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City’s Transit Future Beheld

by Thomas MacMillan | Mar 21, 2014 4:57 pm

(31) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Housing, Transportation, Downtown, The Hill, West River

Thomas MacMillan Photos On board a bus tour of New Haven, two dozen visionaries stopped by colorful murals on Howard Avenue, checked on a reverse-spiraled parking garage, and visited two-way MLK Boulevard, where a town trolley rides on rails.

Those sights don’t exist. Yet.

But they were visible to the bus’s passengers, who were looking into the possible future of transportation in the emerging “Hill-to-Downtown” neighborhood.

The bus tour was part of a “mobility study” organized by the New Haven parking authority, to imagine a brighter parking and transportation future as the city moves forward with development between the Hill neighborhood and downtown.

That development includes a host of projects: LiveWorkLearnPlay’s planned construction at the Coliseum site; Downtown Crossing, the infilling of the Rt. 34 corridor; plans for improvements at the train station and Church Street South, the housing project across the street under a broader “Hill-to-Downtown” plan.

Amid all of these changes, the parking authority wants to ensure that people have a chance to shape the system by which they get around, said David Panagore, acting head of the authority.

The authority contracted Nelson\Nygaard consultants to collect that input, analyze the situation, and create a report with recommendations. Thursday’s bus tour was the first step in that process.

The tour began Thursday at the parking authority offices on the second floor of the train station. Participants—neighbors, activists, and representatives from Yale, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the city administration—gathered in a conference room for donuts and coffee and a pre-tour chat.

At 10 a.m., the group piled into a chartered shuttle bus waiting at the curb on Union Avenue and shoved off.

Reverse The Flow!

The first stop was on Church Street outside Gateway Community College. The bus pulled over and Nelson\Nygaard’s Jason Schrieber (pictured) asked people about any problems caused by the new college.

A chorus responded: “The traffic!”

Chris Soto, a Livable City Initiative staffer, explained how cars coming on and off the highway have to cross lanes of traffic to get to and from the school’s parking garage.

“Oh, they’re trying to do a weave in the traffic,” Schrieber said. “That’s nuts.”

Anstress Farwell, head of the Urban Design League, said that the entrance to the school garage is “flipped.” Cars entering from one-way Crown street have to drive past the exit to get to the entrance. That creates a conflict every time cars are entering and exiting at the same time.

“They just goofed,” Farwell said.

Doug Hausladen, New Haven’s transit chief, said he has had meetings with Gateway asking the school to “reverse the flow of the garage,” to make the entrance the exit and vice versa.

“Students are very malleable,” Schrieber said. “Malleable in that I can get them out of their cars easier.” It’s easier to convince students to take other modes of transportation, he claimed.

Connect The Sidewalks!

The shuttle stopped next on MLK Boulevard between College and York streets.

“All right, we’ve got construction,” Schrieber said, pointing to the skeleton of the new 100 College St. building, the future home of Alexion pharmaceutical company and the first phase of Downtown Crossing. What will this area be like after that building is complete? he asked.

If it had housing, it’d have been great, said Hill Alder Dolores Colon from the back of the bus. “It’s going to be another box that’s going to be desolate after 5 p.m.”

The key will be the “pedestrian experience” determined by what happens on the ground floor, piped in Chris Heitmann, head of the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance. With stores and pleasant sidewalks, people will get out of their cars and claim the space for pedestrians.

Schrieber asked about the future of the now-vacant space between 100 College and the Air Rights garage.

Another parking garage, passengers groaned.

“We saw that as a real failure in planning,” said Farwell. “We fought to have sidewalks along the garage” but the pedestrian connection to the Air Rights garage remains to be determined.

Bring On The Trolley!

On the way to the next stop, Hausladen and Heitmann chatted about the importance of small cross streets connecting larger thoroughfares.

“The more corners the better,” Hausladen said.

 

When the shuttle stopped on Tyler Street, between MLK Boulevard and Legion Avenue, West River activist Stacy Spell discussed those small connectors with Schrieber.

