City Notes
Extended stay hotel chain announces plans for Sawmill Rd.; follow West Haven City Hall on Facebook

A rendering shows the four-story, 123-room WoodSpring Suites extended stay hotel that Wichita, Kan.-based WoodSpring Hotels LLC is proposing to build at 480 Sawmill Road, the former site of Staples. The $10 million, 48,391-square-foot project, which should take about 18 months to complete, is expected to create eight to nine full- and part-time jobs and generate an estimated $200,000 in annual property tax revenue for the city. (WoodSpring Hotels LLC)

Extended stay hotel chain announces plans for Sawmill Rd.; follow West Haven City Hall on Facebook

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 23, 2016 — WoodSpring Hotels, the nation’s fastest-growing extended stay hotel brand, has announced plans to build an all-suites hotel in West Haven, the company’s first in Connecticut and the Northeast.

WoodSpring Hotels LLC, based in Wichita, Kansas, is in the process of filing plans with the Department of Planning and Development to construct a four-story, 123-room WoodSpring Suites at 480 Sawmill Road, said Scott W. Bixler, the company’s senior vice president of development.

“The New Haven market, particularly West Haven, is a great fit for our continued growth,” Bixler said. “Leading industries like health care and manufacturing, the proximity to New York City and Interstate 95, ongoing construction projects, and universities like Yale and Quinnipiac and the University of New Haven all attract guests who want the homelike comforts an extended stay hotel provides at prices that fit their budget.”

Bixler said the latest WoodSpring building designs feature kitchenettes with a refrigerator, freezer, microwave and cooktop in each room. They also include such common spaces as a fitness center, expanded lobby space, a small necessities market and guest laundry facilities.

Bixler said the hotel provides free Wi-Fi to all guests and offers space for employee training and development and small meetings for employees and guests.

“I am very pleased to announce this exciting new hotel development in West Haven,” Mayor Edward M. O’Brien said. “This project will incorporate the former location of Staples, a prime chunk of real estate that has been vacant for more than a decade, and will continue and enhance the transformation of Sawmill Road into a first-class commercial and retail corridor.”

Colonial Properties Inc. of Orange, a commercial real estate brokerage company, is handling the sale of the Sawmill Road parcel, which “should close in the near future,” according to officials familiar with the deal.

On Tuesday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved WoodSpring’s request for a text change to a zoning district regulation to pave the way for the proposed 48,391-square-foot hotel.

The $10 million project, which should begin in early spring, is expected to create eight to nine full- and part-time jobs and generate an estimated $200,000 in annual property tax revenue for the city, said Joseph A. Riccio Jr., commissioner of planning and development.

Bixler said the hotel should take about 18 months to complete and open in late 2018.

The 2.88-acre site houses a 19,000-square-foot building previously occupied by Staples, which closed in 2002, and Furniture Ave., which opened in 2005 and shuttered shortly after, along with a parking lot with several dozen spaces. The property, owned by West Haven Mall LLC, has been vacant ever since.

WoodSpring Suites would sit off I-95’s Exit 42 next to two other major hotel franchises on Route 162: the seven-story, 100-room Best Western Executive Hotel at 490 Sawmill Road and the four-story, 101-room Hampton Inn & Suites at 510 Sawmill Road.

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O’Brien declares Nov. 26 Small Business Saturday in city

O’Brien declares Saturday Small Business Saturday in city

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 23, 2016 — Mayor Edward M. O’Brien has announced the city’s participation in the seventh annual Small Business Saturday on Saturday.

Falling between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is a day to celebrate and support the small, independently owned businesses that help boost local economies across the country.

Before taking office in 2013, O’Brien was the founder and owner of GoldWorks at 499 Campbell Ave., a jewelry repair and retail shop that has operated in the heart of the downtown business district for nearly three decades.

So, naturally, when it came time to endorsing a day that promotes small businesses, O’Brien was more than on board.

“As a former downtown merchant, I am proud to highlight the array of small businesses in our city and the invaluable contributions they make to our economy and the civic and cultural life of our community,” O’Brien said. “I encourage residents and visitors alike to make every effort to patronize West Haven’s small businesses on Nov. 26.”

Small Business Saturday was established in 2010 in response to the most pressing need of small-business owners — more customers — and has served as the ceremonial kickoff to the holiday shopping season for small businesses ever since.

According to American Express, more than 95 million consumers shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday last year.

In recognizing the importance of supporting independent businesses, O’Brien has issued a Small Business Saturday proclamation declaring the special observance in West Haven.

“The city of West Haven, Connecticut, supports our local businesses that create jobs, boost our local economy and preserve our neighborhoods,” the proclamation reads.

Saturday also marks the lighting of the Christmas tree on the Green. The yearly event attracts hundreds of people, many of whom O’Brien hopes will take advantage of sales at downtown specialty shops.

To help the city’s small businesses advertise their participation in Small Business Saturday, toolkits and other resources are available at, where business owners can create free downloadable marketing materials for their storefronts, social media pages and websites.

