Wall Street Closure Deal Resurfaces
| Jan 11, 2013 3:34 pm
City lawmakers are poised to reconsider the two-decade-old deal allowing Yale to close High and Wall streets to traffic and reopen a discussion that was a flashpoint in town/gown relations.
Justin Elicker, who chairs the Board of Aldermen’s City Services and Environmental Policy Committee (CSEP), said he plans to hold a workshop in February on Yale’s continued closure of portions of portions of the streets, followed by a public hearing at a later date.
Yale assumed control of those streets from the city back in 1990 and closed them to most vehicular traffic. The deal included a vague clause calling for the city to reevaluate it after 20 years—leading to a debate over whether it needs to be extended and whether lawmakers can, or should, try to exert legal leverage.
The matter last appeared on the Board of Aldermen’s agenda in December 2011,, when it began to spark a power struggle between lawmakers and Yale. Click here, here, and here for more background.
During the fall of 2011, the issue prompted a high-stakes game of poker, as aldermen threatened to ask Yale for more money to keep the streets closed and the university warned the move would backfire on the city when Yale reconsidered its voluntary contributions. The matter was shelved immediately before the Board of Aldermen saw a big changeover from the 2011 elections.
Revisiting the issue offers a chance for a fresh start to negotiations, with a crop of aldermen with strong ties to Yale labor unions that are accustomed to negotiating with the university. Those unions have a history of calling for Yale to contribute more to the city; however in the past few years that relationship has grown far more cooperative. It remains to be seen how the High-Wall discussion will unfold this time around. Several aldermen interviewed said they’re adopting a wait-and-see attitude. One alderwoman said Yale should not expect to have the streets for free.
Thanks to the 1990 agreement. High Street between Elm and Wall is closed off to cars and bricked over as a walkway that is now part of Cross Campus. Wall Street between York and College is theoretically closed to car traffic and parking. (Permitted Yale vehicles use it.)
In exchange for taking over the streets, Yale in 1990 gave the city $1.1 million and agreed to a package of other concessions, including yearly voluntary payments for fire services, the addition of the Yale golf course to the Grand List, and an investment of $50 million over 10 years in economic development.
The university has since surpassed the original agreed-upon annual contributions, giving more each year to the city than the deal required.
The deal included a provision that the agreement be revisited after 20 years. The 20-year review landed in 2011 in front of the aldermanic CSEP committee in the form of a proposal by the traffic and parking department to have the streets remain closed indefinitely.
Controversy ensued. Yale interpreted the 20-year review as limited to simply looking at whether the street closings are causing any traffic problems. Some aldermen characterized the 20-year review as a chance to renegotiate the deal completely and perhaps secure larger payments from Yale for the continued closure of the streets.
Several contentious public hearings ensued. At the final of these, in December, lawmakers punted. They tabled the issue, passing it on to the new crop of aldermen who took office in January 2012.
The matter sat on the table for over a year, never appearing again on the CSEP agenda during all of 2012.
Chairman Elicker, an East Rock alderman, said he wants to move forward with it now, but hadn’t put it on the agenda because it seemed that people weren’t ready to vote on it. The new Board of Aldermen had to learn the ropes in 2012 as well as tackle the knotty problem of redistricting.
Now, beginning the second year of the term, is a good time to revisit the street closure deal, Elicker said.
“I’ll put it on the agenda,” Elicker said. He said CSEP will hold a workshop on the matter at its February meeting to get new members up to speed on the history of the issue. Then CSEP will hold a public hearing at a later meeting, he said.
“In my opinion, let’s move on with the thing,” Elicker (pictured) said.
Elicker said he thinks the street closure is working well. People, including him, enjoy having that part of High Street as a pedestrian-only zone, he said.
But the city needs to have a clear agreement with Yale the streets, he said. “I think the city should always have the right to take back those streets.”
Yale could do more for the city, Elicker said. He mentioned linking up Yale’s various shuttle and transportation systems with CT Transit, and expanding Yale’s entrepreneurial incubators to more New Haveners. But the street-closure deal is not the vehicle for trying to wrangle more out of Yale, Elicker argued.
