City Notes
Groundbreaking heralds new West Haven High School

City and school leaders and state officials throw shovels of dirt Tuesday afternoon to mark the symbolic groundbreaking of the city's new $129.9 million, state-of-the-art West Haven High School at 1 McDonough Plaza. From left, state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, state Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven, Mayor Edward M. O'Brien, Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro, Board of Education Chairman James W. Morrissey, West Haven High School Building Committee Chairman William Sapienza, committee Vice Chairman Richard Shea, committee Secretary and West Haven High Principal Pamela B. Gardner, Antinozzi Associates President Paul Antinozzi, and David O'Brien, Sumedha Chowdhury and Julia Walker, student representatives to the Board of Education. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Groundbreaking heralds new West Haven High School

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 23, 2017 — City and school leaders and state officials threw shovels of dirt Tuesday afternoon to mark the symbolic groundbreaking of the city’s new state-of-the-art West Haven High School at 1 McDonough Plaza.

To the sound of applause from an enthusiastic gathering of residents, students and teachers at the main entrance loop, Mayor Edward M. O’Brien and Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro officially — and finally — broke ground on the $129.9 million high school construction project, which has been nine years in the making.

As work continued on parts of the school getting the sidewalks and parking areas ready for the start of classes, the 15-minute ceremony featured remarks from O’Brien and Cavallaro and included dozens of city and school officials, such as members of the City Council, Board of Education and West Haven High School Building Committee, as well as state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, state Reps. Dorinda Borer and Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, and members of the project team.

“As the father of a current West Haven High School student and a West Haven High School graduate, I understand that our students deserve the best possible education, and that starts with having the best facilities,” O’Brien said after the groundbreaking.

“Our teachers should not have to worry about building maintenance issues getting in the way of teaching their students,” O’Brien said. “A new and improved high school ensures they can focus all of their attention on educating our children.”

He added, “The new high school preserves the entire shops program, allowing our students to gain hands-on experience and have more choices for their future.”

Cavallaro said: “This state-of-the-art facility is going to be good not only for our students and staff but for the entire community of West Haven. We will do everything we can to make sure students will not be disturbed during the construction.”

Slossberg added: “Thank you to the building committee and everyone who worked on this project, particularly the mayor. We look forward to the ribbon-cutting when the project is completed on time and underbudget.”

Borer said, “We know when a lot families are looking to move into a community, the first thing they look at is the education, and West Haven will have a competitive, state-of-the-art facility.”

Designed by Antinozzi Associates of Bridgeport to accommodate 1,450 students, plans for the future high school include renovating about 98,000 square feet of the existing building, demolishing the remainder, and adding just over 168,000 square feet of new construction. The total finished project has an area of 265,959 square feet, officials said.

The completed school will offer a cutting-edge media center, advanced STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — classrooms and laboratories, and upgraded public areas for the school and community. It will also offer enhanced access and security and lower maintenance and operating costs.

The existing building, built in 1960, encompasses 298,000 square feet and serves 1,500 students. The brick structure received limited system updates and accessibility upgrades in 1968, 1985, 1991, 1995, 2000 and 2005, officials said.

The 22-acre campus is divided by Educational Way and bounded on the north by Edward L. Bennett Rink, to the east by Painter Avenue, and to the west by the Cove River.

While the high school pool is excluded from the project, plans call for removing an existing covered walkway and adding perimeter sidewalks, parking and site grading.

O’Brien and Cavallaro said the project’s construction phase, also known as Phase III, will consist of three major “subphases” to allow the school to offer a full academic curriculum throughout the project.

Gilbane Building Co. of Glastonbury is the project’s construction manager, with Amar Shamas serving as the project executive. The Capitol Region Education Council of Hartford, or CREC, is overseeing the construction financing, with Elizabeth Craun serving as the construction program manager.

The state’s reimbursement rate is 75.36 percent, and state officials have been working closely with the team to make the project a success, Craun said.

The City Council recently adopted a bonding ordinance worth $133.25 million to finance West Haven’s portion of the project cost.

Craun said the construction phase is expected to begin in April 2018 and take about three years to complete, with a projected occupancy of new spaces in fall 2019 through 2021. Site restoration work is expected to continue until spring 2022, she said.

