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Harp Revives ‘80s Development Crew
by Paul Bass | Oct 2, 2013 2:06 pm
Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Campaign 2013
Democratic mayoral candidate Toni Harp revealed her economic development vision Wednesday—surrounded by some familiar faces.
The faces were especially familiar to people who experienced the development policies of another mayor: Not John DeStefano. Not John Daniels, the mayor before him. But the late Mayor Biagio “Ben” DiLieto, who ran New Haven in the 1980s.
New Haven went through a development boom in those years. Four of the people who took a leading part in high-profile development deals at the time, or helped DiLieto chart his development strategy, resurfaced to surround Harp at the head of a sixth-floor conference room table Wednesday morning.
They showed up to help Harp unveil a 10-point economic development plan for the city. Harp is running for mayor against independent Justin Elicker in the Nov. 5 general election.
The 10-point plan is full of specific ideas, such as urging Metro-North to institute a one-hour express train to New York, extending the bike- and pedestrian-friendly “Complete Streets” program to more neighborhoods, opening walk-in and mobile “small business centers” as well as a “‘one-stop-shop small-business incubator” geared to women and minority-owned businesses; and opening city jobs to New Haven Works participants.
Click here to read the whole plan.
The plan also calls for “appointing an advisory committee to work with prospective developers to include local businesses in their plans, and encourage partnerships between major investment groups and local developers.” In response to a question Wednesday, Harp said that would not mean a replay of the efforts of the DeStefano administration to require international bidders on the prospective (and never-built) Long Wharf mall project to hire the Fusco Corporation (major mayor campaign donors and fundraisers) as a partner. She said she would pursue a “non-prescriptive” policy of generally encouraging local involvement in development projects. (Click on the video at the top of the story to watch her remarks.)
The event highlighted not just the specifics of the plan, but the people who put it together. They were assembled around Harp in a conference room of the Granite Square project at the corner of Audubon and State streets. Harp used the event to present the 22-member team she put together to help her chart economic development policy.
She said she brought together leading business minds of different points of view. “We need to work with the brightest and the best,” she said.
Four key members sat beside her at the front of the room:
• Matthew Nemerson, a co-chair of the committee. At Wednesday’s event, Nemerson detailed Harp’s development plan in a PowerPoint presentation. Nemerson ran the Chamber of Commerce in the 1980s and 1990s. Before that, he helped found Science Park. He currently chairs the city’s parking authority. Nemerson ran for mayor earlier this year, then dropped out of the race to endorse Harp and serve as one of her campaign co-chairs. He is a leading candidate to serve as the city’s next development administrator if Harp wins the mayoral election.
• Barbara Pearce, Harp’s other committee co-chair. She heads Pearce Real Estate, developers of the successful Whitney-Grove office building and townhouses during the DiLieto era. Pearce was an influential voice on development during the DiLieto era. She has served on, and led, the boards of many civic organizations since then, from Long Wharf Theatre to the Chamber of Commerce.
• Mark Sklarz, who developed the Granite Square project along with Starter Sportswear founder David Beckerman. The deal for the project was struck during the DiLieto administration. It included a 25-year (which turned into a 27-year) parking subsidy, which led to taxpayers paying for empty parking spaces at the building for years.
• Anthony Avallone, a former state senator who left office in 1992 after years of scandals involving his conflicting roles as zoning attorney, legislator, development commissioner, and developer. He developed a lucrative, go-to zoning practice during the DiLieto ‘80s, regularly appearing before the zoning board to win clients relief at the same time he served as both a state senator and city development commissioner. The administration gave him and a team of fellow politically connected developers a tax break on a development project in the Hill that Avallone simultaneously had to vote on as a development commissioner. He represented developers in disputes with his state senate constituents; he also was hired by banks to evict tenants who happened to be his constituents.
Harp’s team includes new faces on New Haven’s business scene as well, such as up-and-coming Realtor Roberta Hoskie, Newhallville inventor Fitz Walker, UNITE/HERE researcher Mandi Jackson, and limo-service owner and idea-popping city development commissioner Antoine Scott. Others on the committee include CEO Michael Giordano of Giordano Construction Company of Branford and Michael Barbaro of the New Haven Realtors Association.
Her campaign has emphasized her longstanding ties to different constituencies in New Haven, portraying her as the candidate better able to bring all parts of New Haven together in order to govern.
After the press event Wednesday, Nemerson spoke about the Granite Square garage as an example of how development ideas evolve as times change.
The Granite Square deal was struck in the late 1980s.
To lure Sklarz and Beckerman to build the (eventual) two Granite Square glass office towers on top of State Street surface lot, the city offered taxpayer sweeteners, a common practice in the DiLieto ‘80s. The city agreed to pay for much of the parking for a quarter century. It agreed to pay 43 percent of the developers’ mortgage to build the garage (the mortgage was refinanced at $8.9 million two years into the project, in 1990); and to pay on top of that to lease and run the garage, in effect guaranteeing that the developers would make money on the parking spaces whether or not anyone ever parked there.
