Tag Archives: new britain

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Ordinances Protested At Common Council Meeting

 By Irene W. Yukash

Hoards of people protested outside New Britain town hall Wednesday night around the time of the Common Council Meeting.  The ones that made it into the overly packed meeting voiced their opposing opinions to Mayor Tim O’Brien’s newly placed ordinances.

“Apparently they think another $150 punitive fine on landlords good or bad is the solution and I don’t understand,” said Nicholas Mercier, President of Citizens Property Owners Association.

The ordinance that has already passed requires landlords to pay a $150-per-unit annual fee starting next year.  According to city officials, the ordinance is to protect New Britain from blight.

“What they’re really opposed to is being told they can’t continue driving properties in the ground,” said Phil Sherwood, a spokesman for O’Brien, reported by the Connecticut Post. “Most of them could care less about the quality of life in the neighborhoods. They just want to make sure the rent check is theirs.”

If the ordinance is put into affect as planned, landlords of large apartment complexes could be paying tens of thousands more dollars per year in taxes and fines.  Many argued that the extra money would affect the wallets of not only landlords, but tenants as well.

“They’re forcing us to increase rents on tenants that really can’t afford it,” said Sam Zherka, New Britain landowner.  “By imposing these fines on us it’s going to enforce us to impose these fines on the tenants.”  He led the crowd outside with his megaphone.

“We need a new mayor, vote him out!” chanted the crowd as they waived signs and American flags.  Amongst them was New Britain tenant Yashira Santiago.  Her sign was aimed at the 911 Hot Spot Ordinance passed several months ago.  The ordinance allows excessive callers of 911 to be fined.

“This should be a service, we’re all taxpayers, we shouldn’t have to extra pay for our safety,” said Santiago. “All of these things are going to affect our rent, we need to our full show our support for everything going on,” she added.

Inside the meeting, Mercier alluded to Zherka’s fear on increasing rent on tenants.  “They can’t afford two dollars in increased rent a month, let alone fifteen,” he added.  The over packed room was filled with cheer and applause.

Mercier, along with many other participants asked O’Brien to repeal the ordinances or face difficulties in the next election. But this isn’t the first attempt to fight back, and according to several residents, it’s not the last.  As of Tuesday, several landlords took action to sue the city of New Britain.

“Work with the realtors, work with the Connecticut Property Owners Alliance to put in effective policies that will address blight and will improve quality of life in our city,” concluded Mercier.

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‘Hot Spot’ Ordinance Passed At New Britain Common Council

By Amanda Webster

In a moment of noise-clouded haste, the New Britain common council passed the “hot spot” ordinance Thursday night without any debate from the council.

A special meeting was called by Mayor Timothy O’Brien early on Thursday and he said that the council would be voting on the “hot spot” ordinance along with a new ordinance that will set a flat-rate fee of $150 that will be charged to landlords, which effectively will be passed down to tenants.

Both ordinances can have a direct impact on off-campus CCSU students.  This revised version of the “hot spot” ordinance allows the city to charge every property that receives as few as five police or fire responses in a year the city costs for the properties which receive the highest number of emergency responses, all at the discretion of the police who are called to the scene.

The majority of people at the meeting were there to oppose the flat-rate fee for landlords. Students from CCSU were there showing concern for both ordinances. Some held signs that said, “CCSU Blue Devils are not cash cows.”

The meeting was originally scheduled for Oct. 10. According to the New Britain Herald, O’Brien ordered the change in date and time and let the aldermen know Wednesday afternoon. There are no public hearings during special meetings.

The meeting room was packed with about 200 people, most of whom opposed the ordinances. Some people wielded For Sale signs signifying that if the ordinance were to pass they would consider leaving their property. Others had duct tape covering their mouths to show that the public had no say in what the city council would vote on.

Alderman Jamie Giantonio made a motion at the beginning of the meeting to suspend the normal meeting rules and allow members of the public a time slot of two minutes to speak. After some deliberation the motion was denied, prompting angry-cat calling from the room.

O’Brien had to rap his gavel several times and remind the public to quiet down. Giantonio addressed the outbursts before he began his debate on the issue.

