The Cove Wrestles With Whose Flag To Fly

Allan Appel PhotoMorris Cove is ready to fly Old Glory in the neighborhood — but not sure if if other countries’ flags belong in the display at all.

The idea of purchasing and flying American flags along Townsend Avenue from the seawall to Lighthouse Point Road during the tourist-rich summer months emerged this week at a public meeting, during discussion over how to spend $10,000 allocated to each of the city’s management teams annually through the Livable City Initiative’s (LCI) Neighborhood Public Improvement Program

Neighbors embraced the idea. But they didn’t end up voting on it, because of a lively debate sparked by Morris Avenue resident and South African-born Rikka Visser. Visser asked: Why only American flags? The area is diverse. Why not international flags as well? To which neighbors responded: That would open up a can of worms.

That charged but polite back-and-forth on patriotic displays took place Tuesday night at the East Shore Management Team’s regular monthly meeting and pot luck supper. The gathering drew 15 concerned citizens to the community room of the Engine 16 Firehouse at the corner of Townsend Avenue and Lighthouse Point Road.

Management team treasurer John Abbagnaro said he had noticed how other areas in New Haven as well as neighboring East Haven fly American flags throughout the summer months. Why not use some of the money to do the same on Morris Cove’s main thoroughfare?

Several neighbors agreed. Then Rika Visser asked, “Why not [also] international flags?”

“You’ll leave someone’s [country’s flag] out,” another voice chimed in from the back of the community room.

Then that person could pay to add his or her country’s flag to the display, Visser parried.

“That’s a good idea,” yet a fourth voice replied.

Shifting the discussion, Abbagnaro said, “I’d start in the beginning of summer to Labor Day. We’ve got $10,000 to spend.”

He also raised the issue of who’d put the flags up and where they would be stored.

Someone suggested contacting United Illuminating to see if as, a public service, the company could fly the flags on its poles and provide storage as well.

Neighborhood LCI staffer Pauley Morbidelli suggested using lamp posts.  “The light poles belong to us,” he said.

Josh Van Hoesen hadn’t forgotten the Old Glory v. International issue, which still floated unresolved in the discussion.

Looking up from his iPhone, he reported: “About 197 flags of independent countries if they use them all.”

After the formal meeting was adjourned and participants ambled over to the pot-luck fried chicken, biscuits, pizza, and chip-rich chocolate cookies, former management team chair Tina Doyle engaged Visser in more discussion about the pesky flag question.

“It’s [flying international flags] a good idea, but there will always be someone who wants their nation. How do you please everyone?” she asked rhetorically. “Rotate them?”

“If I want a South African flag, I could pay for it,” Visser replied.

Then another potentially thorny problem came up: “What if someone wants to fly an Al Qeda flag?

It was left for Morbidelli to make inquiries about how and where flags might be displayed. He was asked to report on the matter at the next meeting, when neighbors might vote on the matter.

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posted by: Pat from Westville on September 21, 2017  4:35pm

Al Quaida is easy—it’s not a country, just a group of terrorists.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 21, 2017  4:49pm

Why don’t you check with the churches and see if there are families in need and spend your money there.
  Or how about a local Job Corps to clean the streets, plant flowers, etc.
  We should be investing in people and not images.
  Morris Cove is a beautiful neighborhood, but $10,000 goes a long way to easing human misery.
  So our tax money will go to fund flags while people are struggling?
  Please re-think your options.

posted by: 1644 on September 21, 2017  4:53pm

The city is about to run out of cash and its spending money on flags?  No wonder the city has no reserves, and no cash.  I mean, why act responsibly when Dan has promised to punish the responsible and reward the irresponsible?

posted by: CNewHaven on September 21, 2017  5:07pm

They fly international flags in Philly on the road that leads up to the Art Museam. It’s fabulous.

posted by: RobotShlomo on September 21, 2017  5:26pm

Listen, I try not to be a jingoistic, xenophobic caricature that many Americans are portrayed as, but let’s use a little common sense here. If you fly a flag from what ever country you came on your own property. Great. More power to you. Fly the Jolly Roger for all I care. But asking for the city to fly the flag of another country and using tax payer dollars to do? C’mon now. Not for nothing, but I’ve been Europe five times and there were only two instances I saw of a nation other than the one I was visiting being flown; Outside of embassies (French and the U.S. embassy) and at the town hall in Stockholm to honor a foreign dignitary.