For years hardly anyone parked there. The developers got their money; the parking authority ate the cost. Today most of the spaces are filled.
The parking authority’s lease expires on March 31, 2015, at which point the mortgage will be fully paid. The authority’s annual payments have varied; it paid $625,276 in total expenses for the garage in fiscal year 2013, according to Chief Financial Officer Brian Seholm.
Nemerson argued Wednesday that the deal made sense at the time. City officials felt they needed to preserve the parking that would disappear when the new building went up on surface lots. So it subsidized the developer’s costs for those spots in the new garage.
On top of that, Nemerson said, the city wanted to induce developers to build in the city. That’s why officials agreed to cover the cost of the developers’ clients’ parking as well.
As it turned out, the city didn’t need those lost parking spaces after all. Other parking was built nearby. And a recession hit the city.
Fast forward to 2013. The DeStefano administration has taken a different approach to parking: Rather than subsidizing parking spots, it is encouraging developers to build less parking that required by zoning laws. The idea is to build a denser city more reliant on walkers and cyclists and users of mass transit. That fits into a larger current trend toward “new urbanism.” Read about that debate here and here.
Nemerson (pictured speaking with the Register’s Mary O’Leary) said Wednesday he agrees with that new approach. He noted that the cost of building a parking space has increased from around $10,000 to $35,000 over recent decades. He noted that the 360 State Street parking garage has empty spaces.
“If a building doesn’t create enough demand for people to pay for parking spaces,” he now declared, then it doesn’t make sense to pass along to taxpayers the cost of building them.
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Do we really want to go back to 1980s ideas about waterfront development?
Senator Harp’s development statement is very weak compared to Elicker’s 75 solutions - and it’s also quite difficult to believe that it was written by her, given her many odd statements about development at the various debates over the past year.
For example, her comments about fitting more cars into downtown, and her claiming support for slower speed limits (something most other cities are doing) at one debate and then refusing to consider them when interviewed a couple weeks later on the same question by the New Haven Independent.
Also, where is Mr. Brancati in the picture here? He was key to Nemerson’s campaign, which folded into Harp’s.
An outstanding Development Blueprint, and an outstanding team of individuals with knowledge of what New Haven needs. The only way New haven will truly address its fiscal issues is by new development and attracting new residents to the mix. New Haven needs to adopt policies that will inspire confidence in the people charged with making investment decisions. Regardless how well intentioned Elicker is, he has no development experience, and little track record to inspire.
After reading the linked detailed plan, which sounds impressive, however after through reading, the plan starts out as a vision of the Economic Development commission, then turns quickly into a Toni Harp Campaign pledge announcement. The plan lacks originality, incorporates many of the Destefano initiatives focused on downtown to be the economic driver.
The plan lacks stated goals, objectives and timetables.
Simply to outline a vision without lying out the means to pay for such an endeavor leaves the reader yearning for hard substance.
To announce a feeder system for the job pipeline is reinventing the existing clog and pandering to the unions. Jobs for the lower wage earner in support of downtown projects have been sold as a faux paux for years by the Destefano administration.
Bringing back the players from the 80’s that helped with the Grove street parking lot, subsidized by the city taxpayer for 30 years, adds little and is not a brilliant strategy to repeat that project.
While I hoped for more out of this imitative, my conclusion is that for the afore-mentioned reasons, this plan is not a plan at all.
Back to the drawing board, develop goals, objectives, strategies, and timelines and define how it will be paid for by taxpayers.
I would agree Toni has the ability to bring state and federal kingmakers to the table, the question remains; what does New Haven have left to contribute after Destefano leaves the cupboard bare?
“Anthony Avallone, a former state senator who left office in 1992 after years of scandals involving his conflicting roles as zoning attorney, legislator, development commissioner, and developer. He developed a lucrative, go-to zoning practice during the DiLieto ‘80s, regularly appearing before the zoning board to win clients relief at the same time he served as both a state senator and city development commissioner. The administration gave him and a team of fellow politically connected developers a tax break on a development project in the Hill that Avallone simultaneously had to vote on as a development commissioner. He represented developers in disputes with his state senate constituents; he also was hired by banks to evict tenants who happened to be his constituents.”
YUCK! How disgusting! This is NOT the kind of experience we need RAZZIE.
So let me get this straight. Harp gathers a team of significant players during one of the most scandal ridden decades in recent history, in the ugliest and most questionably financed building in New Haven history, and then cherry picks Justin Elicker’s platform to sweeten her own vaguely bitter platform?
I can not help myself so forgive me but….
Lets see what else they will be reviving from the 1980’s
New Havens famous beat down possie?
Talking like a valley girl
Spandex and big hair
Rat Tails and Mullets
Members Only Jackets
GIANT shoulder pads
New Kids on the Block
go team harp!
Robn: Exactly. And that’s without even mentioning Brancati, the economic development “ringleader” who starred in Nemerson’s campaign this past spring. Brancati was so problematic that DeStefano had to refund his donations in 2001.
Among today’s emails was an article about Boston approving new housing with zero parking spaces. Interesting in light of NH’s continuing car-centric planning.
