Parking garage sought for new UConn 10-23-00
WATERBURY - When students show up in the fall of 2002 at the new
University of Connecticut campus on East Main Street, they may find
plenty of space to park in a new 2 1/2-level garage next to their
The garage could cost up to $5 million - an early estimate - and would
also be used by visitors and faculty. Officials aren't sure yet
whether the public will also use it.
Board members of the Naugatuck Valley Development Corp. learned of the
parking garage proposal at their meeting Friday. They were told the
new campus - which will replace the one in the Hillside neighborhood
district, about a mile away - needs a 285-space parking facility.
The NVDC is the city's economic development agency and is spearheading
the larger, downtown revitalization project, which includes buying
land for the UConn campus.
"We meet with UConn officials every two weeks, and they've
expressed a need for their own parking facility," Michael
O'Connor, NVDC executive director, said Friday.
The proposed garage would be next to the campus, which will be built
along East Main Street, across from the Palace theater.
The theater is being restored as part of the downtown project.
An arts magnet middle and high school is also planned, along with
another parking deck on Spring Street that will replace the public
parking garage there now.
At one time, officials thought the new Spring Street garage would also
be able to meet UConn's parking needs, but then decided it could not.
For decades, parking has been a frustrating problem mostly for
students at the current Hillside branch. Although there is a parking
lot on campus, it is small and mostly reserved for faculty and staff.
Students have to find parking on one of the many small and narrow
streets around the campus.
The proposed 285-space facility for UConn's downtown campus would
likely be built above a parking lot prominent Waterbury attorney
Timothy Moynahan owns, O'Connor said, with the NVDC possibly leasing
the space above that lot to build the new garage.
"We plan on negotiating for permanent easements for footings for
the garage, and then we would negotiate air rights. We don't intend to
buy the land the garage sits over," he said.
The garage would be located behind the Moriarty Building. Another of
Moynahan's buildings at 97 E. Main St. may also be bought for the
"We would buy easements for the footings, so it would cut down on
costs," O'Connor said.
Before the garage project moves forward, however, the NVDC would have
to secure more funding, said Daniel Sahl, the group's deputy director.
"The cost of the garage depends on its final design," he
said, "and that is all subject to approval."
The NVDC would build the garage, then turn ownership over to UConn.
The structure would likely be a pre-cast cement facility.
Once completed, the college campus will measure 900,000 square feet,
not including the parking deck. The new campus will feature more
four-year and master's degree programs.
So far, $22 million has been appropriated for the UConn branch, and
the NVDC received another $4 million for buying, demolishing and
remediating East Main Street properties for the college campus and the
Waterbury UConn to offer 4-year, graduate programs
Saturday,April 29, 2000
By Brenda Marks
© 2000 Republican-American
WATERBURY Selected four-year degrees and graduate programs will
be offered at the new University of Connecticut campus in downtown
Waterbury, officials said Friday.
Although the facility may not be completed until 2002, some courses
will be offered as early as January 2001. The Connecticut State
University System will offer a four-year criminal justice and a
nursing program in the new structure.
The campus will be across the street from the Palace theater, which
is supposed to be restored.
"This is quite a coup for Waterbury," said Michael
O'Connor, executive director of the Naugatuck Valley Development Corp.
Once UConn moves to its new, $20 million building on East Main
Street, plans call for the city to get ownership of the existing
facility in the Hillside neighborhood.
At a NVDC meeting Friday, board members learned how
the city will benefit from the new UConn facility. Since the NVDC
will buy properties on East Main Street for the university's campus
and then turn them over to the university as one parcel UConn
likely will donate its present facility to the city, O'Connor said.
"We're working with UConn and the state in getting the
properties for UConn," he said. "We will assemble them and
then donate them to UConn."
The acquisition budget will come from a $15 million grant awarded
to the city for a broader downtown redevelopment effort. It's
uncertain at this time how much of that money will be used for the
UConn branch. A portion of it also is going to purchase the Palace
theater and land for an arts magnet school. The state Legislature
still has to give its final approval on the $20 million in
The planned UConn campus will measure between 80,000 to 90,000
square feet. It will serve up to 1,000 students, a sizable increase
from the estimated 500 enrolled.
The NVDC is Waterbury's economic development agency. In addition to
assembling land for the new university campus, the agency also is
charged with finding a replacement tenant for the Hillside facility.