The project’s first subphase includes constructing the food services, building services, tech-ed shops, media center, auditorium, music and arts classrooms, and administrative offices to permit the transferal of building uses, thereby opening other parts of the existing building for renovation or demolition.

During the fall, crews are expected to complete a temporary space for tech-ed shops in the existing auxiliary gym to clear the way for the environmental abatement and demolition of the existing G wing in early 2018.

The second subphase calls for renovating the existing eastern three-story building after demolishing the existing cafeteria and media center.

The third subphase includes demolishing the existing auditorium and music spaces, renovating the northern wing of academic spaces, and demolishing the existing gym and southern academic building.

When complete, the new high school will incorporate two buildings, divided into north and south commons.

The north commons, composed of about 154,000 square feet, will contain primarily assembly spaces, while the south commons, consisting of about 112,000 square feet, will include mainly classroom and faculty office spaces.

The West Haven High School Building Committee comprises Chairman William Sapienza, Vice Chairman Richard Shea, Secretary and West Haven High Principal Pamela B. Gardner, Finance Subcommittee Chairman Steven R. Mullins, Michael Betz, Assistant Building Official Richard Boyne, Peter Cordone, Fire Marshal Keith T. Flood of the West Haven Fire Department, Anthony Giordano, James Greenberg, Board of Education member Mark P. Palmieri, Emergency Management Director Robert S. Schwartz, Daria Weible, Steven Wydra and Ian Ackbarali.

Home makeover

Home makeover

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 23, 2017 — From left, Mayor Edward M. O’Brien, contractor Anthony Cordone and Planning and Development Commissioner Joseph A. Riccio Jr. on Monday stand in front of a Cape Cod-style house at 43 Linden St. that Cordone recently refurbished, an example of the unique partnership between the city and local contractors to improve West Haven’s aging housing stock.

Four years ago, the city foreclosed on the single-family home as well as a single-family home at 41 Harold St. that contractor Brian Banning has since remodeled.

After assuming ownership of the severely blighted homes, the city put the properties out to bid, with Cordone obtaining the Linden Street bid for $52,000 and Banning securing the Harold Street bid for $55,000.

Cordone and Banning, known for building single-family homes in West Haven, then gutted the houses, giving them an extensive interior and exterior makeover — complete with such modern amenities as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood flooring, and vinyl siding and windows.

O’Brien said the upgrades have significantly increased the value of the properties, which are listed for sale, while growing the city’s grand list of taxable property.

(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

The Atwood opens, aims to make Allingtown a destination

Mayor Edward M. O'Brien, holding a pair of oversize scissors, cuts the ceremonial ribbon Thursday afternoon with, from left, Acorn Group founder David A. Beckerman, Svigals + Partners managing partner Jay Brotman, Acorn Vice President Gary S. Letendre, state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, and city Planning and Development Commissioner Joseph A. Riccio Jr. to mark the grand opening of Acorn's The Atwood, an $18 million apartment and commercial development at 222 Boston Post Road. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

The Atwood opens, aims to make Allingtown a destination

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 18, 2017 — Clasping a pair of oversize scissors, Mayor Edward M. O’Brien cut the ceremonial ribbon Thursday with Acorn Group founder David A. Beckerman and Vice President Gary S. Letendre to mark the grand opening of Acorn’s The Atwood, an $18 million apartment and commercial development at 222 Boston Post Road aimed at making the neighborhood around the Allingtown Green a destination.

As many of the new building’s residents, all students of the nearby University of New Haven, moved into their new digs, O’Brien touted The Atwood’s highly anticipated opening as “one example of how we are transforming West Haven through economic development.”

“This area is transforming before our eyes,” O’Brien told a group of more than a dozen city officials and project executives moments before the afternoon ribbon-cutting, which also included Jay Brotman, managing partner of the New Haven architectural firm Svigals + Partners, state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, and city Planning and Development Commissioner Joseph A. Riccio Jr.

“This innovative development initiative, envisioned by David Beckerman, is revitalizing our Allingtown neighborhood and the Allingtown Green area, including our bustling and vibrant Route 1 gateway,” O’Brien said later.

“Acorn Group’s goal is to design new buildings and public amenities that make the Allingtown Green more of a destination,” Beckerman said in a news release from Acorn’s public relations firm, C.C. Sullivan of Montclair, New Jersey.