I’m glad to see a candidate put out a thorough plan/vision for New Haven’s economy and future growth. New Haven will need a lot of work but this demonstrates Senator Harp’s ability to bring people together and act like a leader. Putting real solutions forward and allowing the people to judge her on what she plans to do. It’s nice to see this side of her as well.
This is not a team. It is a group of rich politically connected people who are millionaires thanks to politicians.
While I haven’t decided who I am voting for yet, I do appreciate Paul Bass’ sense of our history in this reporting. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” - George Santayana.
The one hour express train idea is THE single most ridiculous thing to come out of Toni’s mouth during this campaign. A quick look at timetables would have shown her that even the Acela high speed trains can only make it to Grand Central in about 1.5 hours. Its not physically possible on our existing train tracks that dodge and swerve every 200 feet. Are there ANY Harp supporters that might be embarrassed by this abhorrent lack of basic knowledge about our infrastructure?
I had occasion elsewhere in these columns today to bemoan the same old, same old, in New Haven. Now comes this article. It is so very, very depressing.
Union backers want to present the Harp candidacy as some sort of shining new day. And then she trots out, of all people, Anthony Avallone. And Nemerson, who is in league with Brancati.
Ben DiLieto is doing somersaults of joy in his grave. New Haven is bracing for stagnation instead of moving forward into the 21st century.
I want to hear more about Toni Harp’s “particular” action plan to,
“Work with the Cooperative Development Institute to provide business education, training, and technical assistance to promote cooperative economic growth.”
I think it’s her best idea yet.
I’ll admit Harp has put together a decent proposal, but overall its pretty vague on implementation. Elicker, on the other hand, has some very specific ideas, as well as the general vision that Harp has put forth here. And, it seems like many of Harp’s “ideas” were lifted directly of the Elicker website. I think its a good sign that his 75 ideas are framing the conversation.
posted by: Razzie on October 2, 2013 3:56pm
An outstanding Development Blueprint, and an outstanding team of individuals with knowledge of what New Haven needs.
New York had the same blueprint.Look what happen.
City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York
By Wayne Barrett
Offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Koch administration and the New York City political machine, profiling the personalities involved in the many scandalous events.
Out of this team of twenty-two, how many actually live in New Haven, vs. coming here to make money?
Harp’s idea of an economic plan is to bring back a bunch of people who did shady deals in the 80s? It’s so… forward-looking, fresh and unexpected. I am especially impressed by Anthony Avallone: I definitely want this guy making decisions for my city after his stellar career.
\end of irony. This is sad beyond belief: people will still be voting for Harp because she is “just like them.”
“A quick look at timetables would have shown her that even the Acela high speed trains can only make it to Grand Central in about 1.5 hours. Its not physically possible on our existing train tracks that dodge and swerve every 200 feet.”
What robn is missing is that this is exactly the point.
New Haven has zero to say and no real leverage to get this done. All the city can do is advocate for a particular outcome. And the narrower, the better.
This is really a very savvy and elegant position.
Strange so much in negative points of view about the current New Haven, as if all anyone did before the arrival of this election, to improve New Haven in the past, created no progress. Looking at downtown New Haven now, versus 25 years ago, it is very different. Starting with the drive in at Church St, and Gateway College. Then into the Ninth Square area, upper Chapel St, onto Broadway, and the expansion of the Yale Campus. Anyone who has been part of this historic transformation, regardless of who they support in this election deserves respect. But I guess one would have to have worked and lived here to fully appreciate the dedication, work, determination, the ability to work with other’s (from all walks of life), and above all being more focused on bringing New Haven back, than getting noticed by the press. In truth the improvement is quite remarkable, and if one were to do some comparisons with other mid-sized cities in the Northeast and the country during this same time frame, New Haven is very high on the list for most improved.
The fact that many writing here, who are in support of Elicker, only see bad in New Haven shows a complete understanding of what has occurred, and those that worked to make this happen. I’m sure Paul Bass remembers what it was like at the Advocate office on upper Chapel St, near Howe St, 25 years ago. If he believes nothing good has happened and all that is left of New Haven is a horrible abyss lending everyone to seek a Messiah I would have to question his motivation.
Again, beware false prophets, and their supporters who were not there, do not get down to ground level and do the work, and are just motivated by their own agenda’s, which not one of them will announce clearly, as it would be hard to trust them.
That ringing sound is the 80’s calling, and here is what else they want back:
1) the crack epidemic
2) widespread organized gangs
3) Richard C. Lee High School
4) a mall downtown
5) colonial bank
6) the coliseum
7) jay’s Tees in the mall (I need my personalized t shirts)
8) high top fades
10) Toni Harp as an alderwoman, before she became a union pawn.
Anthony Avallone? He is, without question, one of the shadiest characters in the history of New Haven politics. Just what we need, ideas from 30 years ago, before the Internet, before the cell phone, before widespread personal computers. Perhaps someone should apprise the Harp campaign of this new invention called electronic mail, email for short. Incredible.
No smart, young and eager people in this crew? No infusion of new ideas, energy and eagerness? All much older, largely white men. What? Why?
