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Elicker Says He’ll Stress The Positive

by Allan Appel | Mar 4, 2013 11:10 am

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

Posted to: Chatham Square, Fair Haven, Campaign 2013

Allan Appel Photo When people visit Fair Haven in the future, Justin Elicker wants the green ribbon of Quinnipiac RIver Park and neighborhood gardens—not block-watch signs or other indicators of crime—to make the first impression.

Elicker delivered that vision and a prescription to attain it at a meet-and-greet Sunday that drew some two dozen Fair Haveners to the Clinton Avenue home of neighborhood organizer Lee Cruz, who is endorsing Elicker’s candidacy for the Democratic mayoral nomination.

Elicker jumped out early in the what may become a crowded race to succeed Mayor John DeStefano, who is retiring after 20 years in office. Fair Haven promises to be a major battleground.

The gathering at Cruz’s house was the eighth meet-and-greet of the campaign so far. The next is scheduled for Wednesday in Beaver Hills at the home of former Alderman Moti Sandman.

Elicker told Cruz’s gathering Sunday that his strategy is based at heart on a positive vision for the city—including having signs for neighborhood associations, like the one Lee Cruz organizes in the Chatham Square section of Fair Haven, replace block-watch signs.

In a wide-ranging discussion over cheese, fruit, chocolate chip cookies, and the occasional flight of Cruz’s speckled green parrot across the room, Elicker laid out facts he said position New Haven to become what he termed “the greatest small city in America.”

They included: the high percentage of restaurants to population, the arts and architecture scene, the key location on a rail line between Boston and New York, and the lowest rental vacancy rate in the country.

“We can’t tax or cut our way out of a budget problem. The long term fix is to grow,” he said.

Elicker added that the time has come to “give some [of downtown’s] prosperity to the neighborhoods.” That prompted Cold Spring School teacher and young dad Joshua Sloat to ask Elicker’s vision for Fair Haven.

“Grand Avenue’s potential [as an economic corridor] is huge,” he said. He mentioned having a street car potentially running down the avenue, and in the nearer term more traffic-calming measures.

With a nod out Cruz’s window to the adjacent Strong School, emptied by the Board of Ed and now vacant for two years, “you can market its [Fair Haven’s] creativity like an art center.” Event host editor Lee Cruz is at the center of an ongoing effort to do that with the Strong School.

Or, Elicker said, the city could market Fair Haven as “a Latin Quarter. Or like the Schiavone property. This node has huge potential.”

Old-timers like George Morrison asked about the speeders and illegal dirt bike and ATV riders who have plagued Fair Haven for years. Elicker said enforcement is key but offered that the sense of lawlessness could also better be countered by a hard look at how the community organizes itself. (Click here to read about, and click on the play arrow to watch, Elicker confronting a teenaged dirt-biker named Justin at a City Hall hearing on the subject.]

“Our structure should not be block watches and police. It should be on neighborhood associations, to focus on the positive. When someone drives into Fair Haven, they should not see a block watch ‘eye’  but ‘Chatham Square Neighborhood Association,’ and empower more of that.”

Asked after the meeting to clarify whether he was proposing the demise of block watches, Elicker said no: “Block watches serve an important role, an opportunity for neighbors to talk about crime. I would not discourage people. I think we can build on the community management teams so it’ s not [primarily] about policing but it’s what ideas we want to implement in our neighborhood. And the city can play a role in implementing those ideas.”

In addition to Chatham Square Neighborhood Association, Elicker called what Stacy Spell has done in the West River Neighborhood Services Corporation (WRNSC) “a fantastic example of what can happen when you focus on the positive, what neighborhood associations can accomplish.”

He said Spell and his group should not have had to wait two years for permission to plant their community garden on the grounds of the Barnard School.

Fair Havener Wojtek “Voytec” Wacowski (pictured at the top of the story) suggested Elicker emphasize the maritime, water uses, and riverfront possibilities of Fair Haven—and not only the arts as potentially embodied in a reconceived Strong School. “I totally agree,” Elicker said.

He concurred that Fair Haven has forgotten its waterfront but was less enthusiastic about Wacowski’s proposal of a reconfigured ward that would cover both sides of the river.

Longtime resident and Downing Street block watcher Fran Goekler-Morneau rued the demise of The Grand Avenue News newspaper as well as the library as a meeting place for all as it was in the old days.

“There’s no place now to pick up the news,” she said, particularly for older people and poorer people who might not be technologically connected. “That makes me sad,” she said.

