Fighting to Save Dwight's "Town Green" From Development
"The liberal provision of parks in a city is one of the surest manifestations of the…degree of civilization, and progressiveness of its citizens."—John Charles Olmsted
25 Kensington Street, New Haven CT
JUNE 25 UPDATE
Thanks to everyone who has generously donated to our Campaign to Save Kensington Playground! If you would like to donate visit: GoFundMe
We have an update to share with you on our lawsuit:
Our lawsuit hearing began earlier this month. Judge Young dismissed the first count (7-131n)—not because he disagreed with our assertion about the city’s potential violation of public hearing and comparable replacement requirements—rather, he agreed with the city that the Friends of Kensington Playground do not have adequate legal standing to sue the city under that state law, as we don’t have any specific, personal, and legal interest in the Kensington Playground dispute.
Our attorney, Keith Ainsworth, has told us that Count Two, which is the CT Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is the crux of the case, and that knocking out Count One (7-131n) has no effect on the issues in our case or the proofs required or the remedies available.
In other words, the City made a technical legal point at great expense to New Haven taxpayers, but they still face the same questions about the taking and replacement of community park land under a different statute.
You can read more about it here in New Haven Independent’s coverage:
Regarding our finances:
We have paid all our bills to date in full; However, now that we are in court, we expect another legal bill soon. So, our fundraising continues.
Separate from our efforts to save Kensington Playground, we are reaching out to all the Community Management Teams/CMTs, asking if they will support a resolution that “Every New Haven neighborhood should have a minimum of at least one decent public playground with a playscape and a working splash pad, and a park with mature trees to provide respite from summer heat.” To date, Westville CMT has agreed to support the resolution, and one other CMT has been responsive.
And on a related note:
The International Festival of Arts & Ideas is offering a walking tour of Dwight, which includes Kensington Playground: Public Discourse in the Time of Historic Preservation. Visit here to join the walk: https://www.artidea.org/event/2021/4536
Take a Stand for Democracy:
Protecting Dwight’s only public playground from sale and development is costly, even though we have done as much of the work as possible ourselves. Please be as generous as you can. Don’t let the City take this playground for $1 with an illegal process. Take a stand for democracy. Require our City, State and federal governments to follow the law.
We Support Affordable Housing:
The Friends of Kensington Playground has given the City and TCB a list of alternative sites they could use. We support affordable housing—just not on our valued parkland.
THE LEGAL FIGHT
Our legal fight against the sale of Kensington Playground consists of several elements:
In November 2020, we filed a legal complaint against the City of New Haven citing CEPA and 7-131n.
CEPA, the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act, establishes a process by which state agencies must identify and review their proposed “actions which may significantly affect the environment”. The core purpose of CEPA is to provide a public process for state agencies to identify and assess the extent to which their proposed actions may potentially affect the environment, and to evaluate alternatives to avoid or minimize such impacts.
CT General Statute 7-131n requires that when a municipality takes land previously intended for use as park or for other recreational or open space purposes, it must hold a dedicated public hearing on the issue, replace the parkland with parkland of equal value and size, and provide the public with the replacement land at the public hearing.
In November 2020, separate from the legal complaint, we requested both a NEPA Review and a Section 106 Review.
The National Environment Policy Act (NEPA ) requires preservation of aspects of our historic, cultural and environmental heritage as much as possible. Since the Federal government is funding part of the construction on the parkland, a NEPA review is appropriate.
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires review and consideration of federal or federally funded activities that can have an impact on properties listed in or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The proposed construction is within the Dwight Street National Historic District on land eligible for the National Register. Thus, a Section 106 review is required.
In January 2021, through our attorney, we provided the City of New Haven with several alternative building sites. You can review that document here.
If you have any questions, please reach out to us through the contact button,
or call Pat at two zero three 285-5077.
MAKE A DONATION AND HELP US SAVE THIS PLAYGROUND AND PARK
We are appealing to the community for donations to help with legal costs and, if we win, to improve the parks's playscape.
We will accept donations through our Save Kensington Playground GoFundMe campaign here
If you prefer to donate by check, please send your check payable to Friends of Kensington Playground, c/o 66 Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT 06511.
Note: Friends of Kensington Playground is a registered public charity with the State of CT Department of Consumer Protection. We are an incorporated non-profit, but not tax exempt, so your donation is not tax deductible.
IN SUPPORT OF URBAN PARKS
These articles may be of interest to you.
