City Notes
Lowe’s receiving award for renovating West Haven playground

Lowe’s receiving award for renovating city playground

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 2, 2017 — The Connecticut Recreation & Parks Association will recognize Lowe’s of Derby for the home improvement store’s philanthropic work in renovating the “Maureen’s Dream” wooden playground in Painter Park.

Store manager Peter Ouellette will receive the association’s Selected Organization Award during its 57th annual Conference & Tradeshow Nov. 21 at the Mohegan Sun Hotel & Convention Center in Uncasville.

“Lowe’s contribution to our city was extremely generous, and this award from the Connecticut Recreation & Parks Association is well-deserved,” Mayor Edward M. O’Brien said. “Without the donation from Lowe’s and the hard work of the volunteers, an iconic park in our community may not have been able to stay open.”

“This park provides the children of West Haven with a fun, safe place to play with their friends, and thanks to Lowe’s donation, this will continue for years to come,” O’Brien said. “I would like to congratulate Lowe’s on receiving this award and thank them once again for their wonderful contribution to West Haven.”

Ouellette will represent the employee volunteers of his Derby store, known corporately as Lowe’s Market 1251, when he accepts the award on their behalf at the two-day conference, which begins Nov. 20.

“With over 300 parks and recreation professionals and over 95 exhibits, CRPA’s annual conference is a great place for networking, sharing ideas, learning about current trends, and getting a pulse on what is happening in the parks and recreation industry,” said Amy Wilcox of the Newington-based nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to the promotion, development and improvement of all recreation and parks services in Connecticut.

“This two-day conference and tradeshow boasts over 25 educational sessions, five networking events, an awards show and an exhibit hall,” Wilcox said.

According to CRPA’s website, the criterion for the Selected Organization Award comprises the following: “The organization should have made an outstanding voluntary contribution to the field of public recreation and parks, significant enough to have had a stimulating effect on recreation at a town, city, state or national level.”

For five weeks, starting Aug. 26, 2016, dozens of Lowe’s employees painstakingly restored the Painter Park playground on Kelsey Avenue for their annual “Lowe’s Heroes” community service project.

Then, on Oct. 15, 2016, O’Brien and other West Haven officials dedicated the refurbished wooden playground in honor of park neighbor and former city schoolteacher Maureen Blake as more than 100 happy children, parents and volunteers looked on.

Moments later, O’Brien signaled the reopening of the newly named Maureen’s Dream playground to the throng of anxious children, who immediately scampered into the fenced-in area to play on the castle-themed structure’s arsenal of swings and slides for the first time in six months.

O’Brien lauded Blake for leading a grass-roots movement to bring a playground to the neighborhood more than two decades ago. He also praised the volunteers from four area Lowe’s stores for “your extraordinary dedication and selfless contributions” to the structure’s extensive rehabilitation.

As part of their labor of love, the stores donated about $10,000 worth of materials.

O’Brien, who was surrounded by many of the Westies who constructed the original playground and many of the Lowe’s employees who restored the aging structure, also thanked the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Parks and Recreation Commission and the West Haven Fire Department for working together “to help the children of West Haven and this beloved playground.”

Blake said the playground was a community and team effort that included the aid of numerous residents.

The dedication also included remarks from city recreation program coordinator Tom Conroy, who organized the renovation project and helped O’Brien reveal the playground’s new Maureen’s Dream sign.

Conroy said the playground was erected over five days in May 1994 by a group of about 100 volunteers with a shared vision for building for West Haven’s future.

During the late morning dedication, O’Brien presented plaques enshrined in appreciation to Blake and Lowe’s, which was represented by Ouellette and Milford store manager John Cipriano.

“A special thanks to Lowe’s of Derby, Milford, New Haven and Orange for their extraordinary volunteerism and invaluable donations to the renovation and restoration of this playground 22 years later,” the plaque reads.

According to city officials, the playground had fallen into disrepair and was ordered closed in April 2016 by West Haven’s insurance carrier because of safety concerns.

Two months later, Park-Rec received an estimate of $150,000 to $180,000 to rehabilitate the popular playground.

Thankfully, over the summer of 2016, Cipriano answered the call for help and contacted O’Brien through Marilyn Wilkes, chairwoman of the city’s Beautification Committee, about taking on the playground restoration for Lowe’s community outreach project. The company previously helped Wilkes with her Community Garden project behind the former Molloy Elementary School.

Cipriano then mobilized a four-store team for the ambitious undertaking, which was supervised by Ouellette.

The work, done at no cost to city taxpayers, included replacing all swing set equipment and hardware, beams and boards, and benches. It also included restabilizing the wooden retaining wall, adding picnic tables and fresh mulch, and re-staining the playground.

West Haven firefighters pitched in by power-washing the playground before it was stained by Lowe’s.

Lowe’s, headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina, has been “improving home improvement” for more than 60 years.

The Connecticut Recreation & Parks Association, created in 1949, provides a support network for its members through professional development and resources to enhance the quality of recreation and parks services statewide.

The association’s membership is composed of more than 650 individuals from municipal and private nonprofit, parks, recreation and camp organizations. It is represented by 130 of the 169 municipal parks and recreation departments in Connecticut.

CRPA’s members consist of municipal department professionals, volunteer commission members, students, professors and business representatives, as well as interested individuals in all levels of service in the parks and recreation field.

Members are offered education, advocacy and cost-savings programs to better serve their communities, according to the association’s website.

