is not about parking meters per`se, it is more about the resurrection of destefano’s old habit of one time deals to resolve revenue deficits, this year equaling $4.1M and counting.
The dichotomy here is that while seeking this deal with Yale for $3M in order to reduce the current year deficit, Perez and the Mayor concurrently have cut a deal to raise your taxes by 3.02 mills or $15M.
Don’t worry, it only hurts when you smile!
posted by: HhE on May 25, 2013 10:14am
I am worried that the majority of the NHI Comentariat is missing what I opine is the real lesson here. The city was hard up for some cash (nothing new there) and tried to squeeze Yale. Nothing doing said the University with all the trump cards. We thought we had paid for the use of theses streets twenty years ago, with the opportunity to review if were still a good idea for both parties.
As people comment about “force,” “gangster tactics,” and “leasing” they are losing sight of Yale’s reality. You (New Haven) need the money more than we need this space, we are not going to keep paying and getting played, and you started this. So here is three million, its ours now for keeps, and now we have the option to gate the streets if we wish.
Great job guys.
posted by: HewNaven on May 25, 2013 10:45am
The closed portion of High Street, between Elm and Wall, is the most beautiful street in the entire city. There should be more streets closed to motor vehicles and turned into pedestrian plazas. I’m not rooting for Yale to buy more adjacent streets, but if they do what has been done to High Street again, what is the problem? Its closed to cars and open to the public, and the stewardship is no longer the city’s responsibility. Thats a win-win to me.
posted by: Noteworthy on May 25, 2013 11:02am
The best deal for the city is not selling the streets to Yale for a one piddly payment of $3 million. Like 20 years ago, the sum is paltry and is so because the city is strapped for cash.
That said, this always should have been a land lease with annual payments; and if Yale was amenable to it, combining 20 years of payments into a lump sum perhaps for a discount. City Hall is hardly the bastion of good governance or sound negotiations.
What’s more, in the event of an actual sale, the easement is important. The easement puts it in the land records that there is public access. The value of easements can be easily seen in Florida. Without them, the public would be barred from great stretches of the shoreline. Likewise, Yale could do whatever Yale wants. It’s not political posturing. It’s called thinking beyond the next five minutes.
posted by: darnell on May 25, 2013 11:10am
Come on folks, know the facts before you comment. The facts are that no one is suggesting that the city take back control and open the streets, what was being negotiated when I was on the BOA was to get a fair value for the streets. It was that simple. No desire to “get”, or extort Yale. Second, those streets ARE NOT closed to traffic. Yale affiliated folks onto and park on those streets everyday. In fact, Yale sells permitted parking to it’s VIPs on that street. That is an undisputed fact that Yale has admitted to. So their employees are able to drive and park on the street, but no one else is. How elitist is that? When mentioning parking meters, it is only to measure the value of the streets, not a suggestion that anyone actually wants to place meters on the street (even though Yale essentially has by placing permitted parking signs).
So let’s stick with the facts. City owned streets were lent to Yale over a 20 year period, with the agreement to be reviewed at the end of the 20 years. True city representatives suggest that the new negotiated agreement include additional payments for the exclusive use of valuable streets. Yale does at this point have exclusive driving and parking privileges on the street.
Those are the facts.
posted by: anonymous on May 25, 2013 11:43am
HewNaven and Dorothy, although you may be correct, why decide to sell the streets outright? Why not negotiate a 30-year lease - similar to the “parking monetization” deal? Nobody can predict the future, but they can predict that things will be dramatically different in 30 years.
These streets have functioned well as public rights of way for hundreds of years - why do the Aldermen think they are so smart that they can give them away in perpetuity to private control?
posted by: SteveOnAnderson on May 25, 2013 1:14pm
Selling off public assets is not a sustainable fiscal policy, especially in a city where the tax-exempt land already sits at 48%. It is concerning that once again we see the city sell a parcel of land to Yale to close short-term budget gaps. It is even more concerning when looked at as a piece of a larger puzzle that has seen Yale gobble up real estate in Dwight, Dixwell, The Hill, Newhallville, and West Haven, capitalizing on the severity of the economic crisis with its massive endowment. Meanwhile, as its president rubs elbows in Davos and administrative ranks grow exponentially, Yale has used the economic crisis to restructure itself internally through hiring freezes, rationalization of its workforce, and (in line with national trends) an antagonism toward its “less profitable” departments and disciplines.
