A plan to breathe new life into an old industrial area sailed to approval at City Hall Tuesday night.
The Board of Alders Community Development Committee voted unanimously to approve the proposal, the Mill River District Plan. It now goes before the full Board of Alders for final approval.
The Mill River Plan—read about its genesis here and here—proposes to revamp the largely vacant and dilapidated riverine district between the Wooster Square and Fair Haven neighborhoods, once lined with factories that have since left town. In addition to small, emerging businesses like Ecoworks, early initiatives in the plan include improving the coastline in the face of future storms, building up a new center that leads workshops and gets small business off the ground, and expanding New Haven names like Bender Plumbing. Read the full summary here.
“This is an area that can’t be forgotten,” city economic development chief Matthew Nemerson told the alders Tuesday night.
Pressed by alders, Nemerson and deputy development chief Michael Piscitelli acknowledged that they didn’t have all the answers.
“How much is this going to cost the city?” asked Edgewood Alder Evette Hamilton (pictured).
“It depends what comes our way. We can’t put a price on it,” Piscitelli responded. “This creates an environment for us to do some significant work.”
“If you think about it, there are sites like this all along the East Coast.” agreed Nemerson.
Members of the public spoke in support of the proposal before the vote.
“It’s a great plan. I think you should approve this,” said Aaron Goode (pictured) of the Downtown and Wooster Square Community Management Team. He also urged the committee to reconsider plans for a Fair Haven Greenway, initially proposed in 2004. City transportation czar Doug Hausladen and Anstress Farwell of the New Haven Urban Design League also submitted letters in support.
The plan’s approval is contingent upon a list of, in Alder Dolores Colón’s words, “who gets what.” That is, a list showing which properties will belong to the city and which will be privately owned – a list that Piscitelli said he will be happy to provide shortly. Tuesday’s vote came the same day as the announcement of a planning grant from the state, which will help the city identify potential flood zone measures in the area.