“These streets used to go all the way through,” Spell said. He pointed out the oft-overlooked dead-end Porter Street, now severed from its counterpart north of MLK and Legion.

“You’ve got to have the connectivity,” said Schrieber.

Spell pointed out the area to the east, earmarked for a new headquarters for Continuum of Care and offices and stores. And he pointed out the residential area envisioned to the west. 

Schrieber asked about converting the one-way MLK and Legion to two-way streets.

“Most people would be responsive to two-way streets,” Spell said. He said the one-way streets force him to drive well out of his way to take his wife to the train station for her commute to work.

Jim Staniewicz, the parking authority’s engineering director, offered another solution to that problem: a trolley. A dedicated streetcar could connect people easily to the train station.

You could even have a rubber-wheeled trolley, Schrieber said.

Better to have one on rails, Staniewicz said. A true streetcar would add “charm” and “sense of permanency” to the neighborhood, he said.

Move In The Workers!

The tour doubled back on Legion Avenue and turned down Howard Avenue. After passing through the busy are around Yale-New Haven Hospital, the shuttle pulled over just south of Congress Avenue.

The hospital is good because it means jobs, Schrieber said. But it also “crashes into neighborhoods.”

“Where is the city of New Haven actually benefiting from it?” asked one woman.

“Here they create jobs for the suburbanites,” said the woman sitting next to her.

When it comes to the medical industry, “live/work is huge,” Schrieber said. When people live close to work “that kills parking demand.” How can the city attract more people to live here?

The city should “take a look at what other hospital districts are doing,” said Farwell (at center in photo above).

Hospitals have an incentive to have workers living nearer, Schrieber said. “They don’t want to be in the business of building parking garages.”

And workers “arrive to work with less stress” if they’re not fighting traffic on the highway, Farwell noted.

Rodney Slaughter, the hospital’s head of “parking and sustainable transportation,” later said that the hospital takes comprehensive and award-winning measures to encourage workers to live nearby and to cut down on the impact of commuting. The hospital has a homebuyers program. It offers subsidies on bus and train passes, shuttles to commuter lots and to Union Station, reserved parking for high efficiency vehicles, and 22 free spaces for van-pools. Slaughter said over 1,200 employees are enrolled in the hospital’s transportation demand management program.

Pull Out the Paint!

Schrieber (at left in photo) turned the conversation to traffic calming. He said murals can slow drivers who press the brakes to take a look.

“New Haven is ready for an explosion of public art,” said Hausladen.

(A group of neighbors are currently working on a public art project on Humphrey Street.)

New Haven could be covered with murals. Like Philadelphia, said Donna Greene (at right in photo), sitting with Helen Bennet-Dawson at the front of the bus.

As she got off the shuttle back at the train station, Greene, who lives on Salem Street in the Hill, said she’s most concerned about pollution from “all the parking lots their building.” All that exhaust just increases rates of asthma, she said.

“People would prefer to use a trolley,” which would mean fewer cars on the road and less pollution in the air, Greene said.

Spell called the tour a good way to “make sure everybody is at the table early.”

“I learned the community is more on board with the right things to do than they’re given credit for,” said Schrieber. He said the neighborhood isn’t afraid of change, of development; it just wants to see returns. “They want to see people living here,” to reconnect the Rt. 34 corridor, to have a walkable neighborhood.

All of that will lead to a neighborhood with more economic vitality, less traffic, and healthier lifestyles, Schrieber said.

Schrieber said that while it was too soon for him to have any specific development recommendations, there’s “no question” that the area could have “more live/work going on here.”

Another tour is scheduled to take place next Thursday, with focus groups to follow in April, workshops in May, and a final public meeting in June.

 

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posted by: Threefifths on March 21, 2014  5:20pm

People wake up.When you start see these type of bus tours,Gentrification is not far behind.This will be all of you soon in New Haven.

http://youtu.be/WavTSjJkL0U

posted by: HewNaven on March 21, 2014  5:42pm

Is the NHPA the best authority to assess concerns like pedestrian safety and walkability? They seem more suited to deal with parking specifically, but not planning and development in general. Seems like a well-meaning group just got taken for a ride.

posted by: ILivehere on March 21, 2014  5:46pm

@3/5
One can only hope you are correct.

posted by: anonymous on March 21, 2014  7:43pm

3/5. Want to stop gentrification? Tell the parking authority we want to use our land for housing, not more parking garages.