As a labor-backed alderwoman-elect in late 2011, Dixwell’s Jeanette Morrison said she was ready to wrangle. Yale is a huge corporation and could do more to support the city, she said at the time.
Asked again about the deal this week, Morrison offered a more conciliatory tone. She has shifted her stance since taking office, she said.
“In being in this position, I see that Yale gives and they help out the city,” she said. “I’m starting to learn more about the whole process as far as the relationship-building between different entities ... and now that I’m wearing that hat, I’d like to look at the situation again.”
Morrison, who sits on the CSEP committee, said she’s not sure what she will decide on the deal review now.
Board President Jorge Perez declined to comment on the deal. He said he tries not to influence the work of committees to which he doesn’t belong, including CSEP.
“I personally don’t have an opinion on it,” said Hill Alderwoman Jackie James, vice-chair of the CSEP committee. “It’s up to the community and the people in the city to give us input on this process.”
“I think it’s good that it’s coming up and I think we ought to keep an open mind,” said Westville Alderman Adam Marchand, who sits on the CSEP committee. “We need to look at the facts and hear the arguments.”
East Rock Alderwoman Jessica Holmes, who is not on the committee, said the streets have value and if Yale wants to continue to control them, the university may have to be prepared to pay for the privilege.
“Twenty years ago, it seemed like there was value to Yale to have control of those streets and it was in the city’s interest to let Yale be in charge of those streets,” Holmes said. “That could very well be the case again. ... We can’t afford in this financial climate to give anything away.”
Yale has made progress in town/gown relations, but the relationship needs to be worked on over time, Holmes said. “Negotiations need to be continuous.”
As for Yale’s position: “The issue is in the hands of the Board of Aldermen,” said Lauren Zucker, Yale’s head of New Haven affairs. “That’s all there is to say at this point.”
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posted by: Curious on January 11, 2013 3:58pm
I would love to see a tram in New Haven. See what Yale is willing to contribute to that, please, since the city keeps balking on it.
posted by: David S Baker on January 11, 2013 4:56pm
Can anybody cut a deal to close a road? Are these privileges only extended to institutions that employ 2/3 of the town and have outlasted every other major industry in the area? Do you have to own every inch of property surrounding said road to ask to have it closed? Seriously, Yale, give us back the road. We take AWESOME care of our roads. Keep your money, we have plenty. You are just driving up the price of road closures.
These and other moot points coming soon from the minutes of the BOA. Unite Here
posted by: anonymous on January 11, 2013 5:58pm
The actual community should decide whether the current status of road closure is appropriate. An official at City Hall is not about to request something different from Yale, and the BOA only cares about money for their Union.
The streets do not work perfectly from a traffic perspective and the City must retain the ability to make changes in the future as our transportation systems change, at least every four years.
As a condition of renewing this deal, Yale should agree to make further improvements to the streets, where they are inadequate (e.g. pedestrian and bike safety) as well as the surrounding areas that their characteristics indirectly impact.
Yale can have the streets closed, but they are city streets, and the goal should be to make them world-class streets for public circulation, not some bureaucrat’s vision of a road / plaza for undergraduates and University staff.
posted by: Esbey on January 11, 2013 8:53pm
Alder Holmes says that “the streets have value and if Yale wants to continue to control them, the university may have to be prepared to pay for the privilege.”
It is possible that she doesn’t understand that Yale pays the city massive amounts of money, well in excess of anything they are “required” to do? And that therefore increasing the “required” portion of Yale’s payments wil have no effect at all on the amount of money the city receives, since Yale has said it will just reduce its voluntary contribution by an offsetting amount?
