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Dale Kroop, Director
Economic Development and Neighborhood Revitalization
2750 Dixwell Ave.
Hamden, CT, 06518
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Newhall / Highwood Neighborhood Community Development Programs Conclude

11/11/2013

PROGRESS REPORT, NEWHALL COMMUNITY, FEBRUARY 2012

This report summarizes the progress regarding the role of the Hamden Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) role to provide homeowner information and program assistance in the Newhall Remediation Target area working along with the Community Liaison. There are many projects and programs that are occurring simultaneously in the community.

In March of 2008 a community study was completed by the Regional Growth Partnership. It was entitled “A Sustainable Revitalization Plan For the Newhall Neighborhood”. This plan, developed with community input offered a series of options for the future of the community. The most important recommendation was the need to provide direct assistance to homeowners separate from the remediation process and also to provide a commitment to improving quality of life issues such as recreation areas and flooding problems. Finally the plan called out for a commitment of funds that would eventually become the Newhall Community Development Fund for direct assistance to homeowners. These funds were recommended for the purchase and demolition of some homes and for structural repairs to others.

As part of the 2003 Consent Order it was contemplated that the Town and the DEP would jointly fund a position called the Community Liaison. At the end of 2009 the HEDC was designated by the Town of Hamden and approved by the DEP to hire and pay the Community Liaison to be a resource to the residents, coordinate efforts with DEP and Olin in the community, to assist all parties in the dissemination of information, be an advocate for the residents and to work closely with the HEDC staff. This position was contemplated in the consent order of 2003. The Town and DEP each contributed $40,000 for the first year with the goal of a three year commitment totaling $240,000 that each party would share equally. The funds for year one were deposited by HEDC and they completed an RFP process and eventually hired Evolution Enterprises (Richard Pearce) to become the Community Liaison for the Newhall/Highwood Community.

Mr. Pearce began work in July of 2010 and has continued to serve full time in this role. He attends all community meetings and weekly meetings among all the parties such as DEP, Olin DEP and all contractors. He has kept details notes and minutes of these meetings. Mr. Pearce’s efforts go far beyond what was anticipated. He is personally responsible for providing enough support and information to allow for residents to feel comfortable when they previously would not cooperate.

He has helped an untold number of residents to receive accurate information who would then sign access agreements because they had the correct information that was in their best interest. He has also served an important role in resolving policy and other issues with the Town of Hamden (i.e. traffic) and the other parties.

STRUCTURAL STUDY AND THE NEWHALL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FUND

In the fall of 2009 the HEDC contracted with the Town of Hamden who committed $400,000 to complete an evaluation of homes that were structurally damaged. This was critical information to determine how future program funds could be allocated to assist homeowners. The outcome at the time was to determine which homes were damaged due to waste fill, which houses would have to be demolished and which could be repaired, and to determine what additional assistance residents would require.

To develop this information, the HEDC hired a structural engineering firm, Heller and Johnson. HEDC had appraisals and title searches completed for homes that were considered for acquisition. To date the following numbers of tasks in this study phase have been completed.

  • Number of Homes Inspected and Report Generated: 95
  • Number of Appraisals Completed: 70
  • Cost estimates: 95
  • Title Searches: 25
As a result of this study the Town and the HEDC supported a plan by the State of CT to provide a grant (recommended in the neighborhood plan in 2008) in the amount of $5million to assist home owners in acquisition for the purposes of demolition or rehabilitation/resale or for the structural improvements necessary.

Projects Completed

HEDC has completed structural repairs on 95 hours. Repairs were conducted in basement columns and foundation walls, new roots, general patch and repairs of cracks and new floors, windows and doors. HEDC acquired 13 homes for demolition or rehab. Numerous residents were also relocated.

Quality of Life Issues:

Beyond the goals of assisting homeowners, one of the goals was to improve two other areas related to improving the quality of life for Newhall residents.

Rochford Field and Millrock Park: These two important parks are widely used by the community. Both of these parks are part of the consent order under which the Town will remediate and rebuild the parks.

In the summer and fall of 2010, the Town of Hamden completed a re-use plan that came out of several meetings with the community and professionals that provide recreation services. The plan was also reviewed and approved by a licensed environmental professional in terms of it viability considering the remediation scope for the two parks under the consent order. The result was a plan that was approved by the DEP in the late fall. A copy of that plan was previously sent to DEP and was approved.

In 2014 and beyond, the town will create final construction drawing and cost estimates for the remediation and redevelopment of the two parks. Funding for this activity will come from the Town of Hamden and the State of Connecticut.

Storm Drainage:

One of the most prevalent problems for homeowners was a regular unwelcome flooding of basements due to an aging infrastructure of piping, catch basins etc. The need is for both repair and maintenance. Additionally many key streets flood on a regular basis.

Because the remediation process provides a unique opportunity for engineers to observe sub-surface conditions, the Town committed funds to move ahead with a study of the need for capital improvements and maintenance of the storm drainage system in the community. The Town hired DTC, a civil engineering company who completed their study, has drafted of the report and recommendations which included a regular maintenance program and infrastructure upgrades.

Other Benefits:

Because of current activities, there have been many opportunities that the HEDC is taking advantage of.
The following represents examples.

  • Deconstruction Program: Through a grant from the Regional Workforce Alliance, the HEDC was able to begin a deconstruction program where by the in lieu of a normal demolition (and the impacts of dumping material in a landfill) of a home in the Newhall Neighborhood, the home will be taken apart and a large majority of the material will be recycled. The result of this initiative has been the classroom training of eight participants for eleven weeks in the field of deconstruction and a paid training program for eight weeks for each of the participants.
  • Energy Improvements: Since many of the homes will have significant renovations the opportunity is present for the HEDC to seek funding for an implement a Newhall Green Community Program. The program will attempt to leverage all resources (i.e. grants, tax credits for improvements such solar energy and low interest loans to make significant energy conservation improvements (i.e. windows, insulation etc) in several homes that are slated for renovations.
For further information of the Newhall Community Revitalization Program, contact Dale Kroop, Executive Director of the Hamden Economic Development Corporation at 203-287-7033 or dkroop@hamden.com.


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