City Notes
Tree lighting

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 streetlamps decorated with angels blowing on trumpets illuminate the walkways during a Yuletide celebration from yesteryear. (Contributed Photo)

Christmas tree lighting on Green includes holiday festival

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 26, 2019 — The annual lighting of the Christmas tree on the Green will herald an evening of merriment Saturday.

The six-hour holiday festival will begin at 2 p.m. with Christmas music, food trucks, face painting, train rides and wreath decorating, as well as craft and artisan vendors.

The event is presented by the city, the First Congregational Church of West Haven and West Haven United, an organization aimed at bringing the city’s volunteer groups together.

Lou Esposito, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi’s executive assistant, will serve as the master of ceremonies.

The festivities, featuring a cast of costumed Christmas characters, will continue at 3 p.m. with the opening of Santa’s village and eight craft stations on the Green, where children can decorate wooden ornaments, write letters to Santa, and make cards for U.S. troops overseas and those at the Veterans Affairs Hospital on Campbell Avenue.

At 3:15 p.m., West Haven High School junior Nora E. Mullins will sing the national anthem, followed by a half-hour play by the West Haven High Drama Club at 3:30 p.m.

The ceremony will continue at 4 p.m. with performances by the West Haven High dance team, holiday carols sung by the St. Lawrence School chorus and performances by the Top Hat Dance Academy.

Along with hayrides, kids can ride on a vintage firetruck from the West Shore Fire Department.

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.

For a $5 fee, youngsters can also take a ride on the Roaming Railroad, a trackless train sponsored by the West Haven PTA Council.

Shortly after 5 p.m., the West Haven High and Seahawks cheerleading teams will perform, followed by Yuletide classics sung by the Bailey Middle School chorus and a singalong led by Victorian carolers from a portable stage on the Main Street side of the Green.

At 6 p.m., Rossi will greet revelers and announce the designers of her Christmas cards and the winners of West Haven United’s ornament-making and merchant window-decorating contests.

The cheerleading teams will then escort Santa and Mrs. Claus to the stage, where they will join Rossi and her special guests to set the tree aglow.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive in a 1935 Mack pump firetruck from the West Haven Fire Department.

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

Before returning to the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus will meet visitors and pose for snapshots in their workshop until 8 p.m. Organizers will offer the photos with Santa as a free digital download online.

Starting Dec. 4, people can view and download their photos on the city’s Flickr page at The internet address is case sensitive.

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

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

The decorated Green will also include an inflatable snow globe that children can go in and have their pictures taken.

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

The vendors will include the First Congregational Church and the food trucks of Franco’s Fried Dough-Licious, Hungry Bear, Ruethai’s Kitchen and Ted’s Steam Machine.

Also, volunteers from West Haven United will sell hot apple cider, coffee and hot chocolate.

After the lighting, live seasonal music from The Rock House School of Music and Off the Hook, “Connecticut’s premier party band,” will fill the air.

If it rains, the lighting will go on at 5 p.m. Monday.

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West Haven inaugural set for noon Dec. 1 at WHHS

West Haven inaugural set for noon Sunday at West Haven High School

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 26, 2019 — Democratic Mayor Nancy R. Rossi will serve as West Haven’s chief elected official for another two years when she and the rest of the city’s elected officials are administered the oath of office at noon Sunday.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz will swear in Rossi for a second term during a ceremony at West Haven High School, 1 McDonough Plaza.

The public is invited to the inauguration, which is being held in the school auditorium.

City Planning and Zoning Commissioner Christopher M. Suggs will serve as the master of ceremonies, and Bysiewicz will serve as the keynote speaker.

Rossi defeated City Clerk Deborah Collins and former Mayor Edward M. O’Brien in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary and Republican challenger Michele P. Gregorio in the Nov. 5 general election.

Rossi, 61, is the 12th and first female mayor of West Haven since it was incorporated as a city by the General Assembly in 1961.

Retired Probate Judge E. Michael Heffernan will swear in incumbent Democratic Treasurer Michael P. Last, and Superior Court Judge Trial Referee Edward J. Dolan will administer the oath of office to incumbent Democratic Tax Collector Dorothy Chambrelli. Bysiewicz will swear in elected Democratic City Clerk Patricia C. Horvath.

