“Main Street” Consultants Unveil Big Idea: Create A Task Force

Thomas MacMillan PhotoTwo months after they visited New Haven, two neighborhood revitalization experts came to the conclusion they promised they would: Form a task force. They threw in a second idea: Hire us to do more consulting.

That was the word from the consultants as delivered in their final report, released Wednesday, a month after they promised it.

In March, the city paid the consultants $10,000—John Simone, of the Connecticut Main Street Center, and his colleague Kent Burnes—to assess the potential for commercial development in various New Haven neighborhoods. The pair spent several days in town, walking streets in four neighborhoods and meeting with leaders and locals, known as “stakeholders,” in consultant-speak.

In their final report—click here to read it—the pair recommend that the city form the “New Haven Neighborhood Revitalization Center” that would “provide technical assistance and resources for developing programs in neighborhood commercial districts.”

The Connecticut Main Street Center is “available to help New Haven” in the effort, the report states. The first step would be to create a task force.

“My administration is committed to expanding economic opportunity beyond downtown to include vitally important opportunities along these major arteries, and I believe the Connecticut Main Street Center can assist residents, business owners, and other community leaders in this effort,” Mayor Toni Harp said in a press release. “Many stakeholders already have an idea what it will take to activate these commercial districts, now we’ll add input about infrastructure, streetscapes, and traffic calming to devise the best way to move people and goods through the city, into these neighborhoods, and into these businesses.”

For in-depth coverage of their visits to the neighborhoods, including some missed opportunities on Congress Avenue, click on these previous stories:

Retail Gurus’ Conclusion: Neighborhood Districts Need A Task Force
Dixwell Fact-Finders Urged To Include Youth In The Picture
They Sort Of Saw Congress Ave.‘s Potential
On Grand, Fixers Find Litter
Neighborhood Fact-Finding Mission Begins

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 14, 2014  5:43pm

Two months after they visited New Haven, two neighborhood revitalization experts came to the conclusion they promised they would: Form a task force. They threw in a second idea: Hire us to do more consulting.

Arrogant power elites feel no obligation to be accountable to the public. Power elites own the government and use it to serve their interests and protect a corporate plutocracy.

posted by: Bill Saunders on May 14, 2014  6:25pm

How ‘bout some ‘Forced Tasks’ instead??

(It warmed my heart to be the first to vote—an uncut purple cake of ‘NO’)

posted by: Paul Wessel on May 14, 2014  6:46pm


posted by: Eddie on May 14, 2014  6:51pm

$10,000 for a report that contains 15 pages of analysis? They are getting over $660.00 per page of analysis.  With such value, it is unfortunate that they chose to fill a third of many of the pages with photographs that could have been produced with 5 minutes of work on google maps.

They hold a meeting with 77 people from Dixwell and come up with only 14 bullet points for analysis?  This comes to nearly $50 per bullet point and over 5 people’s input for each bullet point.  At least they provide new insights!!  Consider the gems, “The community’s youth must be engaged,” and “Need to find better ways to communicate amongst themselves.”  This reads like someone spaced out for most of the meeting and then just typed verbatim the 14 notes he managed to take.  These 77 people who took time out of their day to improve their neighborhood deserve better. 

I deeply value Harp’s commitment to develop neighborhoods across New Haven.  This is one of her most important campaign promises.  It is unfortunate that John and Kent are not treating this vital goal with the urgency it demands.  Hiring these fellows for further support strikes me as a mistake.

posted by: Noteworthy on May 14, 2014  7:15pm

This is their best idea? Form a task force and hire us to do more consulting. No and No. This was a rotten idea to hire this group. It’s like going to a surgeon and asking him if you need surgery - of course you do, the surgeon will say. It was just the other week that the city hired a new pension fund manager - and guess what? They suggested hiring them for expanded services too. Can we please get smart?

Get some smart people around the table, get some Yale biz students, a couple of community people and get busy. Forget these guys who want to help us develop a plan, and will do none of the work.

posted by: cupojoe on May 14, 2014  8:09pm


1. there is a sucker born every minute! Sometimes 2.

2. A fool and their money are soon parted!

It could’ve been worse…:

“Between 2010 and 2012, The New Yorker reports that “more than twenty million dollars of Zuckerberg’s gift and matching donations went to consulting firms with various specialties: public relations, human resources, communications, data analysis, [and] teacher evaluation.” Many of the consultants were being paid upwards of $1,000 a day.”


posted by: Eddie on May 14, 2014  9:19pm

On a related note, it is interesting to compare the lessons from the neighborhood meetings contained within John and Kent’s report and the write-ups by the NHI.  The NHI is more detailed, has a much better appreciation for the broader context of the neighborhoods, and draws more insightful implications.  It would be great to see the NHI undertake more of analysis, particularly to give more voice to current small business owners and neighborhood residents!!

posted by: Theodora on May 15, 2014  8:27am

Forming a committee is a big idea? I can’t imagine how they’d spin a meeting with bagels and coffee? Perhaps a “task force engagement conclave” at the tune of $10k?

posted by: Shaggybob on May 15, 2014  10:33am

Yeah and I have bridge I can sell you too.

These guys have got to go- they were hired for input and their input was to hire them for more consulting, NICE TRY.

Lets not be suckers and show them the exit to the City.