Yale makes billions & billions of dollars through its physical presence in New Haven, allowing it to expand further & further both locally and globally. Yale’s seemingly endless (and gaudy) expansion in the city stands in stark contradiction with the fact that the institution pays no property taxes. There is no contractual obligation to recognize the fact that New Haven plays a crucial role in Yale’s ability to grow its endowment by, for instance, tying its payment to the city to a fixed percentage of endowment growth. While its non-profit status once may have been justified by its educational mission, Yale now much more closely resembles other corporate tax-dodgers like Apple, with its non-profit status functioning like money overseas.
The notion that Yale is getting played by the city is absurd, as is the idea that anyone in the city is trying to squeeze money out of Yale. Yale University systematically takes advantage of its non-profit status to run itself like a corporation, and in the process extracts wealth from the city in this grotesque dependency relationship.
posted by: GoodNatured on May 25, 2013 3:28pm
>We can puff out our chests all we want, but the reality is that Mayor Daniels ceded these three blocks more than 20 years ago. Don’t pretend we have leverage we don’t have.<
I agree with the others who pointed out that Yale did NOT bring up this issue of control of those streets - the city and union-controlled BOA did. They tried to shake down Yale for more money, and found that they had no standing.
And, like others, I think the streets—if turned back into parking and through-traffic—would be a disaster. Can’t imagine what Elicker and Hausladen are up to on this. For staunch supporters of a livable city, this seems to run against their previously stated values.
More of the downtown streets should be turned into pedestrian- and bike-only. And if somebody else (ie, Yale) is going to pay for the conversion, upkeep, and security of said pedestrian plazas, then it is definitely win-win.
posted by: robn on May 25, 2013 4:42pm
Except for 6 very convenient abstentions including Saint Holmes and a couple of NOs, the YES votes line up fairly well with the union coalition (those supported by Yale unions who recently won an unprecedentedly generous contract.)
City For Sale anyone?
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 25, 2013 9:14pm
To those who keep saying that it is the unions.If the unions did not take office,The deal would still be cut.Remember deals like this were being cut before the union got into office.In fact check out how the BOA voted before the union got in.
posted by: darnell on May 25, 2013 10:05pm
@ Goodnatured - Sorry to burst your bubble, but
1) the city has all the leverage, we own the streets and can do whatever we please. 2) the city didn’t bring up this issue of control, the agreement between the city and Yale did, it expired after 20 yrs 3) the union controlled BOA did not exist when this issue first arose, it was a mayor controlled BOA, and 4) this street has never converted to pedestrian only. Not only do folks drive down this street regularly, but Yale sells parking spots on the street right now, a fact that you Yale supporters conveniently forget in these posts. The fact is that ONLY Yale folks can drive onto or park on these streets. Can you say ELITIST.
When Yale actually converts these streets to pedestrian only then you can come back and sell the argument that Elicker and Haulsden are anti livable city.
posted by: Mike Slattery on May 26, 2013 9:05am
Anything that attempts to take handshake deals and put them on paper sounds worth a try. The value can be debated. But it seems what the university wants is always on paper, what the city needs most (predictable income) is at times trusted to memory and sidebars.
posted by: Scot on May 26, 2013 9:21am
Selling off valuable assets for one time payments to cover shortfalls in the budget is generally not a good idea. You should only do that in times of desperation. If the city decided that $3 million has more value than the land, then they should take that $3 million and invest it in something that will provide a future revenue stream, so it could benefit future budgets, not spend it all in one year. It’s like selling a piece of land you own to pay off your credit card. Another problem with selling things to cover budget deficits is that next year when it’s time make a budget you use the previous year budget as a starting point. So the next year you are already $3 million in the hole just to have the same budget as the previous year. A better idea would have been to lease the land to Yale. Or take the proceeds and invest in something else.
posted by: GoodNatured on May 26, 2013 9:26am
I beg to differ - this is not an adequate place to argue it, but if anyone is in doubt about the history of how and when this issue of “payment” for the streets came up, I encourage them to read the record- not the comments section, where anyone can create the historical fantasy they like.