AS RISING HEAT BAKES U.S. CITIES, THE POOR OFTEN FEEL IT MOST
NPR - MEG ANDERSON, SEAN MCMINN · SEPTEMBER 3, 2019
NPR analyzed 97 of the most populous U.S. cities using the median household income from U.S. Census Bureau data and thermal satellite images from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. In more than three-quarters of those cities, we found that where it's hotter, it also tends to be poorer. And at least 69 had an even stronger relationship than Baltimore, the first city we mapped.
This means that as the planet warms, the urban poor in dozens of large U.S. cities will actually experience more heat than the wealthy, simply by virtue of where they live. And not only will more people get sick from rising temperatures in the future, we found they likely already are. Read more
IN DEFENSE OF TALL TREES: IDENTIFY THE VALUABLE AND STRONGEST LARGE TREES IN CITIES AND TOWNS. THEN WORK TO KEEP THEM.
2015 article by CT DEEP Urban Forestry Coordinator Chris Donnelly
In the wake of recent storms in Connecticut, residents have criticized tall trees as threats to public safety and the reliability of electricity and cable lines. Yet, tall trees are very much a natural part of the Connecticut landscape.
DEADLY AIR POLLUTANT ‘DISPROPORTIONATELY AND SYSTEMATICALLY’ HARMS AMERICANS OF COLOR, STUDY FINDS
The Washington Post, April 28, 2021
By Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears
Nearly every source of the nation’s most pervasive and deadly air pollutantdisproportionately affects Americans of color, regardless of their state or income level, according to a study published Wednesday. The analysis of fine-particle matter, which includes soot, shows how decisions made decades ago about where to build highways and industrial plants continue to harm the health of Black, Latino and Asian Americans today.
PEOPLE OF COLOR BREATHE MORE HAZARDOUS AIR. THE SOURCES ARE EVERYWHERE.
New York Times, April 29, 2021
By Hiroko Tabuchi and Nadja Popovich
Over the years, a mountain of evidence has brought to light a stark injustice: Compared with white Americans, people of color in the United States suffer disproportionately from exposure to pollution.
Now, a new study on a particularly harmful type of air pollution shows just how broadly those disparities hold true. Black Americans are exposed to more pollution from every type of source, including industry, agriculture, all manner of vehicles, construction, residential sources and even emissions from restaurants. People of color more broadly, including Black and Hispanic people and Asian-Americans, are exposed to more pollution from nearly every source.
E.P.A. TO REVIEW RULES ON SOOT LINKED TO DEATHS, WHICH TRUMP DECLINED TO TIGHTEN
New York Times, June 10, 2021
The Biden administration says it will consider tougher limits on a deadly air pollutant that disproportionately affects low-income and minority communities.
The Biden administration will reconsider federal limits on fine industrial soot, one of the most common and deadliest forms of air pollution, with an eye toward imposing tough new rules on emissions from power plants, factories and other industrial facilities. Read more here.
In Dwight, we are in the 85th percentile in CT for this deadly particulate matter. We are in the 90th percentile in New England and in the 74th percentile in the nation.
See data from EPA here.
WHO WE ARE
We meet on the 4th Saturday of each month at 10 AM.
The Friends of Kensington Playground are a group of neighbors concerned about the sale of Kensington Playground. Despite outcry from the neighborhood, the City of New Haven voted to sell our park for $1 to The Community Builders (TCB), so that a 15-unit apartment building and a 15-space surface parking lot could be built on the parkland. Because 8 existing TCB apartments will be converted to TCB office space, there is a net gain of only 7 units
We campaigned against the sale at numerous city meetings, collected signatures and testimony against the sale, and door knocked to make residents aware of the sale.
In November 2020, we filed a lawsuit against the city over the sale citing CEPA and 7131-n. Separately, we also requested a NEPA review (since federal monies will fund the apartment building construction) and a Section 106 review (since the playground is within our historic district).
To join us and get involved, reach out to us through the contact button.
The Friends of Kensington Playground’s statement on the Oct 19 Board of Alders decision to sell Kensington Playground for $1 to The Community Builders:
“It is a bad day for democracy in New Haven. Only three Alders, Douglass, Festa, and Roth, stood with the neighborhood. Others relied on old stereotypes of Kensington Street to hijack our only playground to benefit a non-profit developer that has not been a good landlord. Kensington Playground is a major success story for Policing in New Haven. Lt. John Healy made it his top priority when taking over this policing district. As a result it is now a place we can use. The City did not follow the law. The Dwight Central Management Team never gave its support. Housing can be built without taking this playground from our children. Yet two of our three alders want to sacrifice a precious neighborhood asset rather than leading us to a win-win solution. We call upon the Mayor to reject this deal. We ask the City to convene a mediation process to help the parties find a housing solution without sacrificing our playground. That is the kind of leadership we need and deserve."