Electroshock Therapy Notes:
1. Old, tired, stale, retread.
2. Bad development deals are always bad development deals. They don’t become bad ones over 25 years. That garage stinks. Rent To Own is a better deal than that one.
3. Putting jumper cables on this group and their ideas doesn’t make it start or run any better and will likely mean taxpayers will need our own set of cables if it happens.
4. The train idea is not feasible at any level. Why was this included?
5. If this is really Toni Harp’s idea, why didn’t she present it?
So savvy and elegance can defy the laws of physics? I don’t think so. The number of people voting for this ridiculously unfullfillable political promise is indicative of the LACK of substance in her campaign and her overwhelming reliance on IDENTITY politics.
Granted her campaign has been of the solidly sucky sort, but this commonly communicated criticism that Harp lacks a plan is semi baffling. To be sure she’s less polished than one might expect a politician to be. She may not be the poised, polished, pithy White Male ever-equipped with glossy bullet points and sound bites. But do debating skills equate to governing skills?
While none of the candidates are ideal, I would prefer someone whose vision comes from actual (working, living, governing) experience; whose interactions with diverse stakeholders motivates her to prioritize the most urgent issues (employment, child care and education, safety through community policing and economic revitalization in all neighborhoods not just downtown/Yale, chances for our youth to play, learn, and work safely and productively), and whose plan (bring all stakeholders together, ensure all communities have a voice, govern collaboratively) comes out of decades of public and social service primarily focused on the needs of poor and working people; and whose policies will be implemented collaboratively with input from many.
Elicker can produce all the sound bites and white papers and hashtags and hyperlinks he wants, but he’ll never be able to effectively govern a city like New Haven. East Rock is one thing. Lifting bright, shiny prefabricated policies out of thin air without bothering to talk to the actual people whose lives will be impacted by said policies does not effective governance (let alone “progressive reform”!? what!??) make. Even technocrats have to be able to collaborate and build teams at some point. How will Elicker do that if he can’t (or won’t) even talk to his colleagues (well, except that other Yalie White Male)?
I think the 1-hour express train to NYC is a brilliant idea. I remember when they talked about the bullet train that was going to make it a 50-55 min. trip to NY. It is a great goal to focus on to really bring us into NY’s economic sphere. Should be part of connecting our beautful train station into the flow of downtown. Sorry cabbies, but you shouldn’t have to take a taxi to go downtown. The other priorities should be the waterfront, the waterfront and the waterfront. The boathouse is a good start, but we need a real park down there. The harbor is the reason why there’s a city here- it’s time to reclaim our harbor as so many reborn cities have.
@WeR1nhv, your list of preferences sounds like an advertisement for Justin Elicker! (Well, except for the angry “white male” attacks. Not sure how attacking someone’s race advances anything.) Toni has been in Hartford, not in the trenches here with us like Justin. It’s impossible to get a meeting with her. She leaves the debates the minute they are over. She lives in a mansion in one of the wealthiest sections of New Haven. On the contrary, Justin owns a multi-family home and lives in one of the three apartments. More importantly, he has been there for us in Fair Haven and Cedar Hill and East Rock, working collaboratively with neighbors to solve all kinds of practical issues and improve quality of life. That’s not soundbites or shady 80s developers speaking on his behalf. It’s real experience from which all of New Haven will benefit.
However unworkable it might be, the express train directly to NYC is the one idea Sen. Harp has had that I actually like.
I note how WeR1nhv engages identity politics, and does not even bother to use code.
Sorry again I can not help myself, sorry in advance.
Totally gutting. Seems like Toni and her 80’s crew are hell-bent on stagnating our City as a whole.
Also, I am all for better mass transit but a 1hr train? Is she planning on building a new track with money gifted to her by her connections in Hartford and construction company donors from everywhere but New Haven? That is about the only way this would work. Also, there is already about a 90 minute train to NYC on most days. When is the last time Toni’s been on a train? She would realize immediately that it is an untenable idea if she had—the tracks and congestion won’t allow for it.
Residence and Source of Funds Check:
Hoskie- Hamden (real estate sales)
Pierce-Guilford (makes money selling real estate)
Sklarz-Woodbridge (makes money representing developers)
Jackson-Hamden (Unite Here Insider—DC lobbyist)
Giordano-Branford (makes living on city construction projects)
Are these folks concerned New haven’s future? or about New Haven’s future as seen through the lens of suburbanites and people who profit off New Haven but do not live here?
Not a tough question. Wake up New Haven. We desperately need clean transparent government—by the people for the people—New Haven people that is.
One hour rail travel time between New Haven Union Station and Grand Central Terminal (or Penn Stations) is not possible with the existing rail infrastructure, both because (as mentioned in other comments) the tracks follow shoreline development from over a century ago and have many curves and because of the high density of traffic (both Amtrak and Metro-North share most of the track). The fastest early morning “super express” run with just a few station stops is still over 90 minutes.