A better idea would be to sell Yale the block of High Street that goes by Old Campus. Do I hear $2 million plus perpetually unrestricted pedestrian access for all?
posted by: JohnW on January 11, 2013 10:39pm
A suggestion. Mr Elicker and the rest of the BOA should negotiate for Yale to close the block of High Street between Chapel and Elm. In addition, the city should create a pedestrian mall (similar to Burlington, VT) on Chapel between College Street and York Street and ask Yale to pick up the costs for the infrastructure/landscaping. The parking lots behind the British Art museum and behind Union League etc should be made into public metered parking to replace the lost meters from closing the street. The pedestrian mall could support street vendors who would pay a fee and the surrounding restaurants could set up outdoor cafes for a fee as well. The University wins by having a great resource outside its doors, the businesses win by having more customers and the city wins by enhancing its amenities and from increased business revenues. If not this then come up with some other plans to use the negotiations to enhance the walking/livability quotient of New Haven and not just fight the same old town-gown silliness the last time this came up.
posted by: Nashstreeter on January 12, 2013 12:49am
I think Yale just can’t wrench itself away from the idea of itself as a gated community. They used to see themselves as a jewel in a swamp. Then in the 70s they supported the idea of a Ring Road that would direct New Haven traffic around their perimeter. Probably after they decided that they wanted to enlarge that perimeter they abandoned the idea. That plus a lot of community push-back.
Closing off the streets that intersect the campus seems to fit nicely with the gated community idea. They have a lot of money; why not bribe a desperate city to let them own the public streets? They’re probably looking at Cedar Street by the hospital as the next likely candidate for purchase.
Yale has to learn to wrap it’s institutional mind around the fact that it is an urban campus; it exists within a city, and that city gives it flavor and vitality. And to the extent that the city that surrounds it is not uniformly upper middle class and well-bred, Yale should feel an obligation to mitigate the misery and poverty that abut its borders.
Maybe we’re coming to a point where New Haven will consider standing up on its hind legs and asserting itself as an urban entity in its own right. “The streets belong to the people,” as we used to say. I really hope we can make that happen.
posted by: RCguy on January 12, 2013 2:25am
Looks like three or four emergency vehicles are parked in the distance.
posted by: ElmJackCity on January 12, 2013 5:50am
Give Yale the road. How about we talk about developing the waterfront? Whether it be in the area of restaurants and bar owners already contiguous with what we have downtown, or via the Port Authority?
posted by: Pat from Westville on January 12, 2013 9:34am
To JohnW: Again a suggestion—closing Chapel between York and College to be a pedestrian mall—that ignores some traffic realities. Chapel is a major city thoroughfare. And at least 4 or 5 of CT Transit’s bus routes outbound (B-Whalley Ave, D-Dixwell Ave, F-West Chapel, Q-Edgewood Ave, Z-Goffe St) use Chapel St. Rerouting those would be a nightmare, and probably impossible to do given all the one way streets in downtown.
posted by: robn on January 12, 2013 10:39am
No further street closures should occur without being coordinated into a two way street plan for the city. The city needs to shed the last vestiges of the Maurice Rotival curse and eliminate the Byzantine one way system.
posted by: lrnoff on January 12, 2013 12:00pm
The roads that are currently closed are fine, in my opinion. But why would we want to make driving around downtown even more difficult than it already is now? Closing ANY portion of Chapel St. is a horrible idea, as is closing the stretch of High between Chapel and Elm. That block has very little pedestrian traffic any way, so what would be the benefit to Yale? And when you’re going around in circles, trying to find a parking space, it helps to be able to use High St., rather than go up a block to the more congested York St.
posted by: HhE on January 12, 2013 12:10pm
David S Baker, I take great exception to what you said, and furthermore…oh, wait, irony. Ah, very good. Carry on.
Nashstreeter, are you aware that Yale’s number one problem by far is New Haven’s crime? That is why the gates, YPD, the blue phone boxes, and as well as the community outreach.
Intuitions with money, like people, do get tired of being treated like somebody else’s ATM.
posted by: anonymous on January 12, 2013 12:20pm
We could just make the streets public and get the parking meters back.
This is what is needed: Shared space that combines on-street parking to support businesses and very slow traffic speeds (like much of Wall Street, which Yale promised to close off, but never actually traffic calmed) that create a pedestrian district. Traffic only comes in if it needs a parking space.