Heffernan will also swear in the five incumbents and eight newcomers on the City Council.

Returning council members are Bridgette J. Hoskie, D-1; Mitchell L. Gallignano, D-4; Robbin Watt Hamilton, D-5; Peter V. Massaro, D-6; and Ronald M. Quagliani, D-at large.

New to the council are William X. Conlon, D-2; Elizabeth Johnston, D-3; Treneé McGee, D-7; Chrystal Fanelli, D-8; Robert Bruneau, D-9; Barry Lee Cohen, R-10; Gary Donovan, D-at large; and Colleen O’Connor, R-at large.

Probate Judge Mark J. DeGennaro will swear in members of the Board of Education, including incumbent Republicans Robert J. Guthrie and Patricia B. Libero and elected Democrats Anne Heffernan, Andrea Talamelli and Caryll “Cebi” Waterfield.

DeGennaro will also swear in incumbent Republican Ralph P. Biondi and elected Democrats Joseph W. Harvey III and Mark P. Palmieri to the Board of Assessment Appeals.

The West Haven Charter mandates that all elected officials take the oath of office on the first Sunday in December.

The inauguration will commence with a procession led by the West Haven Police Color Guard and a mayoral honor guard composed of fire and police chiefs from the city and the University of New Haven.

The ceremony will feature Rossi’s inaugural address and include musical selections performed by the West Haven High School Band under the direction of Cassandra K. Marcella.

Vietnam veteran William “Bill” Benson, grand marshal of the city’s 2019 Memorial Day parade, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Jaclyn Chiarelli will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and West Haven High junior Nora E. Mullins will sing “America the Beautiful.”

The event will also include a special cheer routine performed by West Haven Seahawks cheerleaders.

The public is invited to a reception that will follow in the school cafeteria.

Rossi, a certified public accountant most recently at Whitten, Horton + Gibney LLP in Orange, is no stranger to public service in West Haven.

She is a former five-term councilwoman who was elected to represent the 7th District on the City Council in 2005. She served as chairwoman of the Finance Committee from 2007 to 2015.

Rossi lives in the 7th District with her husband of 38 years, Arthur Rossi. They have two sons, Angelo and Stephen, and two grandchildren, Arthur, 9, and Julianna, 4 months.

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 26, 2019 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi has announced the city’s participation in the 10th annual Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30.

Nov. 30 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 Rossi hopes take advantage of sales at downtown specialty shops.

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

“Patronizing a West Haven small business is a great way to kick off your holiday shopping,” Rossi said. “While you’re downtown for the tree lighting, why not stop at one of the stores or restaurants. Whether you’re looking for items for your holiday table — fresh flowers, truffle products or gourmet meats — or perhaps jewelry, wine or gift cards, West Haven small businesses have you covered.”

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, U.S. shoppers reported spending an estimated $17.8 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday in 2018.

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. 30.

“West Haven’s diversity is reflected in our small businesses,” Rossi said. “When you support a small business, you’re supporting our community as well.”

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

Read the Proclamation.

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

Peer advocates

Peer advocates giving out toys collected by Park-Rec

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 19, 2019 — City recreation program coordinator Diane Dietman, third from back left, and West Haven High School peer advocates flank a box of toys at the Department of Parks and Recreation on Nov. 18.

The toys were donated to the department’s “Christmas in July” toy drive, which was co-sponsored by the Connecticut Recreation & Parks Association and Christmas Wish CT, a charity committed to sharing the spirit of Christmas year-round.

Park-Rec collected more than 1,000 new, unwrapped toys in July and early August at its Painter Park office, swimming pool venues, and camp and playground programs.

The department has given a portion of the collected toys to Christmas toy drives being held by the West Haven High Peer Advocacy Program and West Haven Professional Fire Fighters Local 1198 for those in need.

Residents wishing to receive toys for city children 12 and younger who are under their guardianship must fill out a registration form at Proof of residence is required for registration, which ends Dec. 13.