The more I read this plan.The more I see is real estate vampires and economic development vampires taking over. Under this plan New Haven Like New York City and other municipalities will be owned- lock, stock and barrel by real estate developers, and big corporations.I am reading a book call the End of the Suburbs.The book talks about how the people of the suburbs are moving back to the urban areas.All one has to do is look at the number of people who are moving from the suburbs to Harlem and Brooklyn New York.Get ready New Haven the real estate vampires and economic development vampires are geting ready to taking over.
The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving Hardcover
by Leigh Gallagher (Author)
posted by: Josh Levinson on October 3, 2013 10:27am
Wait, Elicker’s been “in the trenches?” He’s an East Rock Alderman. I’m pretty sure I had more experience running a city than he does. I know people don’t want to believe it, but running a city requires a level of political savvy which I am not entirely sure Elicker has, and he certainly hasn’t proven in his extremely limited experience.
I’m not necessarily saying Harp is the better candidate, but the notion that Elicker is somehow more representative of New Haven than Harp, who has served as a New Haven alderman before and lived in New Haven for 25 years, is utterly ridiculous and the comments here need to put down the pom poms for a second and get real. If you want to criticize her policies, go ahead, but please, there’s no need to misrepresent and lie about her.
I don’t see the point of the poll concerning the “Fantasy Express.” Might as well ask if NH should buy a time-travel machine so residents might visit the past. Acela schedule is 1 hour, 29 minutes. Fastest train available, and safest train designed for high speed. Until Acela shaves off half an hour, nothing else will speed up at all. I’ve read the Amtrak long-term plan, and this is one of the reasons that they want to bypass NH and run Boston-Danbury-NYC on a new high-speed-only line.
Still waiting for Justin to repudiate the political and economic policy positions of his former boss—George W. Bush. No wonder the Elicker people are so averse to appreciating history on the local and national scene. It works better for them if we just forget about Justin’s contribution to the most corrupt Republican administration in history.
@Josh Levinson, Elicker has been in the trenches with me and my neighbors and I don’t live in East Rock. I’ve also observed extraordinary political savvy through his work on the BoA, in achieving results for the diverse neighborhoods he represents, and in his campaign. A grassroots perspective with real political abilities is a rare combination and I hope that New Haven seizes this opportunity. How quickly we forget that Elicker beat another candidate, Fernandez, who started the race with much wider name recognition and outspent him by over $100,000. What matters to me is what he’s done in New Haven, not how long he’s been here. And I’m impressed. He has my vote.
Toni Harp is acting as though she already won the election. I hope the Republican Party (oh I forgot there is no Republican Party in New Haven) Independent Party can nominate a qualified candidate to oppose her. I do like her idea of a 1hr express train to NYC from New Haven. I’d also like to see reasonable parking rates at the train station. I go to NYC from Bridgeport and only pay $6.00 for the day. New Haven is $16.00 if you can find a space.
No no…Harps plan is perfectly reasonable. Since everyone knows what our existing rail infrastructure actually is (slow coastal lines geographically hemmed in by the most expensive real estate in the world which will NEVER be ceded through eminent domain) she certainly plans a completely new high speed rail line elsewhere which, gathering from California’s recent experience is a minimum of $10M per mile, bringing the total cost of shaving a half hour off of the trip to $750,000,000. Perfectly reasonable.
Still waiting for Razzie to comprehend the difference between “Political Appointee” and “Career Civil Servant.”
robn - doesn’t Acela stop in either Bridgeport or Stamford though? Plus another good 5 minutes to reach Penn Station as it’s a SLOW approach.
An hour seems ambitious, but if it skips ALL stops including Harlem - 70 minutes is totally doable (average 60MPH).
How many of these Harp economic advisers actually live in New Haven? Or do they just want to play Monopoly on New Haven’s board?
@Razzie, your repeated attempts to link Elicker with George Bush are honestly hysterical! Just because someone works for the government during the presidential term of the other party does not mean they are members of that president’s party. Do you think all Republicans go unemployed when there is a Democratic president (and vice versa)? Give NHI readers a little bit of credit.
By Razzie’s reasoning, my God Mother is a right villain, after all she was in the CIA under Bush the Younger (and Clinton, Bush the Elder, Ragan, Carter, Ford, and I think Nixon), and at a much higher GS level than Justin Elicker. So it follows that she must approval his (their) policies. Some of us might doubt this, as she was a whistle blower.
I have another idea: Razzie could set some hoops up along the street, point a video camera at them, and make a YouTube video of Justin jumping through them.
In the mean time, like A Contrarian, I am waiting for her to grasp he difference between “Political Appointee” and “Career Civil Servant.”
Stylo, subtract 15 minutes from 1 hour 30, and we have a 75 minute ride, so yes, we could theoretically have a direct service to New York. Not sure where the money is going to come from. We seam to be struggling to buy new—conventional—train sets as it is.
Its not my experience that the approach to one station is slower than the other. Both are in midtown, they’re both subterranean and both require trains to slow down during approach (about the same as far as I can tell.) The NH-NY Acela express stops in Stamford and in my limited experience, only holds the train for about 60-90 seconds. The Acela is capable of reaching 150 mph but can’t on this route; if they could, they would.