When I read things like this I always remember what Pat Cooper once said; “Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be Italian. But if we go to war I’m not fighting for Italy!”.

posted by: Atwater on September 21, 2017  5:40pm

The American Flag and the Connecticut State Flag are the only flags that should be flown. This is America. Fly your South African flag on your own property. “your nation” is the one in which you reside, to which you pay taxes and to which your loyalty should be. Therefore the American flag is the flag of “your nation”. Pluralism has its place, but there has to be a baseline patriotism.

posted by: Matterhorn on September 21, 2017  6:17pm

I haven an idea, they can donate the money to my in-ground pool charity fund….

posted by: robn on September 21, 2017  7:35pm

I believe that the American Legion is the unofficial keeper of flag etiquette and my understanding is that it’s OK to fly flags of foreign nations next to the US flag to pay respect to those other nations. Also, All flags should flown at same height.

posted by: Edward Francis on September 21, 2017  9:49pm

They are not going to spend $10,000 on flags.  That is just one of many ideas on how to enhance the Morris Cove Neighborhood.  I’m sure all of the Neighborhood Management teams in New Haven are also going through similar discussions.  I personally as an American citizen who served in the military would like to see all American Flags.  From Memorial Day through Labor Day thousands of people heading for the East Shore Neighborhood pass by and through Fort Hale Park and then by the Townsend Avenue Sea Wall Park heading to Lighthouse Point Park.  It is a beautiful neighborhood and many people living here put a lot of effort in keeping the community clean and attractive.  There are many charitable walks and marches coming out of Lighthouse Park during this period of time.

posted by: wendy1 on September 21, 2017  9:54pm

What a waste of $$$.  These boobs should be ashamed for even considering this…maybe the sewage treatment fumes are affecting their intelligence.

Meanwhile high winds and storm surge in our near future will wipe out flags and probably many homes.  Maybe they should invest that money for an emergency rehab fund or relocation fund.

posted by: JCFremont on September 22, 2017  6:28am

Can you imagine this outside of the cove East Shore area? “An American flag? That’s an aggressive statement. We want the LBGT flag, the BLM flag,  the SEIU flag etc.” What ever is put up some one will be offended or feel slighted I’m sure.

posted by: westville man on September 22, 2017  8:18am

JC Fremont-  Quit with the hyperbole- there are American flags flying at people’s homes all over the city. There are certainly some right here in Westville. Your true colors came through with the listing of the other flags.

posted by: alphabravocharlie on September 22, 2017  8:23am

Further proof that no good deed goes unpunished.

posted by: TeachNH on September 22, 2017  8:32am

I’m a Cove resident. I love my neighborhood. But the nationalistic sentiment of lining our neighborhood with American flags would only solidify the Cove’s longstanding reputation of intolerance. That would be unfortunate, because the people of our neighborhood are so much better than that. I understand the idea behind the flags is more benign than this, but I’m afraid that message will be lost—and rightly so. Flags are a waste of $10k. There are more constructive ways to spend this money for our neighborhood. This article made my head hurt.

posted by: 3jan46 on September 22, 2017  10:05am

How about the American flag and the US Coast Guard flag???

posted by: Atwater on September 22, 2017  11:47am

@teach: Since when has the American flag come to symbolize intolerance? There is a big difference between patriotism and nationalism. Lining a main thoroughfare with American flags is a great show of patriotism during the Independence Day holiday and throughout the summer. If go to any of the shoreline towns (Guilford, Branford, Madison Clinton, Old Saybrook) you will see their Main Streets festooned with American flags during the summer. The people of your neighborhood are better than flying Old Glory? Come on, that’s a ridiculous statement. There is nothing wrong in celebrating the Republic, our history and what we should (and sometimes do) stand for, i.e. democracy, liberty, equality, etc.

posted by: alphabravocharlie on September 22, 2017  12:10pm

A symbol of intolerance? Quite the contrary. The flag is a symbol of our nation and its ideals of freedom, equality and guaranteed civil rights. E pluribus unum.

posted by: Realmom21 on September 22, 2017  1:21pm

Wow with funds as limited as they are across the entire city and state buying flags for a seasonal appearance is how you best deam to spend the money. Why not split in to portions to benefit seniors, children and less fortunate. You know senior center activities, food pantry contributions and something for the local public school in the area that is not a necessity but a wish but not in their budget.
It is extremely embarrassing that this is how 10k will be spent. ps flags of any other country are a personal choice. but reality check is your going to now have one persons flag and it is going to start a complete uproar and there is no over sight as to who and or why one flag is chosen over another.  Imagine the Cove not having an Italian flag that would create a civil war but on the flip side why would that flag be any more important than say a flag from Somalia or Cape Verde…reckless spending I believe the elementry children in the community would have made better choices.

posted by: wendy1 on September 22, 2017  1:53pm

ABCharlie, once again you are showing your true color.  Our flag is pretty but currently doesn’t represent anything good.  The world now sees us for what we really are, greedy, violent, imperialistic gun-lovers.  Most of our country looks grimy, shabby, and in need of major rehab….a banana republic with plenty of bananas….so far.  Never has this planet seen such a gap between rich and poor.  We sell more weapons and buy more cocaine than anyone else.  The USA is responsible for more pollution than any other country although China is catching up.

