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FRIENDS OF
KENSINGTON PLAYGROUND

Fighting to Save Dwight's "Town Green" From Development

25 Kensington Street, New Haven CT

 
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APRIL UPDATE

Thanks to everyone who has generously donated to our Campaign to Save Kensington Playground! To date, we have raised more than $7,000!  $3,910 was the cost of our recent legal bill, of which we can pay $2,000. Our fundraising continues. We expect another bill from our lawyer in early April.  If you would like to donate visit: GoFundMe

Our next Friends of Kensington Playground general meeting is Saturday, April 24 at 10 a.m. If the weather permits, we’ll meet in the park.


EVENTS

Friends of Kensington Playground will hold these events in the park.  Please come and please wear a mask.

  • Food Pantry and Easter Basket Giveaway: Saturday, 4/3, 10 a.m., til supplies run out.  To donate candy or to volunteer to help to assemble the baskets or to help that day, contact us below.  Thanks to Pastor Valerie Washington for holding the food pantry.

  • Kids Bike Safety Clinic: Saturday, 4/17, 10 a.m.-12 Noon.  We need volunteers to help with logistics that day.  We need donations of water and snacks.  To help, contact us below.

  • Clothing/Household Goods Giveaway – May, date pending.  Additional details will be shared soon. We need volunteers and donations of clothing in good, clean ready to wear condition (especially men’s).  To help and get involved, reach out to us through the contact button below.


UPDATE
Friends of Kensington Playground lawsuit
in State court:

  • The City of New Haven has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit (on the grounds of lack of standing).  One Friend owns her home and lives across the street, so we expect to win on that.

  • The Community Builders (TCB) has filed a motion to be a party in the lawsuit.  The judge has said no for now.

A ruling is expected on both requests this month.


The Mayor said no to mediation at this month’s neighborhood meeting, choosing instead to spend taxpayer funds needlessly to defend a lawsuit.  There are win-win options.  Mediation could be helpful.


National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act challenges:

  • The State Historic Preservation Office did an archeological review of the Playground, which was a 19th century farm before houses were built there in the early 20th century.  They wanted to know if building on the site would cause harm to archeological remains.  They made a finding of “conditional no adverse effect.” Friends of Kensington Playground wrote back to say that the historic significance has to be judged on broader grounds.  We asked the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to get involved.  They have asked the City of New Haven to explain how people in the community were involved in consideration of the sale of the site and how a review of the site’s historic significance was done in advance of the decision to sell it. 


Person of Significance and Historic Preservation of the Playground:

  • Charles W. Dickerman (1817-1897) was a horticulturalist who did research on plants and trees on his farm.  The farm extended the full length of the east side of Kensington St, from Chapel St. to Edgewood Ave.  Part of that block is now Kensington Playground.  There is an oil painting of Charles in the New Haven Museum, as well as a large archive of the information from his scientific work.  A garden could be added to the playground to showcase his work.

  • In 1870, Charles wrote a book: How to Make the Farm Pay; or, The Farmer's Book of Practical Information on Agriculture, Stock Raising, Fruit Culture, Special Crops, Domestic Economy & Family Medicine. The book is still in print and available in libraries. It was translated into German and Japanese, and was widely advertised.   Farmers were hired to sell it to other farmers.

  • Charles and his brother William founded the W&C Dickerman & Co. in 1851, a carriage manufacturing business in New Haven.  There is an archive at the Museum about their business.

Protecting Dwight’s only 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. 

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.

Thank you.

 

Our video was filmed, edited, and produced by Collin at Tangible Planet Photography.   https://www.tangibleplanet.com

Thanks, Collin!

 
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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.

 
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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. 

 

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, so that a 15-unit apartment building and a 15-space surface parking lot could be built on the parkland.

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.

 
 
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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."

 

MEDIA COVERAGE

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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EYEWITNESS NEWS:
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.

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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.

 
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Don't let Mayor Elicker and the City

take our playground!  


Sign our online petition here

 
 
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“It always seems impossible until it is done.”   — Nelson Mandela


 

YOU LIVE HERE.  GET INVOLVED.

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.

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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.

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PARK CLEAN-UP
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

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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.

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SIGN-MAKING
SAT. 9/12/20 

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.

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COMMUNITY MEETING 

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.  

Refreshments provided.

Please wear a mask.

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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.

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PLAYGROUND
CLEANUP

8/29/20

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.  

Men Volunteering
 

CONTACT THE FRIENDS OF KENSINGTON PLAYGROUND

25 Kensington Street, New Haven CT

 

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