Eliicker, who is an East Rock alderman, said his electronic neighborhood newsletter could be tailored for Fair Haven and every other neighborhood.

Goekler-Morneau, like many of the attendees, said she was still undecided by meeting’s end. “I felt he [Elicker] understood” and had listened, she said.

As to the proposed arts center in the Strong School, she added, “These ideas are wonderful, but all the people around here are living day to day. This won’t solve their problems.”

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posted by: Lisa on March 4, 2013  11:45am

Elicker has it right with the positive focus.  In order for a block watch to be successful, it must do things to build community.  Its through community building that you get to know your neighbors.  The term neighborhood association encapsulates that. And amen to not taxing our way out of budget problems.

posted by: Joe City on March 4, 2013  11:54am

Just the mention of “Street Car” has completely turned me off to Elicker. And I was thinking of supporting him.

posted by: Webblog1 on March 4, 2013  11:58am

Justin,
Heads up..

You need to be real, stressing positives is healthy, but you really need to portray and act upon the reality the citizens are saying on the NHI SeeClickFix, the NHI crime blog, the police Comp stat meetings, neighborhood community meetings. None of them are suggesting we should devalue Neighborhood block watches.

You say… “Our structure should not be block watches and police. It should be on neighborhood associations, to focus on the positive. When someone drives into Fair Haven, they should not see a block watch ‘eye’  but ‘Chatham Square Neighborhood Association’, and empower more of that.”

That’s bull Shi+,Justin,

Get real or we will find someone who is willing to tackle the problems of today.

posted by: SaveOurCity on March 4, 2013  12:12pm

Great article - but Allan, your description that Justin is an ‘East Rock Alderman’ is a poor description.  Ward 10 includes Cedar Hill, part of Fair Haven, Bishop Woods and Foxon. 

http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/CityPlan/pdfs/Maps/AldermanicLegislativeDistrictMaps/PoliticalBoundaries_11x17_2012.pdf

Please consider modifying this inaccurate description.

posted by: HhE on March 4, 2013  12:14pm

As if I needed more justification to be 100& behind Justin Elicker.  Here is a real (and wonderful) vision for our city.

posted by: anonymous on March 4, 2013  12:23pm

Elicker is the only Alderperson, and one of the only elected officials period,  who has shown a sincere interest in issues outside his Ward over the past few years. That makes him a very strong candidate.  The other potential candidates are mostly no-shows at any of the past 200 or so meetings I have attended.

Focusing on community development is key. According to Robert Putnam, a 10% increase in neighbors knowing each others’ names reduces crime far more effectively than a 10% increase in police officers. Unemployment also falls when you have neighbors who are active and know one another. 

For that reason, each of the candidates should probably have more fleshed out positions about how to build homeownership and make the city more affordable to homeowners (much of which is driven by transportation costs).

posted by: HhE on March 4, 2013  12:23pm

The cheep shots are even faster than me.  Joe City and Webblog1, did you even read the article?

posted by: Threefifths on March 4, 2013  1:09pm

I wonder will he being selling the same plan when he speaks to the Black community.

posted by: Webblog1 on March 4, 2013  1:38pm

yes I did Hhe, this paragraph was added after my post.

“Asked after the meeting to clarify whether he was proposing the demise of block watches, Elicker said no: “Block watches serve an important role, an opportunity for neighbors to talk about crime. I would not discourage people. I think we can build on the community management teams so it’ s not [primarily] about policing but it’s what ideas we want to implement in our neighborhood. And the city can play a role in implementing those ideas.”

The power of the editor!

Moving on>>>>>>>>>>

Reality check #2 Justin,
“We can’t tax or cut our way out of a budget problem. The long term fix is to grow,” he said.

That’s precisely what must be accomplished Justin. There is no more development land left in the city, and if the following is true;


Elicker added that the time has come to “give some [downtown’s] prosperity to the neighborhoods.”
Here you are presenting a contradiction, for sure there is nowhere to develop a tax base in the neighborhoods, unless you want to reduce the more than 6K vacant units in the city and bring them back on the tax roll, that I can support.

Your first mistake was hiring a 24 yr.old from Stamford, who knows nothing about New Haven, now you compound the mistake with #2 by presenting a futuristic vision that ignores reality.