As a proposal that might actually happen, I’d like to see all or almost all trains begin/end at State Street Station.
posted by: Jones Gore on October 3, 2013 12:36pm
@Robin…the Amtrak does not go to Grand Central Terminal. It goes to Penn Station on the west side.
And it takes Amtrak 1hr 29mins from Penn to Union. Metro can only cut 30 mins off the travel if it did an express.
Three-fifths is mistaken to believe big development will only be pushed by a Harp administration. Elicker relies on the same solution to the city’s financial problems.
Since no candidate would promise not to use eminent domain for redevelopment purposes (a/k/a increasing the tax base), whoever is elected is counting on the same failed strategy in place for decades.
No candidate has expressed an interest in looking at the tax structure, re-visiting and updating the Revenue Commission Report from 1985 and eliminating subsidies to wealthy non-profits (a/k/a Yale Corporation and Yale-New Haven Hospital et al) by demanding they pay their fair share of taxes like other residents.
Whoever is Mayor will get out the begging bowl and approach the Legislature with a fresh (?) demand for an increased Payment in Lieu of Taxes (that WE all fund!), have tea with Pres. Salovey, who will promise to do more for New Haven (as long as it doesn’t cost anything substantial), continue to squeeze the residents on property taxes and any stone left unturned, while acting like the characters in the “Emperor’s New Clothes” and refusing to acknowledge that the emperor is naked, i.e. the City continues to be exploited by the multi-national billionaire corporations among us.
So don’t be distracted by a dream of a one hour trip to NYC.
Listen to the periodic gun shots in our persistently poor neighborhoods. It’s the sound of people without options.
It’s the sound that the people living in a bubble downtown don’t want to hear and choose not to solve.
I understand where the various trains go. What I’m pointing out is that they have fundamentally the same routes and lengths and the Acela Express can just make it in 1.5 hours. That’s a 50 mph average for a 75 mile trip for a train capable of traveling 150 mph. Why am I taking time to explain this? Because of Toni Harp’s lack of knowledge / demagoguery.
I think economic development is a better way forward than simply “take Yale’s money.” And it’s more than tiresome to hear the oft-repeated lie in these comments that “Yale pays no taxes.”
Might the editor post the actual amount Yale does pay on its commercial property?
And really, the nonprofit issue is not a local or state one. If tax policy is to change, it will be nationally. ALL colleges & universities. ALL hospitals. ALL museums, opera companies, theaters… And ALL churches—Roman Catholic as well as the Black Churches, Synagogues & Mosques…
Contrarian: What’s wrong with Yale’s tax money? It’s as good as mine.
We don’t need to change national policy because Yale’s special status is a matter of CT law. It’s special status dates to colonial times and should be updated. You can check out the history on Yale’s own website.
The 1985 Commission Report recommended a base above which taxation of all property, real and personal, would be taxed at regular rates. I wish I had such a deal!
And what’s so special about paying on one’s commercial property any how? Isn’t it the law???
robn’s enthusiasm for Elicker’s candidacy is very clear.
We’re not discussing laws of physics, of course. The track, as someone has pointed out, is not currently prepared to carry high speed trains. But, as recent events demonstrate, a lot of work needs to be done on this segment.
Also, while there is a hypothetical alternative where a high speed train would bypass Hartford & New Haven, this effectively means bypassing Connecticut. So there is little support for that. By contrast, the state has quite a bit to gain by increasing speed between Grand Central and New Haven, and the federal DOT is already investing heavily in improving the run between New Haven and Springfield.
In other words, if New Haven were 60 minutes from GCT, it would fit very well with a lot of larger plans and investments already underway or being contemplated, and that have a great deal of political and economic rationale outside of New Haven.
The economic benefits would be regional, meaning both the greater New Haven area, and right up the corridor to Hartford, Bradley, and Springfield / western Massachussetts.
For a bit of, um, perspective, the ride on the 5 train from Eastchester, NY to GCT is 42 minutes. The trip from GCT to Hicksville, Long Island is about 60 minutes. Suffern, NJ on the LIRR to Penn Station is about 52 minutes.
If you are going to hurl accusations of ignorance, you’d best be sure you’ve got your own facts straight.
I don’t understand who thought it was a good idea to surround Toni Harp with the likes of Tony Avallone. Out with the old and in with the . . . older? Folks are waiting to see who Harp will empower after she’s elected and no one is impressed with what they’re seeing. Where’s the new energy and ideas? The neighborhood-centered economic development strategy? I’ve read Elicker’s 75 points and they read like the naive musings of a 19 year old who just took his first urban studies class . . . Harp doesn’t have to do much here to compete intellectually but she’s letting Elicker run away with the ideas game.
Jason Bartlett should be fired. Hire New Haven’ers to run New Haven campaigns—the out-of-towners don’t have a clue. Why isn’t Hugh Baran running this one? Harp’s a smart, able candidate with a crappy campaign manager (not that it will matter, her campaign stinks on media and public profile but will dominate on voter mobilization thanks—or no thanks, depending on your stance—to UNITE HERE).
