That’s It?

Wikimedia CommonsThe New Haven Green has received a million-dollar grant for “infrastructure upgrades” from the cash-strapped state (to which the city’s adding another $500,000).

First response: Yahoo!

The second response, after letting the news sink in a little: that’s a relatively small amount of money considering what could be done with the space.

Originally, there was talk from the city of adding better access to power and a better stage, as so many public events take place there throughout the year. In the summer, concerts and the Festival of Arts & Ideas entertain thousands. New beginning-of-autumn celebrations like the New Haven Grand Prix transform the space into a hub of organized chaos. 

That isn’t a universally shared want, though. Those who use the Green most frequently are begging for more lighting, better bus distribution and other aspects more closely related to safety than festivities.

And indeed, the use of money for fun on the Green is fraught with potential misfires. There have been more people hustling for drug sales and using the churches as toilets, suggesting that clean, safe public bathrooms might be an important investment. There’s also a general sense of lessened safety, which points to the need for increased lighting.

At a meeting with the city, several local stakeholders —  Trinity Church patrons like myself, business owners, those who live next door, and several Arts & Ideas devotees —  aired all of those concerns, looking at the Green’s many personalities: park, piazza, place of worship, place of crime.

Money makes for clarity: the city will tell us where they come down on some basic needs: Greater safety? Greater Support of the Arts? Greater Care for our Historic Center of the Nine Squares.

To listen to a full commentary on the topic, from WNHH radio’s “Design Czar” series, click on or download the audio above.


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posted by: Adelaide on March 24, 2016  12:23pm

Is there a point of any of this unless the place is clean, drug and alcohol free and safe?? Why support arts even more if the place is filthy, laden with addicts and drunks and bus riders who can’t stay in one place for very long without being accosted?? Not to mention nowhere to sit because ALL of the benches are full of addicts, drunks, drug peddlers and those just waiting for the library to open up so they can sleep it off in there!

posted by: TheMadcap on March 24, 2016  12:33pm

In case anyone forgot here’s the original plan for the green from a year or 2 ago that is never going to come to fruition  11/New-Haven-Green-Placemaking-Plan-v2.pdf
(remove the space in the link)

posted by: HewNaven on March 24, 2016  1:21pm


Great link!

I love on page 5, where it shows the old location of the “whipping post”. I think we should bring that back!

posted by: jim1 on March 24, 2016  1:46pm

Adelaide Call Wendy1 again lost your #  Thanks

posted by: Renewhavener on March 24, 2016  2:16pm

@Adelaide, am surprised at this stance having read so many of your comments.  Would have expected if not more mercy than perhaps more of a pass given to this population.

@Madcap, thank you for this link.  Appreciate the report’s depth and references to domestic parks, but felt the European examples are misplaced guideposts.

Agree to some extent Duo that it has lost its way and agree fully it is a mirror reflection on our priorities overall.  We seem all too willing to accept interacting virtually, but not in person.  The Green, like our civil discord, suffers from this atrophy.

The Green is a unique gift, but think we all have a tendency to sort of coddle it to some extent.  We may want to suspend, or at a minimum curb, the overwhelming urge to respect and preserve.  It needs more use.  Whatever intervention prompts its maximum utility should be encouraged.  Perhaps Harp should be giving press conferences there not in the structured and sanitized innards of City Hall.  Trinity, Center and United might consider holding mass outside on occasion.  Why isn’t Yale, Southern or Gateway’s Commencement here?  There really ought to be something meaningful happening there everyday. 

Lights, perhaps, but feel all the institutions on and around the Green, private and public alike, should be towing their own weight to illuminate it from around, from within and most importantly brightening it with their physical presence.

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on March 24, 2016  3:04pm

Ahhh thanks for sharing the link, TheMadcap. Great stuff in there. I would love to see more activities on the Green, various sitting areas, moving the Green more towards a Central Park-like location with small attractions which do not detract from the overall beauty of the Green.

Though given this was proposed in 2012… it doesn’t appear to be in any particular rush forward. Still good to see a vision for the future. If New Haven continues to grow and young professionals continue to grow the tax base and businesses, perhaps funding can increase in the future.

If, of course, the Proprietors of the Green, allow it.

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on March 24, 2016  3:07pm

I also posted a recent blog piece about why I think we should Free the Green and allow some more commerce on there:

posted by: Renewhavener on March 24, 2016  7:25pm

@JL, amused by aspects of your blog post, but honestly do not believe Professor Days should have to bear comparison to Lenny, Carl, Chief Wiggum or other members of the Stonecutters:

Agree with you in concept, but would prefer expanded commercial use of the green to be at least in proportion if not slightly less in proportion to an increased amount of non-commercial civic use thought they are not mutually exclusive either.

Saw a nice mix of commercial / civic at Forsyth Park in Savanna last year.  Sort of cafe begetting playground, etc, though it is twice the size of our Green and cannot claim to have experienced it at night.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on March 24, 2016  7:44pm


Honestly, they are doing a lousy job, and their claim of being in charge of the Green prevents more civic-minded leaders from getting involved.

Stewardship of our public square should involve something more than egotistical boasts of ownership. I mean fundraising for capital projects should be a relatively easy task, if you wanted to involve others in the planning and responsibility.

Honestly, Anne Calabresi ought to be embarrassed. But of course she doesn’t even live in New Haven!

posted by: wendy1 on March 24, 2016  8:52pm

That 1 and 1/2 million should be spent on housing the homeless.  The Green can wait.  We are lucky it’s still green.
Aside from summer concerts and the Xmas tree, the majority of people actually using the green are homeless men, women, and teens—-all the desperate humans I am trying to help.  As Adelaide made clear, this should be the goal, the focus.  Yale,  Nemerson, Toni, and the city govt act like these are “invisible men”.
Any added clutter or project will only look pathetic and mean as it’s swallowed up by homeless and hungry humans.
Remember when Yale got Occupy kicked out before their graduation parade 2 years ago???  I am surprised that Yale still uses the green at all….that they wouldn’t just prefer to lock all of us rabble out of their celebration altogether.  They could purchase all the sidewalks.  They could build a bigger fence.  They could dome over their school so the parents couldn’t see the poor people.

posted by: Renewhavener on March 24, 2016  8:59pm

@ATP, Do you know anything about the institution or the person you are calling out?  The human person, Anna Calabresi?  Whether you do or not, it’s not about them.  It’s about the place.