Many U.S. cities have these now, too (Court Street in New Haven is sort of an example).
Unfortunately, New Haven’s traffic engineers are stuck in the 1950s, when everything is supposed to be designed either as a superhighway or a sidewalk.
posted by: TheMadcap on January 12, 2013 3:13pm
If the end planning results of the last time the city was given back control over roads(i.e. the Rt.34 project) is any indication of anything, the city should never given back roads, ever.
posted by: RCguy on January 12, 2013 4:20pm
Both Yale and new urbanists have something in common: they want a car-free city. So if this can start with Yale itself, the new urbanists will go for it, despite any pretend disdain they have for Yale. It’s a done deal.
Sadly, all parties will eventually conclude that in order to build a friendlier future city, they will have to literally build another city somewhere else. That’s what Buckminster Fuller would do.
posted by: Noteworthy on January 12, 2013 9:28pm
What’s the deficit this year? That’s what the city settled for the last time and that’s how Yale got control of the streets.
posted by: JohnW on January 12, 2013 9:33pm
Dear Pat from Westville,
You are most likely correct that this would cause traffic problems. In Minneapolis, I believe that the pedestrian mall area just lets buses through - but not other traffic - so that could be one solution. Or close off another block of High Street and the block of Crown between High and College and make an L-shaped pedestrian mall. Or do it in ninth square. My original suggestion centered on Chapel since it could be part of an integrated project around the Yale campus and it already has the surrounding businesses/museums for a strolling/shopping district. But, I have long thought that New Haven should create a pedestrian mall area as a way to enhance downtown and to spur on downtown residential and business opportunity. I suspect that folks initially thought that closing a major cross street in Burlington, VT was a major hassle as well, but now it is just part of the fabric of that city and a source of a lot of street life and vibrancy especially in summer months. The more people want to live downtown, the more they will and cities that work well are all centered on downtown residency, not moving in and out the most easily. New Haven has gotten a pretty good start on this in the past decade and I honestly think that a series of pedestrian-only streets downtown would accelerate and consolidate those gains going into the next decade.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on January 13, 2013 1:15pm
Isn’t the city currently studying the feasibility of converting some downtown streets from one-way to two-way? If Tower Parkway and Elm Street are converted back into two-way streets, which they should be, its entirely possible that Wall and High Streets may work better as traffic-calmed city streets.
Most colleges hire private security, have those blue boxes and make dorms accessible through some type of key card and its not because of New Haven crime, its because of crime committed by fellow students.
posted by: anonymous on January 13, 2013 10:02pm
Jonathan is correct. Those issues, and other concerns about 50-year impacts (e.g., transit and bicycle circulation), must be carefully studied before control of the streets is surrendered to Yale for another 20-year period. And the idea about giving Yale perpetual control is insane. Yes, it costs money to change the streets but it’s a lot more expensive in the long term if the city misses key opportunities.
posted by: SaveOurCity on January 14, 2013 11:20am
I think the comments so far are missing an important part of Justin’s recommendations - the need to have a unified transit system in town. Although the Yale Shuttle is super convenient if you happen to live in the right neighborhood, it really does divide the city. The shuttle provide free service to the afluent areas of town leaving the regular bus service to the rest. This results in many folks avoiding the CT Transit buses because only ‘those people’ ride them. (and then we feel the need to add a trolley system because people don’t like the buses)
We can’t the dollars Yale uses to operate the shuttle be redirected into adding public bus services for everyone?
posted by: HhE on January 14, 2013 11:34am
Jonathan Hopkins, yes, however,
Let us take SUNY Oswego in the late ‘80s as an example, if only because I was there. It had sworn police officers, but they carried side arms only during the swing and graveyard shifts. We had keys to our dorms, but they were only locked from 11PM to 7AM. There were blue call boxes, even though the threat of sexual assault was primarily, if not entirely date rape.