Vietnam vets holding toy drive Saturday, Nov. 18, on Green

Vietnam veterans holding toy drive Nov. 18 on West Haven Green

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 2, 2017 — West Haven Vietnam Veterans Inc. will hold a toy drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 18 on the Green.

People are asked to bring an unwrapped toy or game for children ages 4-11.

The drive will benefit the West Haven Community House, 227 Elm St., which will distribute the toys to residents in need.

O’Brien declares Nov. 25 Small Business Saturday in West Haven

O’Brien declares Nov. 25 Small Business Saturday in city

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 30, 2017 — Mayor Edward M. O’Brien has announced the city’s participation in the eighth annual Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25.

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

“I am once again proud to acknowledge the many quality and vital small businesses in every corner of our city and the invaluable contributions they make to our economy and the life of our community,” said O’Brien, a former downtown merchant. “I urge both residents and visitors to make every attempt to support West Haven’s small businesses on Nov. 25.”

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 since 1988.

Small Business Saturday was established by American Express 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 AmEx, an estimated 112 million consumers shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday last year.

Similar to last year, the Small Business Saturday Coalition, led by Women Impacting Public Policy, a nonpartisan small-business advocate known as WIPP, is rallying mayors nationwide to show their support and encourage their communities to shop small on Nov. 25.

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

Read the Proclamation.

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

Nov. 25 also marks the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree on the Green. The Yuletide event attracts hundreds of people each year, many of whom O’Brien hopes take advantage of sales at downtown specialty shops.

Merchants and consumers can learn more about Small Business Saturday, including how to participate, at

Committee gives $29K to YNHH for breast cancer programs

City Breast Cancer Awareness Committee gives $29K to Yale New Haven Hospital for breast cancer programs

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 30, 2017 — From front left, Eileen Hansen, administrative manager of women’s oncology services at the Smilow Breast Center at Yale New Haven Hospital, Linda Penn, manager of integrative medicine and the Cingari Family Boutique at the Smilow Cancer Hospital, and Camille Servodidio, program manager of women’s oncology services at the Smilow Cancer Hospital, receive a $29,500 check from, from left, West Haven Breast Cancer Awareness Committee members Jennifer Cavallaro and Beth A. Sabo and Mayor Edward M. O’Brien on Friday at City Hall.

The money, raised at the committee’s 17th annual Icy Plunge for the Cure in January, will maintain funding for patient information binders, which are given to each person diagnosed with breast cancer at Smilow, and for a hospitality cart, which provides snacks and other amenities for patients at the Smilow Breast Center.

The donation will also support funding for mastectomy specialty bras for uninsured patients through Looking Forward, an education and wellness program for cancer patients at Smilow.

Since its inception in 2001, the committee has collected more than $780,000 for breast cancer research and education.

The 2018 plunge is tapped for 9 a.m. Jan. 13 at Savin Rock Beach.

(City Photo/Rob Granoth)

Driver safety course offered in West Haven

Driver safety course offered Nov. 29

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 30, 2017 — The West Haven Senior Center will offer an AARP Driver Safety Program from 2-6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Johnson Community Center, 201 Noble St.

The program is designed to help sharpen driving skills, develop strategies to adjust to age-related vision changes, develop hearing and reaction times, and learn about the effects of medication on driving performance.

Participants must complete the class to receive a certification for insurance purposes.

The fee is $15 for AARP members and $20 for nonmembers, payable to AARP.

To register, call the senior center at 203-937-3507.

Public meeting slated Nov. 14 for regional disaster planning

Public meeting slated Nov. 14 for regional disaster planning

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 26, 2017 — The public is invited to participate in a meeting for the development of the South Central Region Multi-Jurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan.

West Haven, together with the South Central Regional Council of Governments and its municipalities, is helping to prepare an update to the plan, which aims to identify and assess natural hazard risks, such as flooding, hurricanes and winter storms, and to determine how to best minimize or manage those risks.

The public meeting is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Harriet C. North Community Room on the second floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.

Mayor Edward M. O’Brien, who serves as treasurer of SCRCOG’s Executive Committee and sits on its Transportation and Emergency Management and Hazard Mitigation committees, said the plan is essential to the city’s efforts in identifying ways to lessen the impacts of natural hazards.

As an officer and Executive Committee member, O’Brien helps steer planning initiatives for the region’s 15 municipalities: Bethany, Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Wallingford, West Haven and Woodbridge.

During the public meeting, City Engineer Abdul Quadir will introduce the plan’s contents through a PowerPoint presentation. Residents will then have the opportunity to discuss ideas regarding risk reduction.

To help increase public participation, SCRCOG has launched the South Central Connecticut Hazard Mitigation Plan Survey, which gives everyone in the planning area a chance to share their opinions and participate in the mitigation planning process, said its executive director, Carl J. Amento.

Amento said the information gathered from the survey will help the planning team to better understand local concerns and issues as expressed by the region’s residents. The information can also lead to mitigation activities that should help lessen the impacts of future disasters, he said.

The online survey, which takes about five minutes to complete, is available in English and Spanish at

To learn more about the regional disaster planning project, visit

SCRCOG, based at 127 Washington Ave. in North Haven, provides a platform for intermunicipal coordination, cooperation and decision-making. Since its inception in 1985, the planning organization, whose region covers about 570,000 people, has addressed numerous issues, including those related to housing, transportation, land use planning and economic development.

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