The four-story, 90,150-square-foot building, built by the Acorn development company Forest Road Manor LLC on the former 89-year-old site of Carroll Cut-Rate Furniture, houses 67 market-rate apartments, composed of one- and two-bedroom studios, and 15,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

During the brief ceremony, Letendre confirmed that the apartments are 100 percent leased by UNH students and the commercial space is 50 percent leased.

He also confirmed that the national retail tenants occupying the ground floor of the brick and fiber cement-sided building include Torrington-based EbLens Clothing & Footwear and Dallas-based Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes.

According to the release, the building’s multihued facade “imbues (the) Allingtown Green with the feel of a traditional American village center, … with (new) retail storefronts … and restaurants … planned around the newly landscaped green to enhance the village feel.”

The Atwood, standing between Atwood Place and Taft Avenue, is 400 feet from UNH’s Route 1 campus, which is home to 6,000 students.

The handicapped-accessible, natural gas-fueled apartments are equipped with kitchens with ambient lighting, stainless steel appliances, wood-laminated flooring, and granite countertops with decorative stone backsplashes. They are also outfitted with energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, a sprinkler system, and tiled bathrooms and shower stalls.

The building was constructed by A.P. Construction Co. of Stamford, creating scores of construction jobs and using as many local contractors as possible, Letendre said. It was designed by Svigals + Partners.

“Outside The Atwood,” the release said, “generous sidewalks create opportunities for outdoor seating and room for people to congregate and be visible.”

Officials said the project, which includes two rear parking lots totaling 181 spaces, will generate $101,776 in property tax revenue for the city in its first year and $370,279 by year eight.

Acorn, based in New Haven, has also announced plans to complement The Atwood with two similar mixed-use developments that would flank opposite sides of the Allingtown Green, which is across the street from the new building.

The 85,000-square-foot Park View, scheduled for construction on Cellini Place on the site of what years ago was the Park Theatre, would include 50 market-rate apartments with covered parking and 20,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

Estimated at 90,000 square feet, The Forest, slated for construction on the former site of the demolished Forest Theatre at the intersection of Boston Post Road, Campbell Avenue and Forest Road, would include 62 market-rate apartments with covered parking and 15,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

Like The Atwood, the apartments would consist of one- and two-bedroom studios, according to preliminary plans.

On July 24, the City Council approved the sale of 9,024 square feet of the Louis Piantino Branch Library’s parking lot at 1 Forest Road to Acorn for the Park View project. The property was sold for $106,000.

In all, the three developments, collectively known as University Commons, are projected to produce more than $1 million in annual property tax revenue for the city’s coffers, officials said.

“University Commons creates a walkable village with expanded public space — a new and magnetic center that will serve as a foundation for business prosperity and a resource for local needs,” the release said.


O’Brien hosting panel discussion on old Savin Rock

Artwork/Tony Ruggiero

O’Brien hosting panel discussion on old Savin Rock amusement park

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 18, 2017 — A three-person panel hosted by Mayor Edward M. O’Brien will discuss “Memories of Savin Rock Amusement Park” from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Main Library, 300 Elm St.

The free event, presented by the Columbus Day Committee of Greater New Haven and Sons and Daughters of Italy Lodge 37, will include a presentation and a reception with refreshments.

The panel is composed of Natalie Guiliano DeRosa, William S. “Wiggy” Johnson Jr., former chief of the West Haven Fire Department, and Harold M. Peschell, former owner of Peschell’s Pastry Shop.

Details at Savin Rock.

Duckpin bowl-a-thon strikes money for scholarship funds

Duckpin bowl-athon strikes money for scholarship funds

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 18, 2017 — Connie Cappiello, back center, joins participants of the city’s playground camp July 27 at the Woodlawn Duckpin Bowling Alley, 240 Platt Ave. The sixth annual duckpin bowl-athon, held July 26-27, was sponsored by the Department of Parks and Recreation’s playground camp program in memory of Cappiello’s son, former employee Ed Cappiello Jr., and former employee Valerie DeFonzo-Withington, who died of long-term illnesses. West Haven’s six playground sites participated in the benefit and raised $1,200 for scholarship funds in Cappiello’s and Withington’s names. (City Photo/Diane Dietman)

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