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT: ICE RINK CONTRACT, SCANTLEBURY SIGN APPROVED
July 22, 2021
One new sign, four temporary security bollards, and a new operator for the skating rink were all voted up.
No vote was taken — yet — on a proposed new policy asserting the right of every neighborhood in town to have a playscape or playground and a water area....
To Never Sell Park Land Again
If there were an elephant on the agenda, it was the proposal by Pat Wallace and The Friends of Kensington Playground that the commissioners formally adopt a policy that the city will never sell park land and that every neighborhood have at least one playground/playscape and a water element.
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT: GRASSROOTS QUEST AIMS TO SAVE PLAYGROUNDS
July 6, 2021
A proposal is making the rounds of New Haven neighborhood meetings. Its pitch: The Board of Parks Commissioners should never give up the only public park in a neighborhood, and it should always ensure each neighborhood has at least one playground with a playscape and a splash pad or water element. Read more here
LETTER: 'OFFICIALS IGNORED THE VOICES OF THE PEOPLE' IN SELLING CT PLAYGROUND
July 4, 2021
In the Dwight neighborhood of New Haven there is a struggle to save Kensington Playground, our only public playground. City officials want to give the playground away for affordable housing. Neighbors believe there are other places such housing can be built in this neighborhood. We believe the decision to give away the playground was made in an undemocratic way. Friends of Kensington Playground has sued the city and filed complaints with federal agencies. Read more
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT: JUDGE SIDES WITH CITY, DISMISSES HALF OF KENSINGTON PLAYGROUND LAWSUIT
June 17, 2021
A state judge threw out half of a lawsuit about the future of Kensington Playground, after agreeing with the city that a Dwight resident and a neighborhood parks group do not have legal standing to sue the city for selling the public greenspace. Read more
PARK CASE Q: CAN CITY “TAKE” FROM ITSELF?
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT
June 9, 2021
The first court hearing in a months-long dispute over the future of Kensington Playground raised a broader question: Can the city be accused of “taking” land that it already owns? Read more here
YALE DAILY NEWS: DWIGHT RESIDENTS DELIVER LETTERS TO MAYOR
May 4, 2021
Hamilton came to support a group of 12 Dwight residents on Monday afternoon who delivered 15 letters to New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker opposing the city’s $1 sale of Kensington Park to a developer in exchange for affordable housing. The letters were responses to the city’s March Environmental Review Report, which found “no significant impact on the human environment” caused by demolishing the playground. Monday marked the city’s deadline for public comment in response to the Environmental Review Report, which had to be submitted in writing to Elicker’s office.
Read more here
May 3, 2021
A city-commissioned report concluded that converting Kensington Playground into affordable apartments will not harm the environment. A group of neighbors strongly disagreed and took to the streets Monday to say so. Read more here
YALE DAILY NEWS: DWIGHT RESIDENTS ORGANIZE BIKE GIVEAWAY TO SAVE KENSINGTON PARK
April 19, 2021
On Saturday morning, a park in the Dwight neighborhood was abuzz with energy. Children raced along the sidewalk on new bikes and munched on snacks provided by a nearby church. Families reflected on what Kensington Playground means to the community. Read more here
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT: KIDS GET WHEELS AT KENSINGTON PLAYGROUND
April 18, 2021
Winter Carter, 5, received a new bike on Saturday morning — and jumped for joy. She was one of the 13 children who took bike and safety lessons and received refurbished bikes at the latest event to build public support for saving Kenginston Playground from becoming the site of new housing.
Read more here
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT: KIDS’ EASTER EVENT HIGHLIGHTS QUEST TO SAVE KENSINGTON PLAYGROUND
April 5, 2021
Friends of Kensington Playground and Upon This Rock Ministries distributed 48 Easter baskets and 30 bags filled of canned goods to Dwight residents on Saturday.
The giveaway was a part of Friends of Kensington Playground’s ongoing mission to save the pocket park on Kensington after the city sold the property to The Community Builders, INC. (TCB) to build affordable housing.
Friends of Kensington Park has collected over 200 signatures to a petition to save the playground. It has also collected over $7,000 through a GoFundMe campaign that will pay for filing a lawsuit against the city to stop the sale of the park to TCB.
Saturday’s giveaway was a part of the ongoing movement to shine light on how the space is essentially Dwight’s community green.
Read more here
YALE DAILY NEWS: LAWSUIT OVER DWIGHT PARK FOR HOUSING DEAL DELAYS CONSTRUCTION INDEFINITELY
Feb 8, 2021
A group of Dwight residents has filed a lawsuit against the Elm City, making a final stand against city plans to sell their local park — Kensington Playground — to a developer for affordable housing.
