City Notes
Rain garden

City’s first rain garden installed at Pagels School

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 21, 2019 — The city’s first rain garden has been installed at Pagels Elementary School.

The 270-square-foot garden, constructed just off the school bus drop-off and pickup lane by Benham Hill Road, can treat more than 40,000 gallons of stormwater per year.

The project is the result of a collaboration with the UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research, which analyzed and reported on several potential sites in West Haven for tackling stormwater runoff reduction last year.

CLEAR, based in Haddam, provides information, education and assistance to land use decision-makers in support of balancing growth and natural resource protection.

Stormwater management is necessary to reduce flooding and protect bodies of water from pollutants that collect on roads, parking lots and driveways and flow into storm sewers.

Rain gardens are designed to collect runoff and allow the water to percolate through soil before finding its way to rivers and Long Island Sound. Typically, they are planted with native perennials that also function as carbon sinks — natural reservoirs that store carbon-containing chemical compounds accumulated over time — and provide habitat for wildlife, including birds and butterflies.

Rain gardens also require less maintenance and virtually no inputs, such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides — all of which contaminate the runoff instead of purifying it.

(City Photo/Robin D. Parsons)

P&Z adopts regulations for short-term rentals, outdoor dining

P&Z adopts regulations for short-term rentals, outdoor dining

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 21, 2019 — The Planning and Zoning Commission has adopted regulations to guide “Short Term Rentals” in the city and “Outdoor Dining” at restaurants, P&Z Chairwoman Kathleen Hendricks announced.

“Both of these issues had come to the attention of the Planning and Zoning Commission in recent months, and the commission wanted to do something about them,” Hendricks said.

Recognizing that West Haven is a shorefront community, the commission is aware of the ongoing concern that city homeowners may seek to rent their property as a short-term rental, Hendricks said.

Short-term rentals include dwellings rented through such vacation rental websites as Airbnb and VRBO. The sites connect people offering residences or rooms with others who want to rent them for short-term stays.

“The commission recognizes individuals have a need to be flexible in meeting monthly housing expenses, but the commission is also committed to protecting residents of the neighborhoods in which such uses might occur,” Hendricks said. “The commission does not want to see overcrowding of residential streets and wants to protect residential character from being impacted by excessive turnover on local streets.”

Assistant City Planner David W. Killeen said the new regulation establishes an approval process for such uses and allows the usage in two residential districts and two commercial districts by “special use exception” approval through the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The regulation requires a seven-day minimum stay for rentals, limits occupancy, and defines space requirements for the short-term use.

“Owners must demonstrate they have sufficient parking to support these rentals as well,” Killeen said.

With regard to outdoor dining, many restaurants want to have a few tables in front of their businesses to help attract customers, which Hendricks said “the commission feels is good business, not only for the restaurant owner but the city as a whole.”

“Thriving communities often promote outdoor dining,” she said. “It improves the appearance of the community and encourages a relaxing setting to enjoy a good meal.”

The commission has had an existing regulation for outdoor dining but felt it was too restrictive and did not encourage outdoor dining opportunities, Killeen said.

The new regulation allows most restaurants to have two to four outdoor tables, provided owners can demonstrate to planning and zoning officials that they will retain sufficient areas for pedestrian circulation and that the outdoor dining will meet city codes. An annual registration is planned for that type of use, Killeen said.

For this year, however, restaurants may use the regulation informally without approval, he said.

The Department of Planning and Development will seek the approval of a registration process and set fees through the City Council in preparation for the regulation’s formal implementation in 2020.

For larger outdoor dining settings, restaurant owners must file a special permit application with the commission for approval. The special permit does not require an annual registration.

The regulations for short-term rentals and outdoor dining took effect Aug. 12. Copies are available for review in the planning and development office on the first floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.

Storm drain stenciling effort underway

Storm drain stenciling effort underway

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 21, 2019 — Resident Stacey Giaquinto participates in the city’s new Storm Drain Marking Project on Sunday at Campbell Avenue and Leete Street.

The project, which began a day earlier with a workshop offered by the Sustainable West Haven team, aims to build awareness of the connection between what we put onto our yards, driveways and streets and what ends up in the water we use for recreation and as an environmental asset.