The NVDC has helped link a Jewish organization, Torah Umesorah, to the
spot. The Jewish organization wants to create a school in Waterbury's
Hillside branch after the college relocates. It will lease the campus
from the city.
Torah Umesorah recently signed a purchase option to buy Beth El
Synagogue on Cooke Street to start the day school in Waterbury as
early a the fall.
Torah Umesorah has signed a tentative agreement to lease the
Hillside facility, O'Connor said.
The new UConn campus is a vital component to the city's arts and
entertainment district being created through redevelopment. The
overall project includes an arts magnet school, the restored Palace
theater and the university. The effort aims to draw more people
downtown, spur more businesses and support those in existence.
Trustees OK UConn move
Bachelor's, master's programs also approved
Wednesday,April 12, 2000
By Randal Edgar
© 2000 Republican-American
Legislature needs to approve money for new campus.
State Board of Governors for Higher Education must approve new
Naugatuck Valley Development Corp. needs to finalize plans to lease
Hillside campus to new tenant.
WEST HARTFORD A plan to move the University of Connecticut's
Waterbury campus from the historic Hillside Neighborhood to downtown
to complement an economic revitalization effort won unanimous approval
Tuesday from UConn's Board of Trustees.
The move if funded by the Legislature would see Waterbury's
UConn campus relocate to a new 80,000- to 100,000-square-foot building
on East Main Street, across from what city officials hope will be a
revitalized Palace theater and a new arts magnet school for middle and
high school students.
UConn trustees answering a decades-old plea for more programs
also voted Tuesday to approve a bachelor's degree program in
business administration for the Waterbury campus. The new program is
expected to attract 200 students by its fourth year.
And trustees approved master's degree programs in finance and
technology management for the Tri-Campus, created last year to allow
UConn's Waterbury, Torrington and West Hartford campuses to share
programs and function as a single entity.
Taken together, the developments had some observers calling Tuesday
one of the most significant in the Waterbury campus's sometimes
troubled 50-year history.
"It's going to be a new building, new programs. It'll draw
people who would not otherwise be interested in attending," said
Michael Cichetti, a Waterbury attorney and UConn trustee. "I
think it buys a lot of activity. ... There's a lot of students right
now who want to go to UConn who can't get up to (the main campus in)
The new, $20 million campus would be located on the north side of
East Main Street, between
Phoenix Avenue and Spring Street, said Francis Brennan, interim
director of the Waterbury campus. Plans are still being developed, but
the building would have a courtyard and be two or three stories,
Brennan said. The Legislature is expected to vote this spring on a
bonding package that would include money for the campus.
The four-year business program which, along with the other new
programs, still needs approval from the state Board of Governors for
Higher Education would offer concentrations in technology
management, financial management and entrepreneurship. The program
would be significant because it would be the first four-year program
offered at the campus, with the potential of substantially boosting
As part of the Tri-Campus, UConn-Waterbury offers a four-year
program in urban studies, as well as a general studies major that lets
students with more than 60 credits customize a plan of studies as they
earn a bachelor's degree. But most students at the commuter campus
attend for one or two years before moving on to UConn's main campus in
Storrs. The Waterbury campus has about 500 students, most of them full
time, Brennan said.
Fred Maryanski, interim UConn chancellor, said a new building and
campus will help attract students and make it easier to add programs
because the building will have up-to-date technology. Maryanski said
master's programs in public administration and public opinion are
planned for Waterbury, but knew of no other programs being considered.
Maryanski said the programs approved Tuesday will be offered when
the new campus opens. Brennan said the opening likely would be in fall
2002 or spring 2003.
The approval comes as the Naugatuck Valley Development Corp., the
city's economic development agency, is working to lease the Hillside
campus to Torah Umesorah, a Jewish group that wants to open a day
school. The approval should be good news to Torah Umesorah, which has
been anxiously awaiting a decision, said NVDC attorney Gary O'Connor.
O'Connor and Brennan said UConn has pledged not to move until a
suitable tenant is found for the Hillside campus.
Congregation approves sale of synagogue
Saturday,March 25, 2000
By Brenda Marks
© 2000 Republican-American
WATERBURY Members of Beth El Synagogue voted to sell their
Cooke Street building to Torah Umesorah, a national Jewish group that
wants to open an Orthodox school in Waterbury.
