City Notes
Christmas tree lighting on Green heralds holiday season

From left, Mike Martone of The Mike Martone Band looks on as Mayor Edward M. O'Brien uses a "special smartphone app" with help from Bailey Middle School seventh-graders Eveleen Jiang, Sofia Lora and Obyda Charachfi and eighth-grader Emily Console to light the Christmas tree on the Green at the annual ceremony Saturday night. Before the lighting, O'Brien heralded the students as the selected artists of his Christmas card campaign. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Christmas tree lighting on Green heralds holiday season

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 29, 2016 — Bailey Middle School seventh-graders Obyda Charachfi, Eveleen Jiang and Sofia Lora and eighth-grader Emily Console helped Mayor Edward M. O’Brien use a “special smartphone app” to light the Christmas tree on the Green at the annual holiday kickoff Saturday.

Santa and Mrs. Claus, who arrived in a 1916 Ford pump firetruck, were then escorted to the Main Street stage by the West Haven High School cheerleading team to the sound of applause and shouts of glee from an estimated 400 merrymakers young and old.

Before the ceremonial lighting of the tree, which is encircled by five smaller evergreen trees adorned with fluorescent-colored lights, O’Brien heralded the students as the selected artists of his Christmas card campaign.

The evening of festivities featured renditions of holiday classics and singalongs of Yuletide carols by The Mike Martone Band with special guest Nora Mullins.

Before their long sleigh ride back to the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus posed for snapshots in their workshop.

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

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

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

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

For the first time, the free activities featured an ice carving demonstration by Matthew Terzano of Ice Matters in Cheshire, who sculpted Frosty the Snowman.

People brought nonperishable items for the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force, which provides food for residents in need.

Volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce handed out hot chocolate, and vendors sold food and novelties.

The vendors included Christiano’s Mini Donuts & Desserts truck.

To view the photo gallery, click on Scenes from the 2016 Christmas Tree Lighting

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West Haven Veterans Council plans Pearl Harbor observance

West Haven Veterans Council plans Pearl Harbor observance

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 29, 2016 — The West Haven Veterans Council will hold an observance of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 7 at the William A. Soderman Memorial Flagpole on the Veterans Walk of Honor in Bradley Point Park.

All veterans are invited to participate in the solemn ceremony, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the site of a U.S. naval base on the southern coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

The service will begin with a presentation of the colors and a flag-raising by the West Haven Fire Department Honor Guard, followed by a rendition of the national anthem by Grace Kelly Nowak and a prayer by Veterans Council chaplain Frederick Kaiser.

It will also include remarks from Mayor Edward M. O’Brien and taps played by former West Shore Fire Department Lt. Kevin McKeon.

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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)

WoodSpring Hotels announces plans for Sawmill Rd.

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 29, 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 Nov. 22, 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 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)

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