Second - the second block of High street and the block of Grove street are *functionally* already pedestrian - I know, I have been using them as pedestrian thruways for 15 years. People walk in the streets because traffic is so restricted and there are so many pedestrians and bikes.
On the other hand, contrary to what darnell asserts, *anybody* can drive on the streets, whether Yale affiliated or not—taxis do, other people do, and I do—when I have something there that needs to be done (and I don’t have a Yale sticker or parking permit). They are 2-3 blocks of dead-end streets. As one of the alders so wisely said—not very valuable to the city, but valuable to Yale.
It looks to me that people are either arguing for some illusion of parking revenue - or stuck in simple mindset of MINE MINE MINE.
And if you think that 3 million isn’t much—imagine if Yale weren’t here and the city were trying to lure such a big institution to relocate here. How much in deal-sweeteners would the city be willing to pay?
It’s not an empty proposition - Yale now has a huge campus in West Haven, a new campus in Singapore, and the prospect of expanding on-line or at branch campuses elsewhere. Yale doesn’t have to be tied to New Haven any more. It could shrink down to a core campus just for nostalgia, cut back on employees, depopulate the center, quit expanding and investing in the city, and put its resources elsewhere.
Then - as somebody else already said - New Haven would be Bridgeport. Happy now?
posted by: Webblog1 on May 26, 2013 11:12am
@ Goodnatured, You said: “Yale doesn’t have to be tied to New Haven any more. It could shrink down to a core campus just for nostalgia, cut back on employees, depopulate the center, quit expanding and investing in the city, and put its resources elsewhere”.
You would be well served to view the front page of this article to reinforce the fact in your mind that 60% of the respondents to this article disagree with your pronouncements.
Your response to Darnell deserves a response from one of the 60%‘s. That would be Me.
Yale has been feeding at the troth of New Haven taxpayers for over 100 years and now you have the utter audacity to say “Yale doesn’t have to be tied to New Haven anymore”.
That is not something that even the brazen Mike Morand would publicly say… however if you are speaking in his stead, then my response to you is… go right ahead and move it…. when and how far….
Both you and the city administration have tunnel vision when you over evaluate Yale’s contributions to New Haven to be any where near comparable to what the city has contributed to Yale over 100 years. I challenge you and Matt Smith to do the math.
It is high time Yale stops the continuing fostering of it’s contributions to New Haven, unless and until they perform, and reveal a comparable dollar analysis to sustain their false assertions.
I have also driven down these streets and viewed them as did Alderwoman Colon as she said at the meeting; “it’s a private Yale parking lot”.
So until you present evidence that Yale is New Haven’s benefactor: You can get-to-stepping>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
posted by: beyonddiscussion on May 26, 2013 12:43pm
New Haven is no match for the corporate hardball business tactics of Yale. The city continues to be bled by these “financial transactions” with Yale. Just like elsewhere, the super rich get richer, while “the little people” pay the taxes. What will it take to fix this injustice?
In this featured article, which dates back to 1990, Yale first offered 1.1M to lease the streets, the initial offer increased each year over twenty years based on Yale’s proffered CPI annual index to 2.7M today, for fire protection.
The BOA jumped at the offer without even performing a income/lost analysis. Had they done so it would have shown beyond any doubt that they were being had. Whether you consider the 1.1M,or the 2.7M for the twenty years, it would not even come close to 3M over the next 100,200 or 300 years. Three million won’t last 30 days under Destefano’s spending addition.
Do the math.Our only hope now is that an Alderman has the courage to amend this lop-sided deal at the next full board meeting.
Just think this BOA is the overseers of our money. :(
posted by: HhE on May 26, 2013 4:11pm
1) The city does not have all the leverage, as has been clearly demonstrated. The city cannot do what ever it pleases. In our country, we have the Rule of Law.
2) The issue of control expiring was one of interpretation. Yale believed that the clause was for a review, and not a renegotiation. The city saw it as a termination. One option would have been to let the courts decide. I have no idea who would win, but I have a pretty good idea who has more money for lawyers.