To make an online donation to the peer advocates’ Toys for Joy campaign, visit

(City Photo/Camdyn Morgillo)

Lowe’s gives back again, builds West Haven’s 1st gaga pit

The new gaga pit in Painter Park built by employees from Lowe’s of Milford. Gaga is a form of dodgeball played in an octagon-shaped structure, or pit. (City Photo/Tom Conroy)

Lowe’s gives back again, builds West Haven’s 1st gaga pit

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 19, 2019 — Employees from Lowe’s of Milford have built West Haven its first gaga pit in the heart of Painter Park.

For those who don’t know, gaga is a form of dodgeball played in an octagon-shaped structure, or pit.

To accommodate the popular children’s game, a group of Lowe’s volunteers recently erected a gaga pit, measuring 20 feet long, 20 feet wide and 4 feet high, with a way for climbing in and out, said city project coordinator Tom Conroy, acting director of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Lowe’s constructed the wooden gaga pit, which includes a mulch base, next to the basketball court behind the Noyes Field dugout, where shade is provided, Conroy said.

The home improvement store donated the labor and materials for the project, which took two weeks to complete, he said.

According to Conroy, Lowe’s called him over the summer to see if the city had any projects for its volunteer program.

“Kids from the Summer Adventure Camp had visited a place where they had a gaga pit and loved it and asked if we could get one,” Conroy said. “So when Lowe’s came along, we thought this was a great idea.”

The game combines dodging, striking, running and jumping. Players hit the ball at each other with their hands and are eliminated if the ball strikes them on or below the waist. The last player to not get hit by the ball is the winner.

Lowe’s, headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina, is no stranger to giving back to West Haven.

Three years ago, employees from four area Lowe’s stores — Derby, Milford, New Haven and Orange — volunteered their time to renovate the Painter Park wooden playground on Kelsey Avenue.

For five weeks, starting Aug. 26, 2016, dozens of Lowe’s employees painstakingly restored the castle-themed playscape for their annual “Lowe’s Heroes” community service project.

On Oct. 15, 2016, West Haven officials dedicated the refurbished “Maureen’s Dream” playground in honor of park neighbor and former city schoolteacher Maureen Blake.


City issues snow rules for parking

WEST HAVEN, Nov. 19, 2019 — To help crews expedite snow removal, Public Works Commissioner Tom McCarthy is reminding residents and businesses to observe parking regulations during and after storms.

Per the “Severe Weather” parking ordinance under Chapter 188 of the West Haven Code, police will tag and tow vehicles violating the ordinance at the owner’s expense. Violators will receive a $100 fine.

Once snow begins to fall, a parking ban is in effect on the even-numbered side of most roads, unless one is posted with a “No Parking” sign on the odd side.

The ban is in effect for 36 hours after a storm. Residents are urged to park in driveways or designated private lots.

However, during an official snow emergency declared by Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, a parking ban will run from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on both sides of Campbell and Savin avenues, Morgan Lane, Elm Street, Meloy Road, Second Avenue from Elm to Beach streets, and Main Street from Savin to Washington avenues.

McCarthy is also reminding residents and businesses to shovel their sidewalks within 24 hours after a storm or face a $25 fine “for each day that the violation persists.”

According to the “Removal of Snow and Ice” ordinance under Chapter 195 of the West Haven Code, people are given 24 hours to remove snow from sidewalks on and bordering their properties. Violators are subject to the $25-per-day fine, which is enforced by the Police Department, the ordinance states.

To report a complaint, call the department’s nonemergency line at 203-937-3900. Complaints are kept confidential.

McCarthy also pointed out that plowing or blowing snow into city streets is prohibited and violators are subject to a $60 fine for each offense, per the ordinance.

Also, residents and businesses with mailboxes damaged by snow thrown from a plow are the responsibility of the property owner. The city will only repair mailboxes damaged by the striking of a plow blade if there is visible evidence, such as paint or tire tracks.

Snow removal around mailboxes is the property owner’s responsibility.

Residents are also urged to help firefighters keep hydrants clear of snow.

For more information, call the Department of Public Works at 203-937-3585 or visit Public Works.

For the latest news and information, subscribe to the city’s Facebook page at

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