Similar to last year, Women Impacting Public Policy, a nonpartisan small-business advocate and operational arm of the Small Business Saturday Coalition, is rallying mayors nationwide to show their support and encourage their communities to shop small on Saturday.

“In 2015, elected officials in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., championed Small Business Saturday, which helped drive consumers to shop at small, independently owned businesses on the day,” WIPP Vice President Jason Lalak said. “This year, we are further expanding our outreach to mayors across the country to rally their communities and support their local small businesses throughout the holiday season.”

O’Brien set to light Christmas tree on Green Nov. 26

With the West Haven Christmas tree aglow in the background, The John C. Ireland Bandstand on the snow-covered Green is bedecked with huge electric snowflakes as Victorian-era streetlamps decorated with angels blowing on trumpets illuminate the walkways during a Yuletide celebration from yesteryear. (Contributed Photo)

O’Brien set to light Christmas tree on Green Saturday

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 23, 2016 — The annual lighting of the Christmas tree on the Green will herald an evening of merrymaking Saturday.

On a nearby stage on Main Street, the festivities will kick off at 5 p.m. with renditions of holiday classics by The Mike Martone Band, followed by singalongs of Yuletide carols.

At 6 p.m., Mayor Edward M. O’Brien will greet revelers and announce the four selected artists of his Christmas card campaign: Bailey Middle School seventh-graders Eveleen Jiang and Sofia Lora, eighth-grader Emily Console, and seventh-grader Obyda Charachfi and his sister, West Haven High School freshman Tia Charachfi.

The West Haven High cheerleading team will then escort Santa and Mrs. Claus and their elves to the stage, where they will help O’Brien and his Christmas card artists use a “special smartphone app” to set the tree aglow.

The Christmas tree is encircled by five smaller evergreen trees adorned with fluorescent-colored lights.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will meet visitors and pose for snapshots in their workshop until 9 p.m.

Just steps from the workshop, boys and girls can drop off their wish lists at Santa’s official U.S. Postal Service mailbox.

The ceremony is sponsored by the USAlliance Federal Credit Union, Marenna Amusements and the West Haven Voice.

According to organizers, the elves will give out “magic reindeer food” to help Santa and Mrs. Claus return to the North Pole.

Huge electric snowflakes will decorate The John C. Ireland Bandstand, and Victorian-era streetlamps bedecked with angels blowing on trumpets will illuminate the walkways.

Along with hayrides, children can ride on the Train Station and the Dino Bears. They can also fish in a “pond” for prizes.

For the first time, the event will feature an ice carving demonstration, organizers said.

The activities are free, but people are asked to bring nonperishable items for the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force, which provides food for residents in need.

Volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce will hand out hot chocolate, and vendors will sell food and novelties.

The vendors will include the 744 Express food truck and the Christiano’s Mini Donuts & Desserts truck.

If it rains, the lighting will take place at 5 p.m. Monday.

They do!

They do!

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 23, 2016 — From left, Mayor Edward M. O’Brien joins West Haven newlyweds Doris Sanabria Campo and Luciel Reyes and Justice of the Peace Jo Ann Callegari during a ceremony Friday morning at City Hall. (City Photo)

O’Brien dons ‘Love Your Melon’ beanie for pediatric cancer awareness

O’Brien dons ‘Love Your Melon’ beanie for pediatric cancer awareness

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 23, 2016 — Mayor Edward M. O’Brien, wearing a University of New Haven “Love Your Melon” beanie, joins Tricia LaSasso, captain of the UNH Love Your Melon Campus Crew, on Thursday at City Hall in the crew’s campaign for pediatric cancer research and education. O’Brien, a colon cancer survivor, is participating in the crew’s Election Challenge to raise awareness of the childhood disease. LaSasso, a second-year graduate student at UNH, and other crew members volunteer by dressing as Love Your Melon superheroes and visiting children with cancer in area hospitals and giving them their beanies. Love Your Melon, an apparel brand based in Minneapolis, is dedicated to putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. The company donates 50 percent of all hat sales to three nonprofit organizations — Pinky Swear, CureSearch and Be the Match — that lead the fight against pediatric cancer. The brand, whose hats are made in the U.S., was founded in 2012 by two students at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and has more than 11,000 ambassadors at over 750 schools in 50 states. To support UNH with a hat purchase, visit and select University of New Haven Campus Crew from the drop-down menu at checkout. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Shoreline Wellness Center opens Behavioral Health Clinic

Shoreline Wellness Center opens Behavioral Health Clinic

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 23, 2016 — John W. Lewis, executive assistant to Mayor Edward M. O’Brien, joins, from left, Cara Powers, founder, clinical director and CEO of Shoreline Wellness Center, and Executive Director Anais Ruiz on Nov. 16 at the grand opening of the center’s Behavioral Health Clinic & Learning Center at 415 Main St. Shoreline Wellness Center is a multispecialty group behavioral health practice that offers counseling for individuals, groups, married couples and families and medication management services for children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. The center is open weekdays and Saturdays; call 203-931-1184 for information. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

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