3) Not terribly relevant in that the city tried to shake down Yale, and the new BOA did not immediately repudiate the city’s stance.
4) I can say “elitist,” but I will not yell it.
posted by: darnell on May 26, 2013 8:35pm
You- “if anyone is in doubt about the history of how and when this issue of “payment” for the streets came up, I encourage them to read the record- not the comments section, where anyone can create the historical fantasy they like.”
I don’t have to go back and read the record, I made the record. I was the first alderman to express opposition to continuing the agreement without additional payments and a new, better written contract, and I led the BOA on this issue during my term.
You - “Second - the second block of High street and the block of Grove street are *functionally* already pedestrian”
You make this statement and then immediately counter your own argument by stating that “..contrary to what darnell asserts, *anybody* can drive on the streets, whether Yale affiliated or not—taxis do, other people do, and I do—when I have something there that needs to be done” (and I don’t have a Yale sticker or parking permit).
You - “It looks to me that people are either arguing for some illusion of parking revenue - or stuck in simple mindset of MINE MINE MINE.”
WRONG WRONG WRONG. No one is arguing to take over the streets and install meters. What we are pointing out when mentioning meters is that the street clearly has a higher value than $3 mill, based simply on the potential use of parking alnoe
You - “Yale doesn’t have to be tied to New Haven any more. It could shrink down to a core campus just for nostalgia, cut back on employees, depopulate the center, quit expanding and investing in the city, and put its resources elsewhere.”
Not even worth responding to.
posted by: darnell on May 26, 2013 8:40pm
You - “The city does not have all the leverage, as has been clearly demonstrated. The city cannot do what ever it pleases. In our country, we have the Rule of Law.”
The city, ie the taxpayers, DO have all of the leverage. They own the streets, and by law can do whatever they want.
You - “The issue of control expiring was one of interpretation. Yale believed that the clause was for a review, and not a renegotiation. The city saw it as a termination. One option would have been to let the courts decide.”
We have interpretations from several different independent lawyers, the mayor who negotiated the agreement, and several former aldermen who voted on the agreement and are NOT employees of Yale who all stated that the intent was review AND renegotiation.
posted by: HhE on May 27, 2013 8:10am
darnell, let’s say the city decided to take back the streets (which would cost real money to physically convert back to a traditional street). Yale then files an injunction, and a lawsuit. I think the city would most likely win, but only after spending even more money on lawyers (as if it had a lot of money, which it does not, which in turn is why the original deal was struck). I cannot speak to civil trial judges (or criminal) but if they are anything like family court judges, then they are not concerned with The Good or The Law, they are looking for the easiest answer, which just might be to let Yale keep the streets. Either way, Yale could rethink its voluntary payments.
At the end off the day, our opinions do not matter, Yale’s does. In that, Yale saw itself being shaken down, hard the stronger hand by far, and acted in its own interests. This is what happens when one “fights” instead of working with an entity that is far stronger.
I’m not Yale, but I know how they think. At my wedding (of about 100 people) was a Yale Trustee, two Vice Presidents, a Professor, and Michael Morand. Even the Pastor was from Yale. They would have seen this as a shake down. Any deal they were going to take, was going to be forever.
So for three million, now they can gate this area, or do something else that is bad for the city. We ought to have left well enough alone, and kept the option for a periodic review.
posted by: HewNaven on May 27, 2013 8:17am
Fair Haven Heights Alderwoman Brenda Jones-Barnes sought to clarify that the Yale would not have to guarantee public access.
“That is exactly what we’re giving up,” said city lawyer John Ward. “We’re losing it and Yale is gaining it.”
“Losing” is not the right word, Morand claimed. “It’s a financial transaction.”
....Elicker asked about creating an easement to ensure that the public always has access to the streets.
“Any appraiser would say you’ve diminished the value” of the property if it comes with easements, Morand said.
This is still a big problem with the deal; that Yale will not guarantee public access to these future private streets. I hope the full board fights for this, and votes down the proposal if such a guarantee is not included in the deal.
posted by: HhE on May 27, 2013 8:49am
I suspect, but do not know, that Doug Hausladen and Justin Elicker voted against this because Yale now out right owns this piece of land, and can close it off.
