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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Zullo

Rep. Joe Zullo: East Haven needs assurances that Tweed “master plan” will improve town's bottom line

EAST HAVEN — Regarding the Tweed “Master Plan” meeting held virtually on March 10, 2021, State Rep. Joe Zullo released the following comments:

“As the airport continues to develop its “master plan,” it is important for East Haven to have “a seat at the table” – but that seat alone is meaningless if it is not accompanied by concrete, substantive action by the State, the City of New Haven, the airport, and other regional players to ensure that our residents’ quality of life concerns are addressed and respected and that the airport’s master plan stands to tangibly benefit our residents and taxpayers.

To-date, we have heard that a self-sustaining, profitable airport will save the City of New Haven and the State of Connecticut the need to pay millions of dollars in subsidies. Those subsidies should be phased out in the long term. However, in the immediate short term, the portion remitted by the State should be redirected to the Town of East Haven, or to a special development district encompassing the areas surrounding the airport, to revitalize those neighborhoods and help increase property values, especially along our West End Corridor and feeder streets like Charter Oak Avenue and Dodge Avenue.

Tonight, we heard that locating a new terminal with access from Hemingway Avenue would relieve the City of New Haven and East Shore neighborhoods of traffic and noise pollution. However, it will redirect that same traffic and noise to East Haven and areas along Frontage Road, Saltonstall Parkway, Hemingway Avenue, and Proto Drive. As promised, Rep. Scanlon has presented plans for a community benefits package for East Haven residents to mitigate noise that may be generated by increased traffic and air service. However, in addition to these benefits, the Town should seek guarantees of funding for sidewalk, streetscape, and other improvements in affected neighborhoods to compensate for the all-but-certain wear and tear expanded pedestrian and vehicular traffic will take on our town’s infrastructure.

If the master plan moves forward as proposed, it is also critical that a special “opportunity zone” initiative be implemented to foster and incentivize economic development along key gateways in East Haven. The State, as a partner in this, should also study the feasibility of building new transit-oriented development in East Haven, including any opportunities for rail service in non-residential, undeveloped areas of Town.

Regional players, including Yale, the local and regional chambers of commerce, and others continue to laud the economic development benefits of expanded service at Tweed. However, town leaders and residents alike deserve to know how East Haven residents will specifically benefit from the proposed master plan. What are the short term and long-term job opportunities for residents in our community? What kind of economic development can the town expect to see from expanded service? Can we expect development to allow the town to mitigate future tax increases? Residents deserve to see an economic pro forma so that our community can make an informed decision on whether this is a deal that helps or hurts our community.

Over the years, East Haven has been made many promises about the airport, most of which have been walked back or quite simply just broken. Rep. Scanlon’s leadership at the airport is reassuring, and I feel he has already made good faith attempts to rebuild trust with our community and with neighbors through better and more substantive communication. Through him, we have open dialogue and East Haven has a seat at the table. However, now that we are there, we need assurances that the promises made there will be kept and that all of the players in this equation will work to guarantee that this master plan improves our community’s bottom line, increases our residents’ quality of life, and expands economic and job opportunities for East Haven and other key players in the region.”

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