No parking on the dance floor

There are a lot of policy wonks out there. Heck, this blog does a lot of flapping its gums. For a while, the mayor of New Haven, John DeStefeno, has been talking about transit-oriented development (TOD) as the guiding light for the city�s future. And rightfully so. New Haven had a bit of a rough period when manufacturing jobs fled in the second half of the last century. So, while the renaissance of New Haven in the last 20 years may have something to do with the hundreds of millions of federal research dollars that come to Yale, it also surely has to do with it being connected to rest of Connecticut�s shoreline cities and, of course, New York City by commuter rail. Those rails now leave New Haven poised to be a major business and transit hub as density continues to increase.
Photo: Union Station and surrounding areas from New Haven Parking Authority.
DeStefano has made the pitch for TOD in a slideshow he was taking around town last year that addressed both short term and long term development priorities, as the city sees it anyhow. Anyone who has taken the MetroNorth to New Haven�s Union Station knows that there�s a lot of room for some smart growth around the train station.
While it�s only a 10 or 15 minute walk to downtown or the New Haven Green, it�s not a pretty walk. Outdated concrete bunker housing projects, the brutal NH Police Station, some highway off and on-ramps, surface parking lots, and the not-so human scale edge of downtown greet any takers. There�s vast potential for not only making this walk a friendly one, but for putting these areas to better use. I wouldn�t be surprise if Donald Trump were to buy up some land around the station to build a residential high-rise in the next decade. There�s the serious question of what will become of the low-income housing as there have been some blunders in New Haven�s past, but most people will agree that the Church St South projects are not very hospitable and impenetrable by foot traffic in their current form.
This is all a long preamble to DeStefano and United Illuminating, the local power company, going at it during a press conference last week.
The mayor�s primary goal was to criticize the planned electricity rate hike. However, it got real interesting when the mayor tried to call out UI for planning to abandon their New Haven offices and move to the suburbs in 2012 when their current lease expires. He was joined by the usual Connecticut political suspects in criticizing this "dumb growth." Some UI execs crashed the party and it turned into a shouting match. DeStefano let UI know he was displeased, especially given that UI had essentially abandoned an old plant in 1999 that remains a brownfield site.
UI argued that employee parking in New Haven was too expensive and, of course, the cheap real estate in Orange would be able offer ample parking for its employees. Why does almost everything in New Haven come down to parking? Homer Simpson may call parking "the cause of, and solution to, all of New Haven�s problems."

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