Everything that goes into a city storm drain empties into a stream, river or Long Island Sound. Project organizers hope that stenciling the drains in high-traffic areas will help educate people.

Individuals, families, clubs and neighborhood groups are asked to consider participating in the project. With 5,000 storm drains, West Haven has many opportunities to take part in the effort.

Contact organizers for details about the project via the sign-up sheet at

(Contributed Photo)

Town Hall Meeting Poster
Rossi sets town hall meeting for Thursday

Rossi town hall meeting on Thursday

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 19, 2019 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi and her staff are inviting residents to participate in a town hall meeting from 7-9 p.m. Thursday in the Harriet C. North Community Room on the second floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.

Organizers said residents are encouraged to bring prepared questions about issues affecting them or the city.

Questions are limited to two, and attendees are asked to keep each one under two minutes so all voices can be heard. In addition, one follow-up question is allowed after each initial question. Those rules may be altered by the moderator at the meeting, organizers said.

Opportunities for participants to submit questions or comments in writing as an alternative to speaking will also be available, organizers said.

The town hall moderator is Christopher Suggs, a resident of Allingtown and member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The meeting will be livestreamed on the mayor’s Facebook page. Questions will be taken from Facebook live between breaks or at the moderator’s discretion.

For more information, call the mayor’s office at 203-937-3510.

West Haven United
Bill Barr

Barr named West Haven’s first troubadour

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 19, 2019 — William “Railroad Bill” Barr, with his wife, Nancy, left, receives a citation from Mayor Nancy R. Rossi for being appointed the honorary position of troubadour of West Haven during a ceremony Monday at City Hall.

Reading the citation, Rossi said, “I join the great people of our city in admiring your passion for music, the arts and literacy … and congratulate you on your appointment as the official city troubadour.”

As West Haven’s first troubadour, Barr, a lifelong resident who lives on Court Street with his wife of 46 years, aims to foster cultural literacy through music. A prolific guitarist and singer, he has entertained audiences for decades across Connecticut and New England, including once serenading the Kennedy family at a reunion on Cape Cod.

Barr is also renowned in the world of square dancing, having called about 9,000 events since the 1980s.

(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Trash can poster
Local health organization makes a difference in West Haven

Before and after photos of the new planters on Main Street done by the Bridges Healthcare “Garden Together” team. (Bridges Photo/John Ciambriello)

Health organization makes a difference in West Haven

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 7, 2019 — Bridges Healthcare includes as part of its mission the goal of improving the lives of children, families and adults with mental health disorders and substance abuse challenges.

As if that weren’t a lofty enough goal, the organization, which provides services for thousands of Milford, Orange and West Haven residents, has recently worked hard to also make a difference in the center of West Haven, where it operates a small business, Coffee Haven West.

The unique shop at 535 Campbell Ave. offers a selection of tasty coffees and refreshments for downtown workers and residents. As a Center business, the organization wanted to go a step further in becoming a good “corporate citizen” to the community as well.

In the last couple of months, the organization began an effort to beautify the downtown area, help inspire other businesses to do the same, and help build character for its clients.

John Ciambriello, a social rehabilitation case manager at Bridges, had an idea to share his love of gardening with other staff and clients by organizing a group called “Garden Together.”

The group started with six pottery planters at the entrances to the municipal parking lot serving the row of stores in which the coffee shop operates. Previously, the large planters had become receptacles for unsightly trash and weeds.

In early June, Garden Together planted a mix of colorful begonias, petunias and marigolds in the planters to visually change and improve the area. The group included clients Alex Flynn, Rebecca Pinkleton and Kurt Zehnder.

Learning from online videos and the experiences of its members, the group has also planted a garden of vegetables and flowers behind Coffee Haven West and has involved staff and clients in tending to the planters to keep them watered to ensure they thrive in the warmer months.

To build on those efforts, the organization then reached out to members of the West Haven Beautification Committee and asked if they could help with new plantings around City Hall.