“Comments like that do not help this cause,” said Giantonio. “There are people on this council that you will not agree with tonight and there are people on this council you will agree with. We will disagree but we will disagree respectfully.”

Giantonio was one of four aldermen who opposed the annual fee for landlords.

“This is not just something that’s going to adversely impact multiple families, but it’s going to impact everyone’s value in the city of New Britain,” Giantonio said.

“If we pass this, it may not seem like it’s an awful lot but that is going to be passed down to the tenants,” continued Giantonio. “Some of these people are just barely making it.”

According to the councilmen the landlord fee has been brought up at prior meetings and the public had their chance to add feedback.

The annual fee was passed 11 – 4, causing an uproar in the crowd. Most of the chamber emptied quickly after. During the upset with the public the council proceeded to vote on the “hot spot” ordinance. There was no debate and the ordinance was passed with the same 11 – 4 vote. Giantonio went on the record to show that he also opposed the “hot spot” ordinance.

Aldermen Pabon, Carlozzi and Centeno also voted against the ordinances.

Some CCSU students thought that it was unfair that they didn’t have the right to speak and thought the last minute meeting change was a desperate measure. They were also frustrated that most of the public didn’t seem to realize that the second ordinance was being passed.

Michelle Zohlman, a CCSU student that lives off-campus and an SGA senator, attended the meeting and said she was disappointed in the outcome.

“I did not like the way it was held and that it was a very last minute meeting, which shows how it was meant to be kind of sneaky and to get their way,” said Zohlman. “It wasn’t very democratic of them.”

SGA President Eric Bergenn was also at the meeting and was frustrated with the council and the entire process that the ordinance went through.

“It’s atrocious,” said Bergenn, addressing the last minute nature of the meeting. “It laughs in the face of democracy. They knew how we were against this. They knew it was probably the least popular thing they could do to raise that money but they’re running out of time so they tried to slip it in without anyone noticing.”

Despite the passing of both ordinances Bergenn said that he didn’t think the passing of them would hinder future students from living around campus.

Both city ordinances will go into effect immediately.

CCSU Police Officer Nabs Suspect

By Jonathan Stankiewicz

CCSU Police Officer Phillip Billings pulled over a suspect alleged to be responsible for armed robberies in Hartford and West Hartford.

Billings heard that the West Hartford Police were looking for a taxi cab that was believed to have a firearm in the vehicle. He was patrolling on campus and spotted a taxi cab, with the same cab number as the one reported, pulling into the BP gas station off campus on the corner of Manafort Drive and Stanley Street.

Seeing the Glock 9mm handgun, he called for backup.

New Britain, West Hartford and Hartford Police Departments responded, said Billings.

Hartford Police took the driver into custody and charged him with possession of a stolen firearm, said Billings. He added that there are additional charges pending. The passenger was released.

The driver of the taxi cab is from New Britain, said Billings.

Dispatchers at the campus police department are made aware of potential suspects and emergencies that could affect campus safety.

Stay tuned for a police report on the case.

U.S. House Candidate Talks Politics in New Britain Event


Chris Donovan On The Campaign Trail Photo By Nicholas Proch

By Nicholas Proch

“I’d like to turn over the floor to our next congressman, Chris Murphy.” This sentence was followed by laughter, as Donovan took the microphone. This informal camaraderie was the general feeling of the day, as it was a very small and intimate gathering of supporters.

Chris Donovan is the current Speaker of the House in the Connecticut House of Representatives. He is now running for U.S. Congress, representing Connecticut’s fifth district.

Donovan’s major talking points were about job creation in the state and his track record of doing so. “We’ve raised the minimum wage 12 times, we’ve past-paid sick leave,” he said while listing his accomplishments in the state House.

The Democrat also took the time to address Rick Perry’s recent criticism of the federal social security program. Donovan told the story of his grandfather who came to this country as an immigrant worker and lived to be 93 years old, living off of his earned social security.

Following his quick speech, Donovan took the time to meet and greet the people who took the time on a Saturday morning to come hear him speak.

Donovan also took the time after his speech to talk informally about education and the workforce; both hot plate items for the Democratic Party right now.