Let us recall they they have been two of the strongest advocates (by word and deed) of pedestrian friendly streets, and fiscals responsibility.
posted by: accountability on May 27, 2013 4:37pm
The “fact” that the city has no intention of taking the streets back utterly undermines your claim that “we have all the leverage.”
This is the big leagues. If we’re not serious about being willing to physically reoccupy the streets, then we don’t have much leverage at all. Here’s the relative power breakdown:
-ultimate ownership of the land. -Yale’s desire to wrap this up as part of President Levin’s legacy. -the ability to generate some negative publicity for Yale.
-20 years of use of the land including millions of dollars of improvement to High St. -The Yale community’s strong attachment to Cross Campus, including the presence of a world-renowned work of art just a few feet from the “street”. -The fact that Wall St. is entirely enclosed by campus. -The City’s financial desperation. -Knowledge that the city has no hole card, i.e. will not physically reclaim the streets. If even you, the loudest voice for getting more from them admit this, then they know for sure. -Time: notwithstanding the desire to wrap this up as Levin departs, the status quo is tolerable in perpetuity until political/economic conditions change. -the fact that the Administration is a lame duck, decrepit political machine, whose leader will need your goodwill in his future life as a community banker. -The best lawyers in the world, and the knowledge that the City can’t afford to litigate. -a professional assessment of the value of the land.
Now, imagine yourself as a negotiator for each party, instead of a table-thumping lone alderman. How do you get Yale to give you more? How to you get them to settle with you for more now, rather than just wait you out? What concrete steps would you take?
so, it’s three million now, or a deal of a different kind [maybe better, maybe worse] after the elections. The City is in the same position it was when Daniels signed his agreement 20 years ago: fiscal crisis, little leverage.
posted by: darnell on May 27, 2013 6:55pm
Sorry, but your Yale sponsored argument doesn’t hold water. The issue is whether or not the city has leverage, because clearly they do, they own he streets and can simply change the Yale permitted sign to parking meters and nothing else would change on that street, except Yale would no longer control it. That’s important.
But what really is the issue here is that the folks in the room negotiating are not doing so on behalf of the taxpayers of New Haven. They have a different agenda, and caving in to a VERY BAD deal for the taxpayers is not their concern. They are cutting another deal for another interest. I don’t know exactly what that deal is since I am not in the room, but we’ll find out in a few months when the pieces start to fall in place.
This whole idea that the City can’t reclaim it’s own streets is ludicrous. And the threat that it will cost a lot in litigation is a red herring. We can make life just as difficult for Yale as they can for us. The threats can fly both ways. So, why don’t you and Yale lay off the threats and do the right thing.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 27, 2013 11:32pm
I think the idea of a ‘fair market value’ is something that is applicable to some fictitious ‘everyman’ that might want to buy these streets.
Yale’s interest in the property because of it’s intrinsic location should raise that ‘fair market value’ significantly.
Since 3 million bucks is what Yale paid for 99 years of parking rights on Broadway (2011), this looks more and more like a prescribed, budgeted amount, rather than a price rooted in reality.
posted by: Curious on May 28, 2013 7:45am
Darnell, how does the Yale PD/MHPD thing shake out?
Are the NHPD required to respond to incidents that happen on Yale’s campus? Or can they opt not to do so? That would seem like a big card to play.
posted by: accountability on May 28, 2013 9:46am
Thanks for reminding me why I spend relatively little time at this site lately. People say one thing, then they say the opposite, as if it doesn’t matter and as if nobody will re-read comments.
Earlier you said:
“The facts are that no one is suggesting that the city take back control and open the streets,”
Now you say: “This whole idea that the City can’t reclaim it’s own streets is ludicrous.”
Those statement directly contradict each other. Which do you believe? I believe that without a willingness and ability to take back the streets physically, the city has minimal negotiating leverage.
It’s a real estate transaction. Each side is searching for the other’s bottom line. It’s a contest of power. In that situation, you have to be clear about the cards your holding.