Each time you open your mouth Justin, the back door opens wider.
You gotta be real.

posted by: LeeCruz on March 4, 2013  2:31pm

In support of the comment by anonymous at 12:23pm:

Here is a link to a study that indicates that Neighbors knowing leads to a reduction in violent crime.
http://crab.rutgers.edu/~goertzel/NeighborhoodsCrimeEarls.html

In this time of constrained budgets shouldn’t we look at strategies that cost little to nothing to implement? Just keep in mind that this is not a substitute for community policing, it is a complement that pays off with a lot of side benefits. Follow this link to see what it looks like in my neighborhood: http://www.chathamsquare.ning.com and if you live in the area join us. It’s free.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on March 4, 2013  3:36pm

While there is little room for horizontal expansion within city limits, there is an enormous amount of space to develop more intensely on underused sites. The key to unlocking New Haven’s true development capacity is through transportation, parking, and zoning reform in addition to united special services districts with neighborhood groups.
A transportation system that makes walking, biking and transit use a convenient alternative to daily single-occupancy vehicle commuting is a system that frees vast amounts of land currently used as surface parking up for development. A parking strategy that encourages sharing and 24 hour usage is one that doesn’t demand every new building to have a parking tumor attached to it resulting in a degraded public realm barren pedestrian experience. A zoning ordinance that encourages a proportional mixing of uses is one where large areas of the city aren’t single use and therefore not self-sustaining.
These types of reforms could result in an explosion of new development of garage apartments, home offices, workshops, studios, exhibition halls, corner stores, etc.

posted by: HhE on March 4, 2013  4:09pm

Marcel Breuer designed the iconic Wassily chair when he was 23.  This was a radical departure is what materials could be used to make furniture.  85 years on, it still holds its own.  (I have one myself, and it is very comfortable and good looking.) He was 26 years old when he designed the Cesca, probably the 20th century’s most ubiquitous chair. 

So the argument that Justin Elicker is unqualified to be mayor because his campaign manager is a 20 something is weak at best.  For “young” read:  energetic, plenty of free time for want of family obligations, and fiscally available. 

His vision for the way forward also is very good.  The reality is that taxes are punitively high.  While there are cuts that can and ought to be made, they alone will not be enough.  The way forward is to make all of New Haven (and not just down town) attractive to residents, businesses and visitors.  If our solution is just to survive, then we will never thrive.

posted by: David S Baker on March 4, 2013  9:12pm

“the high percentage of restaurants to population, the arts and architecture scene, the key location on a rail line between Boston and New York, and the lowest rental vacancy rate in the country.”

I’m all for the “positive focus” slant but THAT is where Red knocked it right out of the park.  We are sitting on a socio-economic treasure chest and we never seem to open it.  I MIGHT add that we have brilliant minds hang out here, small business people from every corner of the planet, and a marketable history that would make parts of Europe drool. 

Meanwhile we have TWO train stops and rails that run thru residential areas that are dying for development.  Gainfully employed tax paying folks who work in NY and Boston love talking about taking the train home to their house in CT.  When homes fill, businesses thrive, taxes wane, employment goes up, poverty goes down, crime goes down, and nobody is forced out. 

And Wojtek is spot on about maritime usage.  This is Shoreline CT.  Lets take a cue from some towns that know how to work that angle and start acting like it.  We also have a manufacturing history.  A political history… If we continue to be solely identified as ‘Yale Town’ we are going to continue to be saturated with homes where ONE person is barely feeding SIX with one salary and a remaining population of students that changes every three years.  Not good in the long term.  Its like we are running on vitamin supplements and not eating the complete meal even though it’s sitting in the fridge. 

Threefifths, what community was Elicker speaking to at this gathering?  I received an invite… it didn’t say white community meeting. 

Anyone else think Webblog 1 sounds like Darnell?  ;)

posted by: HhE on March 4, 2013  11:30pm

Well said David S Baker.  It can be hard to believe that we are a coastal city, with a harbour and all that.  Unfortunately, we are largely disconnected from that. 

However, Webblog1 does not sound all that much to me like Darrell, in that, the latter often has a good case, while the former never seams to at all. 

Webblog1 as Darnell’s straw person?  Interesting idea, and rather sophisticated having the shrill offer up weak attacks, while dealer plays a stronger hand. 


3/5ths, I can see Justin Elicker addressing each neighborhood of our city with a message of this is a vision for the entire city, and here is how your area fits into that vision.  I’m not that familiar with Fair Haven, but I rather thought it was a very diverse part of the city. 