Read more here
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT: MAYOR JOINS PARK GROUP, AS (ANOTHER) PARKS GROUP SUES CITY
November 19, 2020
New Haven’s mayor joined a national coalition seeking more money for urban parks—while a group seeking to save an urban park in his backyard sued the city for selling it.
Those two public greenspace developments were announced in separate press releases.
Read more here
NEW HAVEN REGISTER: OUR CHILDREN NEED... TO PLAY’: NEW HAVEN PARK ADVOCATES FILE SUIT OVER $1 LAND SALE TO DEVELOPER
November 18, 2020
They are not giving up.
Friends of Kensington Playground filed a court complaint over the city’s decision to sell a Dwight neighborhood park for $1 to a developer as part of a plan to build affordable housing. Read more here
NEW HAVEN REGISTER:
IT’S ‘NOT LIKE THERE WILL BE NO GREEN SPACE’; NEW HAVEN ALDERS TRADE PARK FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
October 20, 2020
Affordable housing has trumped some green space as the Board of Alders voted to sell Kensington Park to The Community Builders, with 15 new units of affordable housing to be constructed at the site.
Aldermanic President Tyisha Walker-Myers, D-23, said she was confident the city had done its “due diligence” in the deal, which had been under consideration for some time. Immediate neighbors have said recently that they were not aware of the plans and argued that new housing be placed elsewhere.
Read the full article here
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT:
CITY SELLS PARK;
HOUSING CALL PREVAILS
October 20, 2020
On October 19, the Board of Alders voted overwhelmingly in support of trading a Kensington Street park for 15 new affordable apartments — but only after an impassioned debate about the relative merits of building low-income housing atop public green space.
Read the full article here
NEW HAVEN REGISTER: NEW HAVEN RESIDENTS OFFER CITY $2 TO SAVE PARK, THAT'S DOUBLE WHAT DEVELOPER IS PAYING
October 12, 2020
NEW HAVEN — Mayor Justin Elicker wouldn’t take the $2 symbolically offered to save Kensington Park, although it doubled what the city had received to sell it.
The proposed deal was already in motion.
The Board of Alders’ Community Development Committee voted Sept. 30 to sell the parcel to The Community Builders, a Boston-based developer, for $1 so it could use the site to build 15 units of affordable housing.
Along with the proposed new units, the project has garnered $30 million in federal funds to rehabilitate 96 older units owned by TCB and $100,000 in city Community Development Block Grant funds. The project also could mean new opportunities for living spaces in a city where 10,000 people are on a list for affordable housing.
Read the full article here.
YALE DAILY NEWS: DWIGHT RESIDENTS OPPOSE CITY’S PLAN TO DESTROY PARK FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
October 12, 2020
Just four blocks away from campus, there is a medium-sized park dotted with trees, benches and one broken splash pad. It’s also the center of a city-wide debate about the need for affordable housing and the significance of greenspace to local communities.
New Haven plans to sell Kensington Playground, a public park in the Dwight neighborhood, to a Boston-based developer for one dollar. In return, the developer will build 15 units of affordable housing on the site. The plan has met opposition from some Dwight residents, who see the park as a safe space for church-goers and children. As the final approval meeting for the apartment block approaches, residents have begun a push to rally city-wide support and defeat the land swap proposition. Read the full article here.
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT: MAYOR TURNS DOWN $2 FOR PARK
October 8, 2020
Pat and Nia confronted Mayor Elicker at his East Rock "Meet the Mayor"event and offer him $2 for KP, doubling TCB's offer of $1.
Read more here:
“I’m going to double our money,” Dwight neighborhood activist Pat Wallace told Elicker.
“It’s making me a bit emotional to see so much greenspace here in East Rock,” said Nia Campinha-Bacote “It’s far beyond any green space we have. What will you say to us? To the black and brown people who enjoy the park?”
Elicker noted that the deal includes public greenspace in Newhallville.
“How is putting land in another neighborhood going to help us?” responded Campinha-Bacote.
NEW HAVEN RESIDENTS TRYING
TO SAVE PARK AS CITY EYES IT
FOR NEW APARTMENTS
October 5, 2020
Check out Channel 3 reporter Matt McFarland's story on the Playground here. Matt speaks with three residents using the park.
NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT:
NEW HOUSING OK'D AFTER PARK SALE DEBATE
October 1, 2020
Read Tom Breen's coverage of the BOA Community Development Committee's hearing on the sale of Kensington Playground for $1 here.
Be sure to watch our neighborhood testimony in two video clips at the end of the article, particularly the second clip.