Capacity utilization is already greater than 75% in the vicinity of Bridgeport, Stamford, and New Rochelle stations and along the three‐track section between New Haven and Devon. By 2030, capacity utilization at these locations, along with virtually all of the Main Line between Stamford and New Rochelle will be over 100%.
The four movable bridges that have not yet been addressed are beyond their useful life and in need of rehabilitation or replacement. Existing signal and catenary systems prohibit speeds needed to meet proposed intercity service levels and trip goals.
Heavy train traffic and sharp track curvature also affect operating speeds and capacity. Amtrak is limited to two trips per hour through the segment under an agreement with Metro‐North. Grade separations at the Waterbury, Danbury, and New Canaan branch junctions may be needed as service levels increase.
Part II: Current and Future Service and Infrastructure by Segment
A potential grade‐separated junction (or “flyover”) would allow Amtrak trains to bypass conflicting movements at New Rochelle, NY, between Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line and the Metro‐North’s New Haven Line to Grand Central Terminal. This junction is one of the busiest on the Northeast Corridor, with traffic levels exceeding 265 trains per average weekday currently with that number expected to grow to more than 455 trains per day by 2030. This project was recommended under the Northeast Corridor Transportation Plan – New York to Boston, published in 1994, prior to a major program of improvements leading to introduction Acela high‐speed service from Boston to Washington in 2002. However, the project was scaled‐back due to budgetary constraints in the late 1990’s to an “at‐grade” (or non‐elevated) configuration which was recently completed. FRA staff have recommended inclusion of the flyover project in the Master Plan.
“For a bit of, um, perspective, the ride on the 5 train from Eastchester, NY to GCT is 42 minutes. The trip from GCT to Hicksville, Long Island is about 60 minutes. Suffern, NJ on the LIRR to Penn Station is about 52 minutes.”
I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the above.
The distance between New Haven Union and GCT is about 75 miles and takes between 90 ~ 110 minutes.
Eastchester and Hicksville are approx. 25 and 30 miles from GCT, respectively, and Suffern to NY Penn is roughly 35 miles. The are all less than half the distance between New Haven and NY, and proportionally, are slightly slower than the New Haven Line.
There is no doubt that Metro North / Amtrak have made incremental improvements to service / commuting times over the years, however halving the commute time for such a small segment of the commuter population* seems unlikely in the near future given the infrastructure requirements. Even beyond the rails, the additional parking & traffic needs for Union Station alone would be tremendous if this service could be implemented.
*Does anybody know where to find recent ridership statistics by station?
Some MTA Ridership info:
It does come down to physics (as in reality…the actual physical world we live in). Wishing curvaceous (slow) train tracks to be straight (fast) doesn’t mean its possible.
What’s once again shocking to me is that Harp brings up something ridiculous when she could have said almost the exact same thing and sounded sensible. The New Haven Springfield commuter line underway is physically possible and will be far more meaningful to New Haven in economic terms. She could have said “hey I voted for it!” and I would have only positive things to say about it because its money well spent.
Harp has shown time and again that she just does not know her facts or has done the homework.
Being Mayor of a major small American City is less of a mouthpiece job than being at the State.
Harp’s background is in public health (Yale MPH) and social services (advocate for homeless health). Which is admirable and necessary. She has, to my knowledge,very little experience in the theory or practice of urban economic development. She has experience in how to lobby for funds to provide social services. The cabal of urban developers around her speaks to her lack of creative vision.
I do not live in New Haven. I’ve followed Toni Harp’s career at the state capitol ever since she became Co-Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. During her tenure she has done SERIOUS damage to my pocketbook. If her past is any indication of what she will do for New Haven, I have one word of advise. Residents watch your wallet, she’ll pick it clean. It’s too bad she has no opposition. She is certainly a “Lightning Rod” on this forum.
Dear Senator Harp,
What’s a little corruption among friends? Your development team will amount to “business as usual” at city hall.
No, robn. It comes down to engineering and strategy and capital…
What I’m getting at is that the distance is much greater, but that if you could reduce the trip time to about 60 minutes, you now effectively push New Haven closer to Manhattan. It becomes a commutable distance, and a major junction with the greater New York mass transit system. If you can get on a train in midtown, bypass the glut of the inner ring (bounded in CT by Stamford, which is about 55 minutes from GCT), and open up interior Connecticut in a way that is not possible now. That’s what is so great about this as a goal. The general idea is to treat our rail lines more like subways in terms of frequency of trains, by the way. This would make New Haven a hub like Stamford, but in some ways even better.
Engineering: not something that can be simply dictated. Engineering improvements take time and great resources, along with missteps that can be costly in money and lives.
Strategy: New Have to New York high sped rail would have to pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time in order to be viable. Our state and city are in hook to their gills.
Capital: how much do you think we ought to spend? If $10 million per mile is the typical cost for true high-speed rail track, and the distance is 80 miles, then the track laying alone would be $800 million dollars, to which we can add the cost of property required to straiten the track. Effectively, this is a one billion dollar project, and that is without the train sets.