So ABC, eat some humble pie.

posted by: Bohica on September 22, 2017  2:28pm

Are you kidding? Are we really debating this? This is our country and that’s our flag, why would you even consider flying another one? TeachNH, the flag doesn’t stand for intolerance but you might.  Wendy1, if you hate it so much there is an airport nearby.

posted by: Atwater on September 22, 2017  2:43pm

Wendy1: Our flag represents not just the ills of our society and our government but it also represents good. The USA is a great place to live in relative freedom, that’s why so many people want to come here (legally and illegally). Also, the flag represents the ideals that we all should strive to live up to, i.e. liberty,justice, equality, democracy, etc. I am not a nationalist by any means, but I do recognize that this country is a pretty great place to live. This is your country too, if you think that it needs to reform (which it does) then you have the right to take steps to try to create that reform. But, to think that flying the flag is an act of intolerance or simply a representation of imperialism is to illustrate either an ignorance to the multi-faceted reality and character of our country, or an arrogance that surpasses hypocrisy and lands on the blatantly idiotic.

posted by: Pardee on September 22, 2017  3:24pm

I was actually at the meeting. While I generally enjoy Allan’s posts this is really much ado about nothing. But then, Paul does love articles that depict Morris Cove as small-minded and out-of-touch.  And the comment section took the bait…
This topic was discussed for a few minutes and NOTHING was decided except exploring the possibility of flags from the Seawall to the Firehouse. Research needs to be done. It’s a State road. Cost of flags and installation. Permission from UI. I suspect the bulk of this article came from discussions that took place during the social that followed the meeting. The picture did.
This is the second year the City gave management teams $10K to spend. The money must be spent, after a community discussion, on something that benefits the community as a whole. Other management teams have spent their money on festivals or a specific park. The first year, the East Shore Management Team (ESMT) used the funds to install a drinking fountain at Hannah’s Dream playground on Woodward Ave. The fountain includes a water bowl for dogs and a place to attach a hose for watering the Habitat Garden. This park is frequented by people from all over the City and school children are often bused here too.
This year the ESMT voted to use the money to fix a broken water pipe at Fort Hale Park. The park had been without a water source for a couple of years. This meant the Garden Club had to haul water to keep their platings alive, and Boy Scout troops who camped there for special events had to do the same. FYI this is a tourist attraction that draws people from all over the country. The ESMT recently discovered that the leak could be fixed for much less so they are looking for other ways to spend the remaining money. The flag installation is just one of several ideas that have been discussed. When the research is complete and the numbers are in there will be another discussion and a vote. Attend your local management team meeting, and then YOU get to vote!

posted by: mgcarocci on September 22, 2017  4:17pm

I was really hoping to let my freak flag fly… it won’t cost the city a penny

posted by: Mikelive on September 22, 2017  6:57pm

Thanks Pardee, thats all I needed to see in the comment section.

posted by: wendy1 on September 22, 2017  7:30pm

Atwater, I teach American history.

You may think you are free but in this country now, it’s a crap shoot especially if you look different.

I love my country and remember the 50’s like it was yesterday but I was white and didn’t have a clue for a long time.  I realize in many other countries dissension means death.  But educated people everywhere in the US are seeing their freedom eroded and the Bill of Rights applicable mostly for the rich.  I am staying here come what may but take full responsibility for my country’s crimes.  I understand why so many hate us and I dont ask that they forgive or forget.

posted by: alphabravocharlie on September 22, 2017  8:29pm

Wendy- if you read carefully you would see that I said the flag represents the country and its ideals. Ideals are just that. You should be thankful for the freedoms you have, one of which is to be a malcontent and express your views.

posted by: westville man on September 23, 2017  8:53am

Alpha bravo Charlie – the problem is when we malcontents express our views, we are labeled unpatriotic and reminded how thankful we should be. Just see Collin Kaepernick if you’re having trouble understanding this. Some of these so-called freedoms are actually myths. 
But I do love my country and would not live anywhere else.

posted by: 1644 on September 23, 2017  5:35pm

Bohica:  Wendy1, if you hate it so much there is an airport nearby.
If you read the comments on Alexion’s departure, you see that our nearby airport is pretty worthless.  A couple flights to PHL, where they will lose your bags and generally cause you misery.  Besides, Wendy is too old to qualify for landed immigrant status in Canada.

posted by: jim1 on September 24, 2017  4:20pm

I think Wendy1 has a pit bull.  They are allowed in Canada {the pit bull}. The pit bull is 7 so she {the dog} could take her {Wendy1} as her adopted mom, into Canada.