Yale’s number one problem is New Haven crime. The number one reason students decline admissions? New Haven. The number one reason Professors decline a job offer? New Haven.
A senior officer of the university once told me, if Yale could get away with it, they would string video cameras all along Mansfield. Ever notice the YPD Car or Yale security on Prospect? They are not worried about Yale students having a go at a Chinese care taker. Once, after a CMT meeting, I was sitting in a friend’s blue and white, in my driveway. We were talking about various things when we saw a group of kids walked past. They were not walking up Prospect Hill for their constitutional. They were going to “China Town” to rob someone. My friend confronted them, got their IDs, and sent them back down the hill.
The size of YPD, the 24/7 gates on the colleges, the blue call box on the corner of Prospect and Highland, that is not out of fear of fellow students.
posted by: robn on January 14, 2013 11:54am
posted by: HhE on January 14, 2013 12:25pm
robn, yes, “China Town.” The kids/predators in Newhallville refer to the area of Prospect Street from Highland to Division as “China Town.” This is from the large numbers of graduate students who live there, typically with their young children and a set of parents who take care of the children. The villains come up the hill to rob the grandparents, knowing they will not resist, turn over a few dollars, and not make a report. The Chinese are not ones to trust the police, and tend to avoid the police in their own country as well as here.
Before anyone calls me a racist, know that my children are half Chinese. I have been to China: ours (RoC), British (before and after the handover), and theirs (PRC) twice—and not just tourist cities like Shanghai, but the real China.
Also, I personally do not refer to this area as China Town.
I find Mao Tse Tung’s works, and Sir Robert Thompson ‘s interpretations, very useful in understanding Newhallville and Prospect Hill.
posted by: HhE on January 14, 2013 12:36pm
SaveOurCity, no we cannot. It is Yale’s money, and their shuttle, which they operate for their students.
It strikes me that our city keeps forgetting how Yale got all that money: donations (mostly from alumni) and wise investment. This means that was Yale does with its money must meet with the implicit approval of donors, or the donations are liable to dry up. If Yale overspends, its endowment to decline.
Yale did not win PowerBall the same day they learned they had terminal cancer. It has taken over 300 years to get where they are now, and they probably would like to keep on going for another 300 years or more.
posted by: robn on January 14, 2013 12:54pm
You continue to pleasantly surprise me.
posted by: HhE on January 14, 2013 12:55pm
RCguy, earlier, I tried to post an explanation of why Yale might not be as anti car as one might think. I detailed how a Yale Officer used to drive to work, in-spite of a 0.3 mile commute.
posted by: Nhv.Org on January 14, 2013 4:41pm
In an ideal world, the City policy and the University policy would be in the best interest of the public as a whole, so it wouldn’t matter as much where the decision came from. As long as it were in everyones’ best interest.
We all want less traffic. There can’t be more public transportation until there is less ‘private’ transportation (i.e. single passenger vehicles). In order to have the #nhv of the future, it will require a re-routing of interstate highway traffic to parking lots which then transfer these commuters to a rail system.
Plans are in development. 270 words left in my 400 word limit. Not a fan of the spell check feature in the comment field. What NHI needs is a fact check feature. Haha! An opinion filter.
posted by: streever on January 14, 2013 4:57pm
“It strikes me that our city keeps forgetting how Yale got all that money: donations (mostly from alumni) and wise investment. This means that was Yale does with its money must meet with the implicit approval of donors, or the donations are liable to dry up. If Yale overspends, its endowment to decline.
Yale did not win PowerBall the same day they learned they had terminal cancer. It has taken over 300 years to get where they are now, and they probably would like to keep on going for another 300 years or more.”
The rabble-rousing podium speeches about Yale being evil completely ignored this reality, and made me very skeptical of this new B of A.
Evil or not, Yale has legal rights and historical context which they operate in.
I am glad to see that the new B of A has abandoned some of their rhetoric, and hopefully they are starting to understand that the podium speeches and platitudes they offered in exchange for the support of grad students who attend a school they loathe and unionized employees who make a great salary at that university are not effective long-term strategies for New Haven.