And, as usual on this site, you completely ducked the question I asked you. What concrete steps would you take to force Yale to give us more? Lawsuits? Backhoes? Picket signs? And how are you going to force the DeStefano Administration to do any of that? Or are you just going to ask Yale nicely to, as you say, “do the right thing?” That’s your strategy—supplication? Please, sir, may I have some more?
Voting the deal down now kicks it forward to after the elections. We’ve already done that once and the deal didn’t get better. As anyone who reads these comments regularly knows, I have tremendous respect for Alderwomen Clyburn, Foskey-Cyrus and Jones Barnes. I don’t think they cast bad votes. I just haven’t heard a compelling case for how this deal gets better over time.
I do want to congratulate you on a first. I’ve been accused of many things in my life, but this is the first time I’ve ever been accused of fronting for Yale. lol.
posted by: accountability on May 28, 2013 10:00am
Yale University has its own police force. Fully deputized, carrying weapons and with complete powers of custodial arrest.
And even if it didn’t, are you seriously willing to deal with the consequences of someone being harmed on campus—say a woman being raped while everyone listens to her scream waiting for cops who never show?
Or, I know, let’s cut off their fire service and let a dorm burn down even thought they make an annual multi-milliion dollar fire payment.
I don’t think the City’s non-profits pay enough money to make up for the bite they take out of the grand list, and we need to figure that out. But there’s a huge element of fantasy in many comments here. All the things necessary to get Yale to move on this particular deal are major escalations in the relationship. John DeStefano has no stomach for that.
That’s why Dorothy25 is right. I don’t think the people on this site are stupid, many of them just have an axe to grind with the majority of the Board and love Justin and Doug. They’ll criticize the majority’s actions with any spurious argument that comes to mind, regardless of the degree of connection to reality.
The BoA can only vote yes or no. So the choice is vote yes for $3 million now or kick the decision down the road. The decision got kicked down the road two years ago. I don’t see the deal getting better.
posted by: darnell on May 28, 2013 11:23am
If Yale is doing so much for New Haven, as they continually state in defense of their proposal, then put their good deeds in writing, in a clear and concise agreement, that we can then hold them to in 5, 10 20 years. Remember, while I, and perhaps you, pay our taxes every 6 months to New Haven, they do not on the majority of their property. Those dorms house a whole lot of students who pay a good amount of money to attend Yale. And guess what, Yale doesn’t provide its world class education for free, nor do all of their well and highly paid administrators. Why should the taxpayers accept anything less for Yale’s desire to have those streets. For goodness sakes, they aren’t even willing to provide an easement for New Haven residents to use the streets. How would any self respecting representative of New Haven residents allow such a deal?
posted by: abg22 on May 28, 2013 12:23pm
Of course, there is a perfectly good way for the City to generate continuing revenue from these streets, which are now just another impermeable surface: by enacting a stormwater user fee similar to what the board of aldermen declined to authorize in 2011, despite the fact that it woud bring in revenue from New Haven’s considerable fraction (50%) of nontaxable property, as well as as addressing one of our most pressing environmental problems, the disgusting 250 million gallons of raw sewage dumped into our waterways every year in combined sewer overflows. Yale was amenable to paying a stormwater fee at that time and there is no reason to believe that has changed.
posted by: WestRiver on May 28, 2013 3:57pm
The truth is, that without easements Yale would be buying 2 potential building lots for $3 million.In the deal that is being worked out they can no longer be thought of as streets or walkways.Is that a fair price?
posted by: PH on May 28, 2013 5:30pm
That is too little money. What are the lost parking meters worth for the next 250 years? Yale has been around for longer than that, it seems reasonable to expect that forever will encompass at least that much time.
Banking on eminent domain as a fallback plan is no plan at all. Any lawyer that advises the aldermen that that is a viable fallback is nearing malpractice.
Of course easements will diminish the value. But $3 million is a lowball offer to start out with! An easement for public access, at the very least pedestrian and bike access, should be absolutely mandatory. If Yale is unwilling to consider such an easement, it is proof unto itself of how they are considering eventually walling off the property to the public.
Why should Yale’s voluntary contributions be factored into this at all? This is a singular transaction, with long-term ramifications beyond whatever Yale feels like chipping in to make New Haven more desirable for its students and employees. Separate the two concepts for they are easily separated. Standing alone, this is simply too little money for such important and prime real estate.