NEW HAVEN REGISTER:
A NEW HAVEN PARK PLAN CALLS FOR HOUSING; NEIGHBORS FEAR LOSS OF 'IMPORTANT ASSET'
October 1, 2020
Read Mary O'Leary's coverage of the Board of Alder's Community Development Committee's hearing here.
“It always seems impossible until it is done.” — Nelson Mandela
YOU LIVE HERE. GET INVOLVED.
MISS MAE'S SINGING AND STORYTELLING
SATURDAY, JUNE 12 AT 1:30 PM
Miss Mae will be in Kensington Playground! Join us for this free, fun kids event. Refreshments provided. Bring a chair.
Miss Mae is part of Arts and Ideas Festival's "Arts on Call
RENEÉ'S CLOSET, A CLOTHING GIVEAWAY
SATURDAY MAY 22, 10 AM - 1 PM
Update: Thank you to everyone who joins us for this great event. We gave away lots of clothing, books, and household items -- All free! Some folks filled a bag, others shopped for a new outfit. Everyone snagged a deal.
SIDEWALK CHALK ART
SATURDAY, MAY 15, 10 AM
Update: Thank you to everyone who joined us for this fun event!
Drawing and painting with chalk in Kensington Playground! We had a wonderful time using stencils, chalk and spray chalk on the sidewalks of the park.
KID'S BICYCLE SAFETY CLINIC
SATURDAY 4/17 10 AM
13 kids left with bicycles, helmets, lights, locks, and the skills to ride safety. Friends of Kensington Playground is grateful to all of the sponsors and individuals that made this event possible, including: Bikes for Kids, Chapel West, The Devil's Gear Bike Shop, Kryptonite Bike Locks, New Haven Department of Parks and Recreation, St Martin de Porres Church, and Upon This Rock Ministries, Paul Hammer, and Joel La Chance.
FOOD PANTRY, EASTER BASKET GIVEAWAY
SATURDAY 4/3 AT 10 AM
UPDATE: We had a wonderful event in the park. We met many new neighbor, lots of kids, and saw old friends.
Thanks to all who participated, and to Upon This Rock Ministries for holding the food pantry.
SATURDAY 11/21 AT 10 AM
Update: Thanks to everyone who came out to rake leaves with us. We have had a great time: terrific weather in the fall weather, meeting new neighbors, and
BOARD OF ALDERS, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MEETING
9/30 AT 6 PM.
Update: Despite powerful testimony against the deal, the BOA CDC voted in favor of the deal. Now the deal heads to the full BOA for a vote in mid Oct.
and check back here for more updates.
Read more in the New Haven Independent here
and in the New Haven Register here
Thank you to everyone who stood up for the playground and the children of Dwight neighborhood.
Tell the Board of Alders what YOU want the space to be! A better playground? Affordable ownership housing?
Let your voice be heard.
Join us in the playground on Wednesday, Sept 30 at 6 PM when we attend this meeting via Zoom.
Update: Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us. The highlight of the morning was creating a "Kids Play Here. Pick up after your dog." sign and poop bag station.
Join us in the playground Saturday morning, 9/1/20, at 10 AM to continue making signs opposing the sale of Kensington Playground to Community Builders for $1, so that housing and parking can be built over the parkland.
Materials and refreshments will be provided.
Please wear a mask.
WED 9/9/20 AT 6:30 PM IN THE PLAYGROUND
Update: Thanks to everyone who came out and made signs with us. We had a great night.
Join us Wednesday night for a community discussion about the playground. Tell us how you use the park and how we can make the playground better. We'll discuss how we can work together to save Kensington Playground.
Please wear a mask.
DWIGHT CENTRAL MANAGEMENT TEAM MEETING 9/1/20
Update: Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us at the meeting on Zoom in the Playground!
Your voice is important and appreciated.
Fight for what you want the space to be! Tell the DCMT Meeting on Tuesday, Sept 1 at 6:30 PM what YOU want to happen! Join the Community Meeting by computer on Zoom from the playground.
Photo Credit: Emily Hayes, New Haven Independent, March 9, 2020; image taken at an earlier DCMT meeting.
Update: Thanks to all the volunteers who joined us for this successful event!
Do you want the playground gone or made a good playground? If the neighborhood wants to get rid of the playground, should more rental housing be built, or affordable OWNERSHIP housing by a developer with a good track record?
Come for a playground cleanup and conversation, Saturday, August 29, 2020, 10 a.m. Rakes, leaf bags, disposable gloves, snacks provided. Please wear a mask.
CONTACT THE FRIENDS OF KENSINGTON PLAYGROUND
25 Kensington Street, New Haven CT