Instead of sitting around and blaming Yale, I’d like to see our municipal leaders work on developing those parts of the city not leased to Yale (the Hill, the sea, Fair Haven) and concentrate on improving the conditions in those neighborhoos and areas.
I suspect that negotiating in good faith with Yale to invest in our city is a better technique than giving them a hard time over every development they wish to make (positive or negative)—Yale is neither hero nor villain. Yale builds in ways that both helps and hinders New Haven.
We should calculate the cost and benefits into our overall Yale negotiations when seeking money instead of just looking at how much money Yale has.
While the previous administration was friendly to New Haven and tolerant while increasing their expansion in neighborhing cities, I don’t think we can count on that throughout all possible administrations—the minute that the University removes more of their day-to-day operations and schools from New Haven will be the minute that the people who rabble-rouse at the podium will no longer have a meaningful audience. It is easy to get unhappy academics riled up about their employer, and harder to achieve meanginful long term-change and sustainability.
posted by: lrnoff on January 14, 2013 5:14pm
While I realize New Haven in many ways is made better by the fact of Yale’s existence, could we please remember that downtown is not just about Yale? There are people who live, work, shop, and go to school in the city, who have no connection to the university, and simply need to be able to get around, and park, with as little hassle as possible. Why do we need only worry about how the state of the city impacts Yalies?
posted by: streever on January 14, 2013 7:42pm
In all honesty, who do you think is suggesting that? I don’t see that at all. I see a call instead to negotiate in good faith as partners, instead of in accusations.
People like to see Yale as the evil empire, but the reality is it is a collection of people, like any other. Some of them do bad things. Some of them do good things. Sometimes Yale provides benefit. Sometimes it hinders.
We should have the conversations about what we’d like from them in public forums, with data and numbers presented for everyone, and we should adopt a polite tone. Yale has reached out and is making large voluntary payments. While many citizens may not agree that those payments—in and of themselves—are enough, the conversation can’t be one of condemnation, but rather a fact-based and transparent policy which is PREDICTABLE and scalable.
We need to tie the voluntary contribution of Yale to some real world numbers and costs/values, so that Yale can plan for the future and have a predictable cost.
No business, no non-profit, no household operates well with a cost that scales to the imagination of the asker. That is the system that some of the alders are creating, and it needs to stop.
Route 34 & the MLK school were conducted that way. $150,000 for the Route 34 project? $250,000 from the MLK school project?
What are those numbers tethered by? Nothing.
The message to Yale & developers is clear. Corruption rules the day. No matter who you give the money to, or what noble cause you spend it on, when you require developers to pony up a quarter of a million with no metrics, no cost benefit analysis, and no rationale beside “You have it we need/want it”, you create a pay to play system.
That is my concern. Not that Yale is amazing and doesn’t deserve this. I don’t think anyone feels that way. Most people I speak to want to see Yale pay a “fair share”, and we hope that our elected officials can work out a transparent system for that.
posted by: Pat from Westville on January 14, 2013 7:44pm
“The shuttle provide free service to the afluent areas of town leaving the regular bus service to the rest. This results in many folks avoiding the CT Transit buses because only ‘those people’ ride them.”
First, the Yale shuttle, as I understand it, is meant to transport Yale students, faculty and staff to and from various parts of the campus. It has nothing to do with transporting people to “affluent areas” of the city.
Second, those who avoid CT Transit buses because of “those people” (whoever they might be) are seriously mistaken. As you might gather from my comments to JohnW, I am a bus rider, I no longer have a car and have ridden CT Transit buses for more than 5 years. I go to grocery stores, to doctor’s appointments, to church on Sundays, to work during the week. My fellow bus riders are a wide variety of people, using the buses for the same reasons as I do. Some are quiet, some are not, some are women with infants and toddlers, some are young people (high school students(, some are elderly. CT Transit may not be perfect but it gets me to most of the places I need to get to.
posted by: HhE on January 14, 2013 9:02pm
lrnoff, I do not think any post here is a “Yale only” comment. I do not know of anyone (albeit they may well exist) who thinks downtown is only about Yale.
