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
THE FIGHT TO SAVE KENSINGTON PLAYGROUND
Friends of Kensington Playground is fighting to save Kensington Playground from development into a 15-unit apartment building and 15-car surface parking lot. (Because the developer is converting 8 existing apartments into office space, there will be a net gain of only 7 units of housing.)
Kensington Playground is the only public playground in the urban, low-income Dwight neighborhood of New Haven. The splash pad in Kensington Playground didn't work from 2017-2021, and was repaired in 2022 after pressure from Friends of Kensington Playground.
In October 2020 the New Haven Board of Alders sold Kensington Playground for $1 to The Community Builders, so that affordable housing could be built on the park. They did so despite outcry and testimony from many residents.
In November 2020 Friends of Kensington Playground filed a lawsuit to stop the sale of the parkland, citing the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) and CT Statute 7-131n (sometimes called the park replacement statute). In addition, separate from the legal complaint, we requested both a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review and a Section 106 (of the National Historic Preservation Act) Review.
In January 2021, we provided the City with a list of alternative building sites. We support affordable housing, but not on our park.
It is worth noting that Dwight has the lowest park acreage per capita in the city––even with Kensington Playground––according to the New Haven ParkScore Index, September 2021.
Besides holding Halloween and Holiday events, and bicycle, clothing and school supplies giveaways in Kensington Playground, Friends of Kensington Playground obtained written approval from every Community Management Teams (CMTs) for a resolution to present to city officials, mandating at least one playground per neighborhood with a playscape, (working) splashpad, and tall trees.
Friends of Kensington Playground’s ongoing lawsuit over lack of due process in the decision to develop Kensington Playground has led to a change in the developer’s plans, enabling renovation of their existing properties to proceed independently. We remain hopeful that our efforts will result in the city reclaiming and saving this valuable and irreplaceable neighborhood greenspace.
If we save Kensington Playground, Friends of Kensington Playground is committed to adding a playscape to the playground.
To read our latest update, visit our GoFundMe page
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 501(c)(3) charity. Donations are tax deductible.
This drawing was made by a child who lives adjacent to Kensington Playground.
IN SUPPORT OF URBAN PARKS
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Or maybe it was the fourth.
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REDLINING MEANS 45 MILLION AMERICANS ARE BREATHING DIRTIER AIR, 50 YEARS AFTER IT ENDED
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Decades of federal housing discrimination did not only depress home values, lower job opportunities and spur poverty in communities deemed undesirable because of race. It’s why 45 million Americans are breathing dirtier air today, according to a landmark study released Wednesday.
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UNDERSTANDING CHILD-FRIENDLY URBAN DESIGN
Brookings Institute, October 21, 2021
To address children’s language and spatial skills, cities around the world are beginning to invest in Playful Learning Landscapes (PLL)—installations and programming that promote children and families’ learning through play in the public realm. A new PLL metrics frameworkprovides a roadmap to collect data that demonstrates PLL’s tremendous potential to narrow opportunity gaps while creating more livable and playful cities. Read more here
TO COMBAT GUN VIOLENCE, CLEAN UP THE NEIGHBORHOOD
New York Times, October 8, 2021
Until a Black man turns 45, his most likely cause of death is homicide. After each such violent death, traumatic shock waves pierce through family and friends. Whole neighborhoods suffer. In some communities with high rates of violent crime, babies are more likely to be born early, children are more likely to struggle in school and adults are more likely to report being depressed, as well as face increased risk of heart disease.
read more here
TREES COULD BE A MENTAL, PHYSICAL AND CLIMATE CHANGE ANTIDOTE
NPR, September 18, 2021
A growing body of research shows the many ways trees improves our mental and physical health. There's a push to understand more. Read more
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.
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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
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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.
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E.P.A. TO REVIEW RULES ON SOOT LINKED TO DEATHS, WHICH TRUMP DECLINED TO TIGHTEN
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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.
YOU LIVE HERE. GET INVOLVED.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 3-5 PM
Update: Thank you to everyone who joined us! We had a wonderful time, choosing kids books, making ornaments and decorating the tree, playing in leaves, and drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies. See our Facebook page for images from the event.
Join us for a HOLIDAY CELEBRATION around the Christmas Tree in Kensington Playground as we celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, and 3 Kings Day.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1-4 P.M.
Join us for this fun, free family orientated event! Kid's can decorate pumpkins and play Pumpkin Balloon Pop. There will be cider and refreshments for everyone, and the splash pad will be turned into a colorful ballon arch for taking festive pictures.
Renee's Closet will be giving away free clothing, too.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 2-4 PM
Join us for a fun, free Neighborhood Cookout on Saturday, August 6 from 2-4 PM in Kensington Playground. We’ll have chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers, as well as family friendly games including corn hole.
Enjoy the coolest spot in our neighborhood—the Kensington Playground splash pad!
We need volunteers to help staff this event, and we welcome donations to cover the cost of this event.
clicking ‘Create a page from this item’ in the edit panel.
SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 1-3 PM
Update: Thank you to everyone who joined us and helped make this an egg-cellent event. We were hop-py to see you! Here's a slideshow of the fun!
Join us for this fun, free event! There will be games and activities for children and their families, including:
Easter Basket Giveaway
Photos with Easter Bunny
Easter Egg Hunt
Easter Bonnet Decorating and Parade
Books for Kids
Renee's Closet Clothing Giveaway
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 12, 3-4:30 P.M.
UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who joined us for this event! Kids, families, and neighbors gathered around a Christmas tree to drink hot chocolate, eat delicious cookies and clementines, create holiday ornaments, and decorate the tree. Kids chose free books compliments of New Haven. At 4 p.m. when we turned on the lights, the park was filled with song as Tangled Up In Blue, Yale’s Folk Music Group, led a carol sing. It was heartwarming to see so many residents using the playground. Click here to see images from the event.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31 FROM 1-4
Update: Thank you to everyone who joined us for this event! Kids decorated pumpkins, played games, and trick or treated for candy, and enjoyed delicious food with their families. Thanks to all the organizations, businesses, and individuals who made our event possible. Here's a slideshow of the event.
Join us for this family friendly event! Food, music, sweets, and cider, including Chicken Wings from Mama Mary's Soul Food.
There will also be pumpkin decorating and games for kids!
Costumes welcome. Please wear a mask.
RENEE’S CLOSET, POP-UP VACCINATION CLINIC
SATURDAY, AUGUST 21
10 AM - 1 PM
Update: We had a wonderful event! Thanks to all who attended! Thanks to Griffin Health and our volunteers!
Free walk up vaccination clinic, and a clothing and back-to-school supplies giveaway.
Free and open to all!
MISS MAE'S SINGING AND STORYTELLING
SATURDAY, JUNE 12 AT 1:30 PM
Update: Thanks to everyone who joined us for this event, and to Miss Mae for her wonderful stories and songs.
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.
WHO WE ARE
We meet on Saturday at 10 a.m.
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, 2020, 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."
BECOME A MEMBER
Join Our Organization
Submit the form below to join Friends of Kensington Playground. Help us save and improve Kensington Playground.
“It always seems impossible until it is done.” — Nelson Mandela
CONTACT THE FRIENDS OF KENSINGTON PLAYGROUND
25 Kensington Street, New Haven CT