The definition of Gentrification is a lack of democracy in the utilization of land, which is emblematized by the Parking Authority.

posted by: Pedro Soto on March 21, 2014  7:58pm

I hate to be the one to point this out regarding the Gateway garage, but you can’t reverse the entrance and exit.
The garage is not like temple street where there is a seperate lane up and seperate lane down. In the gateway garage there is simply one 2 way lane for up and down.
Reversing the entrance and exit would subsequently reverse the traffic flow inside the garage. People going up would drive on the right, and down on the left, contrary to normal traffic flow.

It would be very difficult to come up with enough signage and control to get people to pull out and drive the opposite of how they normally do.

posted by: SalCindependent on March 21, 2014  10:32pm

Walk the area ! What are you afraid of?

posted by: romby on March 21, 2014  11:24pm

@ 3/5

how many times are you going link to that youtube video? Are you getting click-throughs or something?

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on March 21, 2014  11:31pm

I agree with ILiveHere -

One can only hope that 3/5 is correct and that gentrification isn’t far behind.

posted by: JustAnotherTaxPayer on March 22, 2014  12:08pm

Only when Yale sees the profit in it, will gentrification occur. But first they have to surrender their historic belief that maintaining social misery in the lower classes, close to campus, so their students have live specimens to study and work with, is counter productive, and in the real world of drug gang subcultures, deadly. Ask the family of the Christian Prince.

PS.-“STACY SPELL FOR MAYOR OF NEW HAVEN!”

posted by: ILivehere on March 22, 2014  2:59pm

@Pedro Soto
umm just making crown 2 way would solve the problem. You could also have the cross over inside the garage instead of out on the street.

I think the best solution would have been to design it correctly from the get go. It must be embarrassing for a college to have made such a sophomoric mistake. Pun intended.

posted by: Threefifths on March 22, 2014  4:57pm

posted by: anonymous on March 21, 2014 7:43pm

3/5. Want to stop gentrification? Tell the parking authority we want to use our land for housing, not more parking garages.

The definition of Gentrification is a lack of democracy in the utilization of land, which is emblematized by the Parking Authority.

Not me tell them.We all must tell them.You two.

posted by: Threefifths on March 22, 2014  8:51pm

posted by: romby on March 21, 2014 11:24pm

@ 3/5

how many times are you going link to that youtube video? Are you getting click-throughs or something?

Just look at downtown new haven.Can you afford the rents.

my bad.How about this you tube.

Spike Lee Rant, Spike Lee’s Epic Anti-Gentrification Speech,

http://youtu.be/UKDtVF8aog8

posted by: Threefifths on March 22, 2014  8:56pm

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on March 21, 2014 11:31pm

I agree with ILiveHere -

One can only hope that 3/5 is correct and that gentrification isn’t far behind.

Did you know that when gentrification that property values go up, so do property tax revenues.Becareful what you ask for.

posted by: Bradley on March 22, 2014  9:40pm

3/5ths, you and I disagree that gentrification is, on balance, bad for the city. But, we agree that it is happening, is likely to become more pervasive, and harms at least some poor and working class folks. In light of the city’s dependence on the grand list to pay its bills, what would suggest the Mayor Harp do? Please do not suggest taxing Yale. While I am neutral on the merits of this position, it would require a constitutional amendment that simply will not happen in the foreseeable future.

posted by: 1483mmm on March 22, 2014  11:23pm

Hmmm…. a mobility study and an assessment is made by riding through neighborhoods.  If you really want to know what it is like to live here, WALK around the neighborhoods and talk to people.

posted by: Doctor Who on March 23, 2014  2:30am

Why don’t they just figure out whatever worked in Williamsburg, Faubourg Marigny and Portland and unleash some of that magic in New Haven? 
I don’t think building some weird community college downtown was on the success plan, but spilt milk and all that.

posted by: Public-Inefficiencies on March 23, 2014  8:19am

Instead of spending money on a trolley without knowing the cost/benefit/usage stats, why not start simple and change the bus routes? 