The reason we might do well to think of how the state of the city impacts Yalies is the same reason Yale worries about this.
I put it to you, a significant number of posts and the article are how people perceive Yale owes New Haven.
Thanks streever. It seams 60% of the time someone quotes me, it is just to take issue with me or ask what my point is—there goes my New Year’s resolution.
posted by: HhE on January 14, 2013 9:06pm
P.S. I do think Yale often acts as a benevolent bully.
In China, for intra city travell, buses are generally considered more prestigious than trains. (This may be changing with their high speed rail.)
posted by: ISR on January 15, 2013 5:48pm
“Yale’s number one problem is New Haven crime. The number one reason students decline admissions? New Haven. The number one reason Professors decline a job offer? New Haven.”
I’d like to see a non-anecdotal source for this, although I doubt there’s one. By that reasoning people should be rejecting the University of Chicago and Columbia. But somehow all three are ranked in the top ten.
Here’s citeable reality: “New Haven is ranked at 168 on the danger scale, similar to Salt Lake City, Boston, Honolulu, and Eugene, Oregon.”
It’s from Data Haven.
I found it in the comments thread of a Yale Daily News op-ed by a freshman about the so-called scariness of New Haven.
posted by: HhE on January 15, 2013 9:06pm
ISR, I am not going to be able to give you the sort of link I think you are seeking, but perhaps this will do.
The “E” in HhE stands for Ellis. I am descended from…
Who is married to…
So that is me, two degrees of separation. Now I know what comes next, I must be Yale’s stooge. Well, maybe ten years ago, but not in the last five.
Robn, you are welcome and thanks, or thanks and you are welcome. You too, Mate.
posted by: HenryCT on January 15, 2013 11:28pm
In the early 1990’s, Yale’s Doug Rae along with architecture and city planning faculty organized a class on the history of New Haven from the mid 1800’s. Remarkably, the class was open to the public. The community participants were numerous enough to have their own study section. Various speakers were brought in to discuss not only the past but prospects for future development of New Haven. One proposal based on Yale sources was that New Haven be turned into a Princeton or Palo Alto, both university towns that cater to upper income consumers. At the time downtown was not in good shape. In the last 20 years, the areas around Yale - Broadway, upper Chapel mainly - have indeed become highly developed and mirror that proposal. Yale’s real estate arms have determined the kind of shops, the clientele, their hours and the flavor of the local neighborhoods. Many New Haveners, the majority of whom don’t fit the well-to-do demographic, cannot afford to shop downtown. While Yale is flexible and realistic enough to have abandoned the disastrous inner ring road, one can read the arc of its general plan - to maintain and extend the concept of two New Havens - a posh moated one for itself and another for the rest of us. Yale supports the other New Haven only so far as it is pushed and so far as it does not want to be surrounded by total chaos and deprivation. This plan is not only for Yale the University, it is the plan of the 1% which Yale’s graduates are intended to feed into and from which the endowment is continuously enriched. It is part of the global economic plan of austerity for the many and sumptuousness for the few. While most of us conceive of a future a few feet down the road, Yale’s planners, like the Pentagon’s, are looking miles and decades. To the extent that the broader community fails to expand its vision geographically and temporally, we remain at a painful disadvantage. Dickering over who controls one street when others are planning to arrange the whole city, and beyond, in their favor is a framework that surrenders our responsibility to our city, our community and our future.
posted by: Nashstreeter on January 16, 2013 11:17pm
HenryCT, you rock! And you too, ISR!
I am reminded of the time in the 90s when the Yale Housing Bureau drew an actual red line around a map of the eastern part of East Rock, to warn the Yale students and staff looking for apartments away from that area.
posted by: robn on January 17, 2013 8:19am
So the presence of an Urban Outfitters and a Barnes and Noble on Broadway is indicative of world domination by the 1%?
Tad bit of hyperbole don’t you think?