P.S. Amtrak charges $122 one way New Haven to New York. As much as I like fast trains, I am not paying that to commute.
High Speed Rail like any public transportation system NEVER pays for itself. The MTA, CT Transit & Amtrak are perfect examples. One Billion for a high speed railroad is cheap compared to what taxpayers spent on the “Big Dig”. Amtrak needs to lower their rates to attract more passengers. It’s cheaper to fly from
Bradley to Washington than take the train. Most of Amtrak’s cars run empty except for the Northeast Corridor.
I like to think revival means to breathe new life into an old way of doing something. New, fresh ideas and thinking belongs to the young adults. Old folks need to step aside and
act in a guidance-y/wisdom-y role. I graduated in the 80’s and its time to wind down aand pass along your knowledge and experience to the new grads and see them through…
Art Vandelay, point taken. (I guess one ought never comment just before going to bed. I also think my $1,000,000,000 price tag is a low ball figure.) I do understand that all of our transport solutions are subsidized: airports, rail, and highways. I submit that MetroNorth pays for itself in the wealth that it creates – no Gold Coast would not be possible without it, nor would Fairchester have evolved to the economic center it is without rail. The recovery of investment I wrote of was not about revenues, but value.
At the end of the day, as assume a high-speed train to NYC would be, I do not think it realistic at all. We might, depending on scheduling and rail space, be able to have non-stop service to New York. So as much as I like Sen. Harp’s idea, I think it unworkable.
Her taking this position now, as a mayoral candidate strikes me as odd. Would she not have been in a stronger position to advance this idea as a State Senator? King of like Mr. Nemerson saying, elect me mayor, and I’ll sort out the parking, which I cannot or will not do in my role in the Parking Authority.
Hhe: According to the 2010 Amtrak Master Plan, anticipated costs just from New Haven to New Rochelle, NY: $4,391 BILLION + $227 Million for station improvements.
Then closer to NYC: Hellgate improvements: $817 Million + $160 Million for station improvements. And then a staggering $12.568 Billion to increase NY Penn Station capacity.
I’m all in favor, but think it will take a long time, and likely cost a lot more. Until everthing’s complete, Acela will shave off 22 minutes from Boston to NYC, probably mostly west of NH.
I think all the comments regarding direct high speed rail service from New Haven to NYC is great. I’d love to see it happen. The point I’m trying to make is that Senator Harp is acting as though she already has won the election. It’s sad since she has excellent opponents with great ideas that cannot get their message out. It’s also sad that there is no Republican Party in the city of New Haven. I doubt seriously if anyone in New Haven is a Republican. Harp has the endorsement of the Democratic Party and that’s all that matters.
My comment may be confusing, so, in simple terms:
NH to New Rochelle—— roughly $5 Billion
New Rochelle to NYC——roughly $14 Billion
Total very likely to hit $20 Billion. That’s serious money.
There is only one sentence dedicated to the express train idea in the actual 10 point plan: “Toni Harp believes a one-hour, Metro-North express train to Grand Central Station would be an advantage for the City”.
That’s it. That’s all it says. I don’t think there’s anybody that disputes that such a thing would be an advantage, but the plan offers no details beyond that one declaration.
To me, this article seems to have asserted this to be a more serious idea than Harp herself has so far (at least I hadn’t heard of the idea prior to reading this article - not that that means much - but if you google ‘Toni Harp express train’ the NHI article and related poll are the only hits). Looking at the poll, the strong majority think this is a good idea, however for all the reasons given by Robn, Art V, HhE, et al., the only conclusion that one could draw, Harp herself included (hopefully), is that such a thing is probably a long & expensive ways off at best. Anybody voting for her thinking that she has the ability to pull this off quickly will have another thing coming. I hope that she’ll be called upon to elaborate further on this during the mayoral debates or some similar forum.
Yes, the figure that Contrarian provides is a big number for New Haven or Connecticut. This would be financed by the federal government. That makes the figure a drop in the bucket. The need and the value of for upgrades to the northeast corridor - particularly the sections between GCT and NHV - are pretty well recognized. The bigger challenge is getting all the jurisdictions involved on the same page - all the municipalities, at least four states (really its more like eight), and then of course there is the tea party caucus in Congress, which thinks that earmarking for transportation infrastructure is the the mark of the beast.
Obviously, this discussion left it’s origin quite awhile back in the comments. But I suggest it is a positive thing for the Harp campaign to indicate that it understands New Haven’s economic development potential in its larger geographic context.
A simpler way to get to GCT in about an hour would be a genuine express - NHV direct to GCT. No stops. We have a 4 track right of way - use it.
The Acela Express stops only once. If the rail beds allowed it to travel only half of its top speed, it could do the trip in one hour. It’s not physically possible unless we construct a new line elsewhere. To my point, Harp’s Flippantly including a $750,000,000 wish in her 10 point plan is irresponsible demagoguery.
It’s not the speed that matters when it come rail service from New Haven to NYC, it’s the number of stops. I’d like to see a few trains during peak hours directly to NYC and a few with stops in only Bridgeport & Stamford. I think that’s a fair compromise.