For the most part, we have a hub and spoke system in New Haven.  While it’s a good idea for transfers, it’s a terrible idea for commuters who don’t want to add the extra minutes to their commutes transferring buses.  How hard would it be to give out surveys to people when they get on the bus and ask them fill out where they get on and their ultimate destination?  Or give out surveys at the train station re: their bus use?  This survey might show the need for some new and more direct/efficient routes.

Also, I commute to NYC and have stopped driving to the New Haven train station and instead go to West Haven or Bridgeport.  It costs $14 to park in New Haven vs West Haven/Bridgeport where it costs $6.  Not only does it cost more than twice as much, it usually takes 10-15 minutes to pay and leave the lot at the end of the day.  Why is the cost so high?  And why can’t we have a pre-pay system like most train stations?

If we don’t make commuting convenient, efficient and cost effective, people will continue to drive….

posted by: ILivehere on March 23, 2014  12:08pm

@ 3/5
No When the grand list goes up the mil rate drops. That’s for every one so the more gentrified downtown becomes the more affordable we can make the low income housing in The Hill, Dwight, and Fair haven.

Spike lee is talking about gentrification of the low income of the outer burros. I don’t know why you keep referencing NY since its the only place like it in the world. I don’t think you will ever see anyone complain about the gentrification of Columbus circle.

As far as affordable rents in Downtown new haven. You can find a market rate 1 bedroom for $1300.00 That is not expensive for what should be the most expensive rent in the city. Can everyone afford it no but that’s how it should be. I cant afford a 5000 sq ft beach house in Madison but I don’t cast blame else ware. I simply except the fact that its out of reach. I pay more $3k a month to live here and I’m sick of stepping over sidewalks full of urine and getting asked for spare change every block.

posted by: TheMadcap on March 23, 2014  12:41pm

@ILivehere

You left out the part where the mill rate drops but the rent still skyrockets in the parts of the cities where gentrification is happening and suddenly the poor can’t live in their neighborhoods anymore now that a bunch of people from the suburbs realized the suburbs are terrible. Gentrification in the colloquial sense doesn’t mean a gradual improvement of areas, it means a sudden change in the makeup and value of a neighborhood that pushes old residents out.(and those old residents definitely can’t afford to move to the suburbs because the people there spent 40 years making sure it was unaffordable/unpractical for the poor to live there)

posted by: Threefifths on March 23, 2014  6:44pm

posted by: TheMadcap on March 23, 2014 12:41pm

@ILivehere

You left out the part where the mill rate drops but the rent still skyrockets in the parts of the cities where gentrification is happening and suddenly the poor can’t live in their neighborhoods anymore now that a bunch of people from the suburbs realized the suburbs are terrible. Gentrification in the colloquial sense doesn’t mean a gradual improvement of areas, it means a sudden change in the makeup and value of a neighborhood that pushes old residents out.(and those old residents definitely can’t afford to move to the suburbs because the people there spent 40 years making sure it was unaffordable/unpractical for the poor to live there)

Home run.

posted by: ILivehere on March 23, 2014 12:08pm

Spike lee is talking about gentrification of the low income of the outer burros. I don’t know why you keep referencing NY since its the only place like it in the world. I don’t think you will ever see anyone complain about the gentrification of Columbus circle.

Not true.

In Apartments Above Carnegie Hall, a Coda for Longtime Residents
By LIZ ROBBINS
Published: August 27, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/28/nyregion/28carnegie.html


I simply except the fact that its out of reach. I pay more $3k a month to live here and I’m sick of stepping over sidewalks full of urine and getting asked for spare change every block.

And do you think gentrification will change this.

My bad.Can forget this.