The city should also not forget how very much Yale WANTS this property to be within their control, without traffic, without meters, etc. This is leverage indeed.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 28, 2013 7:26pm
Do I hear 50 million?
So, who is this auctioneer, anyhow???
posted by: HhE on May 28, 2013 8:39pm
Bill Saunders, appraiser, not auctioneer.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 28, 2013 10:42pm
Sometimes my posts are straight facts, sometimes story telling, other times, editorial. But that one was strictly tongue in cheek.
posted by: The Miz on May 29, 2013 9:58am
SURPRISE SURPRISE! The Yale Unions put alderman into place, and now they are reaping the benefits!
“” Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen (pictured) spoke up against the sale. “Three million dollars doesn’t even cover the lost revenue in parking spaces alone,” he said. “”
That ALONE should be enough of a reason to not sell the lots. As previously commented, there are also tons of people who use these streets. This is a sad, inexcusable offense by those who voted yes. But hey, gotta keep those who got you in office happy, right?
posted by: accountability on May 29, 2013 11:32am
Forget $50 million. I say a billion!
PH: “The city should also not forget how very much Yale WANTS this property to be within their control, without traffic, without meters, etc. This is leverage indeed.”
Really? The BoA has postponed action on this issue for two years because the original offer, basically nothing, wasn’t good enough. Now here we are, with $3 million on the table, based on a professional assessment, not the wishes of amateurs.
Yes, the University ULTIMATELY wants to control these streets. But they have $20 billion under their mattress, all the time and lawyers in the world, total control of High St., which they’ve spent millions of dollars to improve and which the city would look idiotic trying to reclaim, and effective day to day control of Wall St. Meanwhile their negotiating partner is a collapsing political machine in a constant state of fiscal crisis, and in the midst of an historic political transition.
So, thump your electronic tub all you want. But if you’re honest about this issue, you’ll take a stab at the question that darnell keeps ducking: What, concretely, do you suggest the Board do to improve the deal after voting it down?
Hire another appraiser? Okay, what if that comes back with similar numbers [which it likely will]? Just ignore it and say “but, but, but we know it’s worth more!!!!”? There has to be a rational basis for valuing the property. Go read the appraisal and come back and tell us all how it’s wrong and how you would do it differently.
Voting the deal down simply means delay with the vague hope that the deal will get better in the future. I haven’t heard any concrete plan to get there. And the value of the payment declines every day we delay.
posted by: darnell on May 29, 2013 1:16pm
No one is ducking your issue, in fact I have been answering the question for the last 2 years, and did so again earlier in the comment section. for some reason, the NHI did not print that comment.
First, as I have said, I would improve the agreement several ways. First, i would get a real INDEPENDENT appraisal. Anyone who knows the system knows that you can get an appraiser to give you a number that you are looking for. Clearly, the City and Yale are in collusion, and that $3 million figure is suspect. How do you appraise the value of several streets? Is it based on location? Or potential revenue? Do you base it on the sale of previous streets in similar locations? Come on, you know as well as anyone that the appraisal is a load of….
Second, Yale claims to offset the sale price by the amount of good deeds they perform for New Haven. Well, list the good deeds in the document and include guarantees that they will continue.
Third, include an easement that allows non Yale affiliated folks access to the street.
Fourth, include language that would guarantee that Yale would convert all the streets to pedestrian and biking use and stop using it as a personal parking lot.
posted by: HewNaven on May 29, 2013 3:44pm
...if you’re honest about this issue, you’ll take a stab at the question that darnell keeps ducking: What, concretely, do you suggest the Board do to improve the deal after voting it down?
Very simple. In the deal, include a guarantee that the public will always be able to access these 2 streets (Wall & portion of High) via any of the existing intersections (i.e. Elm, College, Grove, York). In other words, no gates or guarded entrance.
posted by: WestRiver on May 29, 2013 4:38pm
Why does everyone seem to think that when and if Yale purchases these streets they will remain as open space? If Yale buys them they can most likely build on them.Expanding or joining the buildings on either side.Yale is buying lots.Lots that happen to be in the heart of the campus and should be priced accordingly.
posted by: Curious on May 29, 2013 6:06pm
***** Second, Yale claims to offset the sale price by the amount of good deeds they perform for New Haven. Well, list the good deeds in the document and include guarantees that they will continue.
