A small crowd milled in front of City Hall waiting for a chance at a historical tour, free neon orange gear—and a chance to walk the Green with Mayor Toni Harp.
Harp kicked off a “Walk with the Mayor” series on a rare sunny day so far this spring by taking city representatives, fire department recruits and community members for a stroll around the perimeter of the New Haven Green. Wednesday afternoon’s walk coincided with National Walk Day and is one of seven walks planned for the spring aimed at promoting healthful activity.
Ethan Hutchings (at right in photo), the transportation department’s manager of operations, handed out neon orange swag including drawstring bags, triangular brochures, reflective stickers and car magnets. He used the walk as an opportunity to promote Complete Streets and Street Smarts, two city campaigns to make the roadways safer for bikers, pedestrians and drivers.
He handed Jill Meyerhoff (pictured) a brochure and flier and asked her to sign a “smart pedestrian pledge of commitment” promising she will follow basic traffic laws such as using crosswalks, sharing the sidewalk, obey all pedestrian and traffic signals and wear reflective clothing at night. Complete Streets has similar pledges for the city’s bikers and drivers, he said.
Meyerhoff, a wellness educator at Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, said she is promoting National Walk Day at the center to encourage patients and employees to walk and exercise more often. “The more our employees are feeling healthy and good, the better we can treat patients that come to us,” she said.
Though the sun showed its face Wednesday afternoon, a chilly wind prompted Mayor Harp to run back to her office and grab warm black gloves before she steered the group across the street and down the perimeter of Church Street towards Elm.
Fire Chief Allyn Wright and a few bright-red rows of the fire department’s new recruits joined the walk. Wright said he made sure the recruits were getting “exposure to what goes on in the city” outside of their general training. “They go through a vigorous physical fitness training everyday,” he said. “It’s a cakewalk walking around” the Green.
Jasmine Williams, a recruit who lives in Stratford, said she decided to join the fire department because she wanted to be able to help the community in a broad-based way. She said it was good for the public to see the recruits outside at an event like Wednesday’s walk so they know the firefighters are a part of the New Haven community.
Everyone stopped at a few key points along the perimeter to hear a brief historical rundown from Bill MacMullen (pictured), an architect with the city’s engineering department.
After the New Haven Free Public Library outgrew its first building, Mary Ives donated $300,000 to build a fireproof new building for the library, MacMullen said. The city sold the building to the state to expand the courthouse, then bought it back decades later. It opened in 1991 as one of the state’s largest public libraries, he said.
Another fun fact from the tour: New Haven does not own the Green. A private trust—the oldest in the world, the self-perpetuating “Proprietors”—“maintains it for the common good,” MacMullen said. Everyone is invited to come use the space.
“Can I bring my cow?” Fair Haven activist Lee Cruz quipped.
Not in New Haven, MacMullen responded.
The full schedule of the series is as follows:
April 11th: 10:30 a.m. @ Wooster Square Park.
April 22nd: 4:30 p.m. @ Edgewood Park Playground.
May 2nd: 10:30 a.m. @ Front & Grand at Quinnipiac River.
May 9th: 9:00 a.m. @ Edgewood Park Coogan Pavilion.
June 6th: 9:00 a.m. @ Scantlebury Park-Farmington Canal.
June 22nd: 5:30 p.m. @ Kimberly Triangle on Howard Avenue.