DMV ‘Express Office’ can help remedy past mistakes
For those who are old enough to remember, the city, specifically City Hall, was once the site of the State Superior Court. Two courtrooms, now meeting rooms, were fitted out on the second floor and regular sessions were conducted.
That arrangement continued until the late 1980s, when Mayor Azelio “Sal” Guerra and the State of Connecticut became embroiled in a controversy over payment of rent. The state had an agreement to reimburse the city and had fallen into arears. Eventually, the court moved to the former Milford High School complex, where it continues to this day.
The loss of the court was considered to be one of the reasons the city’s downtown shopping district fell into hard times. The traffic and patrons generated by court helped retail businesses prosper. Once the court moved, traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, fell dramatically.
The result was the closure of several retail outlets, some that had been landmarks in the city from pre-Depression days. Since then, politicians have talked the talk of reintroducing people to the downtown area with little result. The most recent attempt was and is the West Haven Arts Center, the former Masonic Temple on Center Street.
The Arts Center, first announced in 2009, has languished with little done in the last five or six years due to lack of funds. The project is not city funded. All revenues are to be generated through private donations. Currently, there are no estimates as to when the funding goals – and the construction deadlines – can be completed.
The office will handle renewals of some DMV documentation, and is expected to take the pressure off local DMV offices, which have had increased patronage since the Connecticut Motor Club AAA ceased its agreement with the department in 2016 in New Haven and Fairfield.
While we don’t expect it to be a game-changer, last week’s opening of the Department of Motor Vehicles opened an “Express Office” in the basement of City Hall in conjunction with the West Haven Chamber of Commerce. This is can become a boost the downtown district needs.
Businesses need foot and vehicular traffic. People coming into the City Hall area will, we hope, utilize the businesses around the Green. More people, more commerce, more prosperity.
The West Haven Chamber, under Executive Director Alan Olenick – also an owner of this newspaper – has worked diligently to make this office a reality. This is one of the most proactive projects attempted by the Chamber in many years. Olenick is attempting to change the culture of the organization, giving it a high profile than it has had in several years.
Mayor Nancy Rossi and before her former Mayor Edward O’Brien are to be commended for seeing the benefits such an office will give to the city.
It is a small move, but it will be beneficial to an area of the city that has seen little in the way of positive development over the last two decades.
Pay attention or pay cash
City towing companies were kept quite busy over the last several months with the report that more than 400 vehicles were towed during snow emergencies, especially in the last several weeks. The problem has become so acute with illegally parked cars that city officials issued a reminder two weeks ago during the last Nor’easter.
While one can look at the situation as “the driver’s loss is the city’s gain,” when it comes to fines and towing fees, the problem is more serious than that. City officials issue snow reminders from about mid-October through the winter and into the early spring. This newspaper has printed the city’s snow emergency route directives more than a dozen times this season alone.
Motorists, particularly those who are in rentals it seems, have to be more aware and make themselves more aware of what is expected during a snow emergency. Seldom is a snowstorm something unexpected.
Cars parked along the route make it difficult for plows to clear the streets, and that makes it more dangerous for all of us.
We urge motorists, particularly those along the city’s snow emergency thoroughfares, to make the effort to learn when an emergency exists and give city crews the opportunity to make the streets safe for all.