The Other Side of Gentrification: Health Effects of Displacement.


http://www.livablecities.org/blog/other-side-gentrification-health-effects-displacement

posted by: ILivehere on March 23, 2014  7:21pm

@TheMadcap

Not that I agree your premise that we should leave depressed, depreciated, dilapidated areas of the city untouched so that the poor can afford to live there. Even if that were the case what specific areas of New Haven are you worried about that happening in? Do you really see people from Madison moving to the Hill or Newhallville?

Just to reiterate unlike New York there are no areas of New Haven that are becoming or will become gentrified that are largely occupied by the less then financially stable.

posted by: Threefifths on March 24, 2014  9:02am

posted by: ILivehere on March 23, 2014 7:21pm

@TheMadcap

Not that I agree your premise that we should leave depressed, depreciated, dilapidated areas of the city untouched so that the poor can afford to live there. Even if that were the case what specific areas of New Haven are you worried about that happening in? Do you really see people from Madison moving to the Hill or Newhallville?

Look at Science Park Development Corporation.

The SPDC is a nonprofit corporation represented by the City of New Haven, Yale University, Property owners, and neighborhood stakeholders within the Science Park neighborhood. Science Park is some 80 acres of industrial reuse land and buildings located at the north central part of New Haven bordering the southern tip of Newhallville neighborhood and west of Yale’s Science Hill. The SPDC is charged with the stewardship of redeveloping the developable parcels within Science Park. In the last two years, the area has seen significant resurgence of development interests. Currently there are multimillion dollar developments in the area spearheaded by Winstanley Enterprises. Refer to link below for more information. Contact the SPDC for listing of available commercial properties and development opportunities in the area.

Notice were it says bordering the southern tip of Newhallville neighborhood and west of Yale’s Science Hill.Are they not building on Winchester Ave.

http://www.trulia.com/property/3141844930-130-Winchester-Ave-29-New-Haven-CT-06511

You talk about downtown New Haven apartments going for 1 bedroom for $1300.00/I talk with people I know that live downtown.There rents are going up.Like I said the Gentrification vampires are coming.

posted by: romby on March 24, 2014  11:01am

@ 3/5

Thanks for mixing it up a bit.

posted by: RhyminTyman on March 24, 2014  12:03pm

3/5 should we not build any new building or try to repair any blight? The way you keep the poor in New Haven and have them thrive is to develop with part of development being affordable. 80/20 is allows for a great tax basis for strong schools etc and creates strong safe neighborhoods. I don’t understand why you feel this a bad thing. Does the city owe nothing to the current home owners to make their property more valuable? Keeping the city blighted just doesn’t help anyone.

posted by: ILivehere on March 24, 2014  12:32pm

@ 3/5
First off science park is commercial not residential and its being used today for the same thing it was 100 years ago. Developing the leading technology’s of the day.

Secondly its done nothing to push low income family’s from the area. Here are recently sold homes in that area. You will see houses there go for the price a of a car.

http://www.zillow.com/homes/recently_sold/New-Haven-CT/6155_rid/41.331411,-72.923652,41.319035,-72.937793_rect/15_zm/

posted by: Threefifths on March 24, 2014  2:25pm

posted by: ILivehere on March 24, 2014 12:32pm

@ 3/5
First off science park is commercial not residential and its being used today for the same thing it was 100 years ago. Developing the leading technology’s of the day.

Science Park wants to expand.When do you think they will be look at.The SPDC is a nonprofit corporation represented by the City of New Haven, Yale University, Property owners, and neighborhood stakeholders within the Science Park neighborhood.


Secondly its done nothing to push low income family’s from the area. Here are recently sold homes in that area. You will see houses there go for the price a of a car.

Most of the homes were foreclosure and people lost them due to job lost and taxes going up.You said you pay 3,000 a month.How come you do not buy one of these homes.What you fail to understand is gentrification comes in waves. New haven is looking at the first wave.I have family in New York who own Brownstones in Brooklyn and Harlem.They saw gentrification coming over 30 years ago.You see the plan is to make downtown new haven look like central park west.like I said wake up gentrification is coming.

