Haven Project just another city mess
West Haven is a hot mess!
According to an article appearing in the Aug. 26,edition of the New Haven Register, “The Haven” high-end mall project is dead as a door-nail. No one in the city should be surprised about that. The end-result of years of work on the part of the city is that an entire residential neighborhood has been turned into a blighted zone; an eyesore which has been relegated to occasional use as a bomb training facility for the FBI. The city should utilize every means in its power to sue the would-be developer to recover damages and demolish the rows of dilapidated structures.
Meanwhile, the city is about to agree to a sweetheart deal with the New England Brewing Company (NEBCO) to build a beer factory on prime shoreline real estate, adjacent to Savin Rock. The result of that endeavor will be to create an eyesore which generates a huge amount of traffic on Kelsey Avenue and Captain Thomas Boulevard. Moreover, the exceedingly large structure will ruin the character of the Boardwalk and mar one of West Haven’s only remaining attractions. Wise city leadership would negotiate to locate the NEBCO facility on the site of the failed Haven high-end mall project. Concerned residents should file a lawsuit contesting the Zoning Board of Appeals’ specious ruling that housing the Savin Rock Museum inside NEBCO’s facility constitutes a hardship justifying the requested zoning variances. The dubious legality of the board’s ruling demands judicial review.
Finally, I’m sure many residents were shocked to learn of Mayor Rossi’s and the City Council’s five-year tax plan filed with the Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB) to raise property taxes to among the highest in Connecticut. According to an article appearing in the Aug. 26, edition of the New Haven Register, and entitled “MARB Takes Issue with City’s 5-year Tax Hike Plan;” MARB members appeared aghast that city officials proposed such a humongous tax increase upon their residents. “‘That is huge and it’s not sustainable,’ MARB member Bob White said, pointing out that would make West Haven’s tax rate among the highest in the state.” According to the article, the city’s proposed property tax hike plan, with combined property and Fire District taxes, would increase from 44.6 mills to 51.71 mills. Finally, the article notes that the city’s proposed 3% yearly increases in the mill rates were the maximum increases it could enact while under Tier IV oversight.
Moreover, those outrageous rates of taxation were provided to the MARB when the city was still expecting a $10 million increase in its Grand List in 2026, owing to anticipated tax revenue from The Haven mall, which has now vanished. A mass exodus of taxpayers would surely occur if anything close to those outrageous taxation rates are actually enacted. Indeed, few residents, if any, would pay the highest property taxes in Connecticut to reside in the City of West Haven.
With city leadership committing serial debacles, which always culminates in costing West Haven taxpayers more and more money, something desperately needs to change. The current state of affairs leaves beleaguered and broke residents to ask, “Can they do anything right?” Clearly, West Haven is the worst-managed city in the state, and it’s getting worse by the day.
Some residential projects are OK
I do not agree with your final statement (in the editorial of Sept. 1) that housing will further tax our resources, while adding nothing to the tax base. It depends on the TYPE of housing developed and the demographics of the buyers. What about retirees with hefty financial assets who would love to live on waterfront property close to New Haven and our shoreline? The land that was to be The Haven would be highly desirable and alluring for such an audience, who don’t have children who need to be educated in our West Haven schools, and are impervious to higher taxes.
I present as an example Fieldstone, the over 55 retirement community on Grassy Hill Road in Orange, built over the last 5 years, currently selling from the high $500’s to the low $800’s- and it isn’t waterfront!!! I believe that a plan designed for the demographics I reference, possibly combined with commercial real estate such as restaurants, an attractive marina, etc. would be of tremendous benefit to West Haven’s tax base without creating a resource burden. Traditional retail is dead, but prime waterfront land is GOLD and West Haven is so lucky to have it!
Let’s all hope that the property is sold to a developer with a plan that really works.