“Why are we laying off teachers, when we know people need jobs and we need teachers?” Donovan asked. He continued by saying, “these are not just a job, but a good job with good benefits that people feel good about.”

Supporters of Donovan included Robert ‘Bobby’ Sanchez, state representative from the 25th district. He talked about the most recent budget passed at the state level.

“The good thing about that budget was that it didn’t go into deep, deep cuts which could have affected a lot of other services and education as a whole,” Sanchez said. He then went on to talk about what he thought was possible for state education in Connecticut, a position he shares with Donovan.

“In regards to CCSU, I strongly believe that Connecticut residents here should be able to go to any [public] college in the state, free of charge,” Sanchez said. He believes this would take  a burden off of a number of students in the state.

“No one who is a Connecticut resident should have to pay for an education,” Sanchez continued. “That’s my belief and, I’ve talked to Chris [Donovan] about it, and he believes that is absolutely right.”

Donovan will continue to campaign for support throughout the state. His policies on education and more can be found on his campaign website.

Busway Project Rolls Along

The Map of The Busway

By Kassondra Granata
The New Britain-Hartford busway project has moved from the planning stage and will begin the permitting process.

CCSU held a town hall-style meeting for the busway project on Sept. 7 in Torp Theatre, where representatives from the Connecticut departments of Energy and Environment Protection (DEEP) and Transportation attended to discuss permits.

In August, U.S. Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman announced that nearly $6 million in federal funding became available for land acquisition, site work and professional services for the project.

The busway project will be a new 9.4 mile transit system developed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, linking downtown New Britain with downtown Hartford. The plan is expected to cost over $500 million and will circulate downtown providing a direct connection to major employers and destinations.

The project has been under consideration since 2003 and has experienced fluctuating public support through three governors and the better part of a decade. State Democrats have been largely supportive of the plan as a sustainable approach to public transportation, while opponents in the Republican party have criticized the project as too expensive.

Richard Bachoo, chief administrative officer at CCSU, has a hand in this project with a responsibility for facilities. Bachoo oversees the production on East Campus along with the university representative to the Department of Transportation.

“This project here is a statewide priority,” Bachoo said. “The goal is to start construction at the end of 2012, beginning of 2013; it’s 95 percent completed when it comes to being designed.”

The developers of this project hope to reduce the congestion on the I-84 corridor and bring people in the New Britain and Hartford area back and forth on a regular basis.

“The University spends well over $60,000 a year on transporting people from the Hartford area to the University,” Bachoo said. “The busway would run through part of property that CCSU owns, it’s a perfect area.”

According to the plan, distributed by Capitol Region Council of Governments, the busway would bring life to downtown New Britain and help to provide opportunities to fill housing on vacant and unused areas.

“The busway will reduce the amount of commuters driving and also will ultimately reduce pollution,” said Bachoo.

SGA President Eric Bergenn intended to speak on behalf of CCSU students at a public hearing in August, but was delayed due to the rescheduling of the planned SGA retreat. Bergenn shared his thoughts in an interview with The Recorder.

“There are many students who would take advantage of this bus system,” Bergenn said. “This is a unifier of communities.”

In April, Governor Dannel Malloy aggressively made a statement to pursue the busway project to the next step.

“The busway is ‘ready to go’ with 80 percent federal funding and a commitment from the Federal Transit Administration to sign a Full Funding Grant Agreement,” Governor Malloy said. “The proposed revitalization of the commuter rail line is in the early stages of study and planning. We are working towards a comprehensive multi-modal system that will not only move people and goods more efficiently but, more critically, foster economic growth and an improved quality of life for Connecticut residents.”

According to the Hartford Courant, the DEEP is expected to decide later this summer or in the fall whether to authorize wetlands permits for the busway.

Project Main Street: The New Britain-Hartford Busway

“Project Main Street: The New Britain-Hartford Busway” is the final project of CCSU journalism students in John Dankosky’s “Story in Sound” class.  This thirty minute program, split into three parts, includes reporting from Vanessa Johnson, Jamie Horton, Graig Hargraves, Liz Walczok, Sarah Bogues, Matthew Clyburn and Barbara Gagne.

Click to listen:

Busway Class Final Part One

Busway Class Final Part Two

Busway Class Final Part Three