The Waterbury congregation voted 131-1 Thursday to allow Torah
Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, to purchase
their synagogue. Torah Umesorah recently signed an option to buy the
Waterbury synagogue and put down a $50,000 deposit, said Rabbi Zvi
Bloom, executive director of Torah Umesorah. Another $100,000 is due
in 30 days. The total sale price is $600,000. The deal should be
finalized in September. "We're happy to hear (of the vote). We
are under way to start advertising for a staff," Bloom said
Still, the deal hinges on a larger plan to move the University of
Connecticut campus downtown to a new, $20 million building and
Torah Umesorah expanding into the existing college branch on
Buckingham Street. If the college does not move, it's unlikely Torah
Umesorah would stay in the city.
"We will just switch locations. We wouldn't stay in
Waterbury," said Rabbi Nate Segal, also of Torah Umesorah.
As long as everything goes through as planned, Torah Umesorah
intends to open an Orthodox day school as early as this fall in the
Cooke Street building. The organization wants to lease the UConn
branch. But that's contingent on the proposed UConn facility being
built downtown on East Main Street. The Jewish group would then lease
the old UConn campus in the Hillside neighborhood. State lawmakers are
expected to vote this session on the $20 million appropriation for the
proposed Waterbury UConn campus.
The new UConn campus is part of a larger economic development
project aiming to revitalize the downtown. There are also plans to
build a new arts magnet school and renovate and reopen the Palace
theater. Finding a replacement tenant for the existing UConn campus is
vital to the health of the Hillside district, neighbors there have
"The (purchase of Beth El Synagogue) shows Torah Umesorah's
financial commitment and desire to locate a school in the Hillside and
Overlook communities," said Michael O'Connor, executive director
of the Naugatuck Valley Development Corp. The NVDC is the city's
economic development agency. It is charged with finding a replacement
for the UConn campus should the college be moved.
"The state is looking to appropriate the money for UConn
during this legislative session," he said. "Our belief is
that UConn will endorse that because House Democrats and the
governor's budget both have the $20 million in them for UConn to move
If the new UConn branch is approved for Waterbury, the NVDC would
then work with the college to sign on a tenant for the Buckingham
"We believe we have that tenant in Torah Umesorah,"
O'Connor said. "And our belief is that the community feels the
same way." An agreement between the NVDC and Torah Umesorah
regarding the UConn campus could be signed this summer, he said. But
it would be several years before the college would actually move.
When the Jewish day school starts up on Cooke Street, it will have
roughly 20 students in post high school level courses, Bloom said, and
an 11th grade.
"There is a group of about seven families interested in moving
their kids to a closer school in Waterbury," he said. "We
anticipate (bringing in)15 married families at first, with 35 to 40
students to start this fall."
Joel Burger, president of the Beth El Synagogue, called the
agreement with Torah Umesorah, a "wonderful thing for the city
and wonderful for Beth El."
The congregation is made up of 160 single and family memberships.
Founded in 1924, Beth El will build a new synagogue in Greater
"It is a miracle to sell to another Jewish organization so the
synagogue retains its Jewish historical nature," he said.
"And the Greater Waterbury area will benefit by bringing in more
people to the local community."
Segal said the pending sale was a major step forward.
"Our first major decision is to hire someone to run the place,
a dean. And we have someone in mind," he said. "And we can
look forward to the fall."
Package benefits UConn campus
Waterbury branch gets financial aid
February 29, 2000
By Suzan Bibisi
© 2000 Republican-American
HARTFORD If lawmakers approve the governor's budget proposal,
students will be attending classes at the University of Connecticut in
downtown Waterbury by fall 2003 and they will be able to get a
four-year degree there, depending on their major.
Gov. John G. Rowland on Wednesday proposed that $20 million of $56
million in general obligation bonds be awarded to the UConn Waterbury
campus to build a school downtown. The campus now is in the historic
Hillside neighborhood, on the outskirts of downtown.
The proposal is in keeping with Rowland's program to help revive
Connecticut cities, in part, by placing state schools downtown. The
state did so with the UConn branch in Stamford and is proposing to
move a state school in Hartford downtown.
Rowland also proposed $1 million in separate funding to help the
UConn branch in Waterbury offer four-year degrees. The campus now
offers only two-year degrees. Students seeking a bachelor's degree
typically have to transfer to the campus in Storrs.