In late June, Bridges organized a team of seven staff members and clients of Young Adult Services to meet with a representative of the Beautification Committee to plant two large planters in front of City Hall — one on Campbell Avenue, one on Main Street — and a planting area opposite City Hall on the northeast corner of the Green.

The Bridges team, in addition to Ciambriello, included Jason Crockett, director of operations for Young Adult Services; Shirley Leto, recovery coordinator for YAS; and clients Andrea Zello, Shania Ploughman, Salena Gural and Raidah Arshad.

The group joined forces with committee co-Chair David Killeen and toiled late that day to complete the work — with impressive results.

“Keeping an attractive appearance around City Hall is a major concern of my administration,” Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said. “The efforts of groups like Bridges and the Beautification Committee help us make the area attractive at a considerable savings for the city. I am thankful for their contribution to this effort.”

“Bridges Healthcare is committed to being a part of the community and is always looking for opportunities to involve our staff and clients in projects that really make a difference around us,” Crockett said. “These efforts in West Haven are a perfect example.”

The coffee shop serves to provide vocational training and opportunities for clients engaged with Bridges’ Young Adult Services program. YAS takes a multidimensional approach to assist young adults with a history of trauma, abuse or other mental health issues to develop independent living skills and self-sufficiency and reach their fullest potential, Crockett said.

YAS is funded by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Killeen, who is also the assistant city planner, added: “We were pleased to partner with Bridges to make this kind of improvement in the West Haven Center. We assist with similar efforts throughout the city, and our goal is to help build pride in the community.”

Killeen said the committee provided a mix of perennial and annual flowers to fill the planting areas.

West Haven’s Beautification Program is being financed by the city Department of Human Resources under the leadership of Commissioner Beth A. Sabo.


From left, Bridges clients Alex Flynn, Rebecca Pinkleton and Kurt Zehnder strike a pose next to one of their new planters on Main Street. (Bridges Photo/John Ciambriello)

City Hall

From left, Shirley Leto, recovery coordinator for Bridges’ Young Adult Services program; Bridges client Selena Gural; West Haven Beautification Committee co-Chair David Killeen; and Bridges clients Andrea Zello and Shania Ploughman add flowers to a City Hall planting area near Campbell Avenue. (Bridges Photo/John Ciambriello)


Bridges clients Shania Ploughman, left, and Raidah Arshad plant a section on the Green. (City Photo/David Killeen)

Artists, volunteers, sponsors sought for visual arts festival

Artists, volunteers, sponsors sought for visual arts fest

WEST HAVEN, Aug. 2, 2019 — Interested in connecting with the arts?

City-Wide Open Studios, a monthlong festival of visual arts, is returning to Greater New Haven, including a weekend event in West Haven.

Organizers are seeking artists, volunteers and sponsors to participate in the festival, in its 22nd year, from Oct. 4-Nov. 3.

Artists have until Sept. 1 to register for the festival, which is open to all state residents and presented by Artspace, the nerve center of New Haven’s contemporary arts scene.

Artists across all media can choose from three weekends in October and November to share their work and creative process with an arts-friendly community. Organizers will consider all artists for curator visits. For information, go to

Those looking to volunteer, including high school students needing community service hours, can sign up at

Area businesses are invited to celebrate the creative talent that helps the business community thrive by supporting City-Wide Open Studios. This year’s festival theme, “Older but Younger,” explores society’s changing attitudes about aging and longevity.

Program ads are accepted until mid-September at Business card sizes are available by contacting Elinor Slomba, executive producer of CWOS, at

For the second year, CWOS will hold its Alternative Space Weekend from noon-6 p.m. Nov. 2-3 at Yale University’s West Campus in West Haven.

The special weekend event sets CWOS apart from other open studio weekends by offering artists from across Connecticut — and those interested in creating site-specific works — a unique backdrop to showcase their talents.

Learn more about Alternative Space Weekend at

Farmers market

Farmers market open Thursdays, Saturdays on West Haven Green

WEST HAVEN, July 11, 2019 — The Tony Inzero Farmers Market is open for its 20th season on the Green.

Through Oct. 26, the market at Main Street and Campbell Avenue features state farmers selling homegrown fruits and vegetables from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.

It also includes crafters selling their wares.

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