My bad.I talk to some people in West Haven.Gentrification will be there soon.Think about it.They told me why does West Haven need a train station and why is Yale and UNH buying up properties in West Haven.

posted by: Threefifths on March 24, 2014  2:39pm

posted by: RhyminTyman on March 24, 2014 12:03pm

3/5 should we not build any new building or try to repair any blight? The way you keep the poor in New Haven and have them thrive is to develop with part of development being affordable. 80/20 is allows for a great tax basis for strong schools etc and creates strong safe neighborhoods. I don’t understand why you feel this a bad thing. Does the city owe nothing to the current home owners to make their property more valuable? Keeping the city blighted just doesn’t help anyone.


You do not need Gentrification to clean up blight.If the city would do there job,There would be no Blight.Blight is used to justify gentrification.Consequences of gentrification are the involuntary or voluntary displacement of renters, Homeowners and local businesses,increased real estate values, Increased tax revenue, deconcentration of poverty,And an increased value put on the neighborhood by outsiders.

posted by: RhyminTyman on March 24, 2014  3:31pm

3/5 You have created a boogie man. There is no incentive to turn downtown New Haven into Central Park West. You do not have enough high incomes in New Haven(and I mean people in charge of hedge funds, CEO’s, athletes, and movie stars). You posted a video of Spike Lee being hypocritically angry at white kids moving to Brooklyn.

Expanding the grand list with keep taxes down. What should my mill rate on my house be? At what point does that cost more than living the cost of living in a nicer New Haven? Do you feel the city has no obligation to make taxes more affordable or should they make sure every market rate rental property is low? Require building with a ratio of affordable and market rate apartments help poor people feel less poor and gives them better living conditions to boot. Or better yet do what are doing in the Heights and build a development of get this workforce and affordable single families homes, where even if you don’t receive a subsidy you get a hell of a deal with a great view.

This is what you are demagogically whining about. Developing New Haven is good for everyone, especially home owners. A home is typically the large investment vehicle a person has, increase value increases a person’s wealth. This doesn’t charge even if you post a silly cartoon that seeming doesn’t have a point .

posted by: ILivehere on March 24, 2014  3:54pm

@3/5
Why don’t I buy a home there? I don’t even understand the question I wouldn’t drive through the area without a police escort. Why would anyone want to live out there?

I never said downtown should look like central park west what I intended to say is that I think its very odd that in new haven people complain about gentrification of downtown which is/ should be the most valuable real-estate. There is no one to push out here.

In real-estate just like in business things either get better or worse but they don’t remain stagnant. What is now low income was once middle income housing. People moved to Woodbridge, lower income people moved in and now its all section 8. I just want Downtown to continue moving in a positive direction.

I don’t know why you are blaming the city for blight when blight is more often then not caused by home owners who neglect there property. That’s not the city’s fault that’s what low income housing usually brings these days.

posted by: budman on March 25, 2014  8:17pm

wait a minute..  we have an “acting” director of the parking authority doing a traffic mobility study, and the city traffic “czar” is talking to gateway about “reversing the flow of the (parking) garage”? and the best comment from him is that the city if ready for an explosion of public art? really??  come on.. how many people are we hiring to compensate to the inadequacies of this administrations appointments?  And Pedro Soto has it right.  You can’t change the entering of cars in the garage without serious ramifications of what happens inside the garage.  The obvious fix is a two way street.  And to the woman that asked, “Where is the city of New Haven actually benefiting from it? (Yale New Haven Hospital—I don’t know, how about healthcare for one.  You certainly want a hospital when you are sick.  And I will bet there are a heck of a lot os New Haveners working there and benefiting from it.  unreal!

posted by: Pat from Westville on March 26, 2014  12:00pm

What’s sad about this “discussion” is that the usual suspects have high-jacked it away from the article’s subject, improving the city’s transit, in favor of predictable rants on subjects only REMOTELY related. Just seeing your screen names gives a good idea of your favorite hobby horses. Particularly Mr. “My-Glass-is-not-even-half-empty-but-totally empty” who seems to have totally diverted off topic. I count only 7 of the current 30 comments that are on topic.

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