posted by: 1644 on September 24, 2017  6:00pm

Jim:  Immigration Canada does use the same age chart for dogs as for humans, but requires that the dog’s age be multiplied by seven to convert the dog years to human years.  The would make the dog 49, which is too old for Canada.  Canada also limits family immigration to spouse, dependent children, and dependent grandchildren.  parent are not considered “family” for immigration purposes.  The dog would get points for speaking French as well as English.

posted by: positive4NH7462 on September 26, 2017  10:45pm

So this comment is a bit late but very necessary.  Dwightstreeter, Wendy1, 1644 Really? Get a grip, the ESMT is not spending $10,000 on flags. I doubt that is even possible.  As a matter of fact, the Neighborhood Fund is not where the money is coming from for the AMERICAN flags that will be flying from Memorial Day to Labor Day through the East Shore.  The ESMT has fundraisers throughout the year and donates to many organizations, the two schools in the area, the Historical Society for the Pardee Morris House, there is a Halloween Parade, Easter Egg Hunt as well as many other family outings throughout the year.  Realmom21, the ESMT does a lot to benefit the seniors, children and less fortunate as well as the entire community.  TeachNH, maybe you should get involved with your Management Team and you can have input with the community happenings.  It is amazing how quick people get to criticize and yet sit home and not get involved.  The only way one can make change is if one changes the way they do things.  So get out and have a voice, get involved and make a difference.  We have great potential here in New Haven but we will never reach the top with nothing but negativity going around.  Remember let’s be Positive 4 New Haven!  In the long run, we can all benefit.  Change is a good thing!

posted by: 1644 on September 27, 2017  7:44am

positive:  If the funds being allocated are not the Neighborhood fund, government tax dollars, please e-mail the author and ask that the story be retracted.  The strong implication of this article was that at least some of the $10,000 allowed to each neighborhood was to be spent on flags.  If it is privately raised money, I could care less.  My broader complaint is that Harp has her head in the sand about New Haven’s budget problems.  Perhaps she is waiting until after the election to face up to reality.  In the meantime, zero dollars are coming for PILOT, the only budget that has passed the legislature eliminated special programs that give several millions beyond the ECS to New Haven.  Meanwhile,  the city has essentially zero reserve fund, and woefully underfunded pensions. The city was able to sell bonds in August, but could not find anyone willing to insure them.  Meanwhile, Lembo has decided not to run, and the next governor (Tim Herbst) and legislature will not be as kind to spendthrift cities as past ones have been.

posted by: positive4NH7462 on September 27, 2017  9:54am

1644, you are so right about the city’s financial condition. The state is in terrible shape after Mr. Dannel Malloy stepped foot in Hartford and yes the cities like New Haven will suffer.  The city has depended on state funding way too much.  Unfortunately, Malloy was elected as well as many horrible State Reps, Congressmen, and Senators.  It’s about time that people wake up and educate themselves on the people that elected into office.  We need change, dramatic change, term limits you name it.  We need HELP from the right people.  We need people that are in office to help make the change not accomplish their personal agenda. I am speaking of our local, state and federal positions.  We need people that care and have a clue what it is like to live in CT and struggle.  There was a day when the term Public Servant had meaning. Something certainly changed with that definition.  Public Servant used to mean work for the people not for your agenda, don’t get involved for the paycheck or for making it your lifelong career.  It’s time that the American people wake up and pay attention, get out to vote and create a two-party system that can work.  People need to be open-minded to make a change!  Always remember, Be positive 4 New Haven, as well as CT, great things, can happen!!

posted by: 1644 on September 27, 2017  11:39am

Postive: The state was in terrible condition before Malloy.  He has, however, made it worse.  In spite of the bad condition, he championed new spending programs like EITC and pre-K.  He borrowed to fund the teachers’ retirement fund, with bond covenants that require the state to make its ACR.  With the SEBAC agreement, he has tied the hands of future legislators and governors in a future where pension shortfalls will grow and grow. As appropriations chair, Harp had much to do with creating the state’s current condition as well.  Change is coming.  The passage of a Republican budget is one sign.  The SEBAC agreement is evidence that the state unions believe they will lose control in 2018, hence the effort to restrict the state’s actions after that date.

posted by: positive4NH7462 on September 27, 2017  2:57pm

1644 - I agree that CT has been on a downward spiral.  Now is the time for everyone to get out and make changes and vote out the people that are not working in the best interest of the people.  Time for a change!!

posted by: Josiah Brown on September 27, 2017  6:02pm

Those interested in the flag(s) – especially the American flag – may also be interested in the excellent “Broad Stripes and Bright Stars” exhibition that Aicha Woods and Dave Coon curated at the Ely Center of Contemporary Art over the summer.


According to that article, “We are honoring a pre-sale of the catalog at $36 until October 15th through our website. After Oct. 15th, the catalog will be available through our website and e-store for $45 and also be available for expanded distribution through Amazon for $58.”