Third, include an easement that allows non Yale affiliated folks access to the street. *****
Yes. This. The fact that Yale refused to agree to these terms, on the grounds that it would lower the property value, tells you EVERYTHING.
If they really wanted to keep it free and open to all, they would not care about the property value, and would have no problem agreeing to this.
posted by: accountability on May 29, 2013 6:13pm
Wow. I never thought the day would come when i would actually agree with Mike Morand, at least in part. Wonders will never cease.
Hew Naven: Great suggestion. But from the buyer’s perspective, it’s not a sale. Or it’s a sale with encumbrances, which reduces the value of the property. When I bought my house, if the seller had tried to dictate the future improvements to the lot, either I wouldn’t have bought it, or would have paid a lot less than we did.
And just out of curiosity, when was the last time you were in that part of town, anyway? No gates? Hello? High “Street” already has a gate on it! It’s no longer really a street. So you’re proposing to “sell” the streets to Yale, but make them tear down existing improvements to the property carried out under the old agreement? Huh?
As for Wall St., do you think the City has a vital interest in allowing Yale to control it only if they keep it a “street” in some form? Why is that important to you?
Remember, it’s currently blocked to general traffic, so you and I can’t really drive on it. It provides parking for Yale management and is an artery only for maintenance, deliveries and emergency vehicles. All of that agreed to under the old agreement. That’s the status quo.
[and yes, anonymous’s first comment is baloney. People do not use these four blocks to “navigate the city’s streets” except on foot or bike. Both are closed to general car traffic]
If it matters to the city that it stay a “street” once it’s sold to Yale, then we have to pay for that interest with a discount to the sale price, whether the proposed $3 million or the magical “more” that everyone here seems to want but can’t/won’t define.
So the Board can pass whatever it wants, but Yale doesn’t have to agree to any of it. A no vote means no deal now, and some deal, maybe better, maybe worse, some time in the future. Maybe. The only way to change the dynamic is hardball—backhoes, parking meters, etc. DeStefano has no stomach for that game.
I have never tried to be an apologist for DeStefano. However, in the past, I’ve said that I thought the opposition was hypocritical: that if they were in the same position as Goldfield/DeStefano, they’d make the same weak decisions to make 1 time sales to plug budget holes.
Indeed, they did.
I’ve been told I’m ignorant by many of the people who have historically opposed these deals. I wonder what the answer is now? This deal—another one-time sale—is somehow magically better than the last one-time sales?
This BofA needs to get it together and start really working on the budget in advance to prevent these types of transactions. While this deal is not the worst we’ve ever seen, it certainly shouldn’t be the norm.
posted by: darnell on May 31, 2013 11:11pm
Sorry Streever, but your crystal ball is a little foggy. This deal has very little to do with filling budget holes and has a lot more to do with future labor negotiations with the most politically powerful unions in the city. It doesn’t hurt that many of the aldermen either work at Yale or have some other very personal connections, like children attending the university. You may have reached the right conclusion, but you got their by accident…lol.
BTW, please don’t lump all aldermen or former aldermen together. I didn’t oppose this deal because of some personal or political grudge against DeStefano/Goldfield or Yale, but simply because as it was structured then and now, it is just a BAD deal for the taxpayers of New Haven.
posted by: SteveOnAnderson on June 1, 2013 7:27am
I think you’re part right. I think it actually has more to do with future negotiations with Yale about its financial relationship with the city. Either way, I agree strongly with you that this is a BAD deal for New Haven residents. As a member of the Yale community as well, I think this is actually a bad deal for Yale University, which is confusing its educational mission with the financial goals of the Yale Corporation. Owning the city of New Haven does not help Yale University.
Thank you for creating the petition, Tim. Yes, it is a long shot, but it certainly cannot hurt to sign, share, and spread around to others! I definitely urge everyone who opposes this sale to sign & ask friends and neighbors to sign as well. Hopefully, people are learning the true value of public space from the uprising in Turkey happening right now.