So long as people play the race card (something Justin and Gary are both above), this city will always be hobbled.

posted by: Threefifths on March 4, 2013  11:30pm

posted by: David S Baker on March 4, 2013 9:12pm

Threefifths, what community was Elicker speaking to at this gathering?  I received an invite… it didn’t say white community meeting.

You should read what I wrote.

I wonder will he being selling the same plan when he speaks to the Black community.

Are you saying this is no Black Community.

posted by: Threefifths on March 5, 2013  9:44am

posted by: HhE on March 4, 2013 11:30pm

So long as people play the race card (something Justin and Gary are both above), this city will always be hobbled.

What is the race cards.

posted by: anonymous on March 5, 2013  10:49am

JH Wrote:

“The key to unlocking New Haven’s true development capacity is through transportation, parking, and zoning reform in addition to united special services districts with neighborhood groups. A transportation system that makes walking, biking and transit use a convenient alternative to daily single-occupancy vehicle commuting is a system that frees vast amounts of land currently used as surface parking up for development.”

Exactly.  Land development = massive increase in tax revenue.  New Haven is currently an extremely wealthy place - like Hartford, Boston, and Bridgeport-Stamford, it is among the wealthiest urban areas in the world.  The main reason that it does not always feel that way is because we spend so much more on transportation and parking lots than any European metropolitan area of equal wealth.

posted by: streever on March 5, 2013  4:45pm

Weblog1,
I lived on Greenwich Avenue for 3 years: there was absolutely a lot of room for economic development.

When so many residents don’t have grocery stores or other necessities near home, I am bewildered at your assertion. If New Haveners had options close to home, they wouldn’t have to drive to Milford or Orange.

Reasonable clothing stores, on par with Express or H&M, should be available in town, instead of stores that sell $178 hideous cotton ties which promise the notion of fraternity.

Right now our city has two options: the $280 cheap dress shirt or a $10 XXL tee shirt with a sports logo on it. How you completely dismiss the huge swatch of in-between as being a real driver of economic activity makes my head spin.

posted by: Lisa on March 5, 2013  9:14pm

I couldn’t agree more Streever.  There was a time that there were plenty of affordable clothing stores downtown.  Women could shop at NY and Co or Dress Barn.  I can’t remember the name of the men’s store that was in the mall.  The stores all left because it was not so safe to go downtown.  And when that turned around, for some reason only these high end places come in.  MAybe that’s a question to ask Mayoral candidates, “what is your plan to attract businesses that us regular folk can patronize?”

posted by: SteveOnAnderson on March 6, 2013  11:46am

So the same day that his opponent in the mayoral race was speaking in solidarity with grass-roots Latino immigration activists and allies, Elicker was in Fair Haven promoting the idea that “the city could market Fair Haven as ‘a Latin Quarter.’” Seriously?

I’m all for the “positive” message of gardens and arts and neighborhood associations and bike lanes that Elicker promotes, but he also seems to willfully turn away from the realities of structural poverty, inequality, violence, and precarity that we cannot simply “market” & “develop” our way out of.

From the NHI article on the bus tour:
“New Haven state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, a Democratic mayoral candidate, told the crowd about a bill he has sponsored this legislative session to require all local police departments to follow New Haven’s and the Malloy administration’s lead in preventing immigrants arrested on minor or flimsy charges from being deported under Safe Communities.”

posted by: why! on March 6, 2013  1:11pm

Really, Justin “the city could market Fair Haven as ‘a Latin Quarter.’” Should we charge admission and how about Newhallville how do we market that neighborhood ?

posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 6, 2013  4:02pm

FORHENRY

Point taken. When worded that way it does give a bit of a bad taste. Although I have been to many great events of community pride in Newhallville.

But as a person that grew up on Wooster Street I was proud to come from Little Italy..the “Italian quarter”. People knew were the good Italian food was…in my area, they came from all over for our festivals and events. Still do. Great for business and the side effect is a safer community.

So to look at it the way you are seeing it I totally get.
But imagine the promoting of the great food and shops the community has to offer and how great that would be for the merchants in that area. And how great that would be for community pride. And what about all the different parades and events that Fair Haven has to offer and sharing that with people. The only way I know about all the different cool stuff is because I read the NHI but marketing it as THE PLACE TO BE can actually have an amazing and positive effect on the area. 

Marketing a community on its “CULTURE” not its color is the way I see it. But I guess you can turn it around the other way to…glass half full.

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