The governor also proposed offering the Stamford branch $1.1
million and the Avery Point branch $400,000 to establish four-year
degree programs. It could not be determined Wednesday why Torrington
and Hartford branches were not included in the funding to offer
The university has proposed a tri-campus plan that involves
Torrington, Hartford and Waterbury to enable them to offer four-year
Under Rowland's plan, UConn and Southern Connecticut State
University in New Haven will develop complementary degree programs at
the new Waterbury campus. UConn will expand offerings at Stamford and
Francis Brennan, interim director of the UConn Waterbury campus, on
Wednesday said, if approved, the $20 million would help build the
downtown facility and help furnish it. The state already has awarded
UConn $2 million to design the campus.
Money will come from other sources to help build a proposed arts
magnet school near the downtown campus. Brennan said the new Waterbury
branch could open by the 2002-2003 school year.
"This is great news," Brennan said. "It happened
faster than I thought it would."
If approved, the $1 million for the four-year degree program would
be used to recruit and hire faculty, according to Brennan.
The first four-year degree programs offered likely are to be in
business management and management information systems, Brennan said.
Eventually, the campus will offer master's degree programs in business
administration and accounting, he said.
UConn option is floated
Hillside residents hear rabbi talk about Jewish school's proposal
February 29, 2000
By Brenda Marks
© 2000 Republican-American
WATERBURY In the 1960s, Maxine Watts rented in Hillside. By
1983, she had invested in the area by buying a house near the
University of Connecticut branch.
On Tuesday night she listened as Rabbi Zvi Bloom talked about a
proposed Jewish school that may move to the campus if UConn relocates
downtown. Should UConn's Board of Trustees agree to build a new, $20
million facility on East Main Street, a school backed by a New York
association of Hebrew schools, Torah Umesorah, could lease the
Hillside campus. Rabbi Bloom is its executive director.
Still, neighbors want to make sure a new neighbor would improve the
That's why Watts joined more than 50 people at a meeting to learn
more about the Jewish school. The gathering, held at UConn's branch,
was organized by the Hillside Historic District Neighborhood
Association so residents and the public could be more informed. While
many Hillside homeowners seemed accepting of the Jewish school,
several faculty members said they oppose the UConn move. At least one
taxpayer, Ray Rivard of Middlebury, a trustee of the board of
community-technical colleges and a trustee advisor to the state's
higher education board, wants the plan put to a ballot vote.
But Hillside neighbors seemed most concerned about what the Jewish
school would mean to them. Would the campus remain accessible? Are
orthodox Jews accepting of different cultures and lifestyles? Have any
Jewish schools ever failed?
"Whatever comes here should enhance this neighborhood,"
Watts said. "We don't want this campus to go down the tubes. We
need to keep it vibrant."
Bloom, who heads the national association representing roughly 650
Hebrew schools, said his group has $1 million set aside for a new
school. Torah Umesorah is considering three sites, including
Waterbury, he said. The campus, mainly the Benedict Miller House,
could be used by the
public, he said. Jews want to be accepted as neighbors just like
anyone else. And while some schools have closed, any conditions in a
lease would be honored, he said.
"We are anxious for an answer," Bloom said when asked
when they wanted to open. The Jewish group could open a school as
early as this fall in another spot. It would move to UConn's campus
once it is available.
A Jewish school in Waterbury hinges on a decision by UConn to
construct a downtown campus. A $20 million line item is on the state's
legislative agenda and may be voted on before summer, said Gary
O'Connor, an attorney with Drubner, Hartley, O'Connor & Mengacci
LLC, which represents the Naugatuck Valley Development Corp.
The NVDC is the city's economic development agency and is helping
to find a possible tenant for UConn's branch.
He believes the Jewish school offers the most vibrancy.
As part of an agreement to bring a Torah Umesorah school to
Waterbury, the organization would sign a long-term lease, agree to
move 100 home-buying families into the area within seven years and
consent to keep up the campus, O'Connor said.
"Not only will the Jewish school use the facility, they will
bring working families that buy homes," he said.
The NVDC is not pushing the UConn move. It is responsible for
finding a tenant if the college moves, said Michael O'Connor, NVDC
executive director who is not related to the attorney.
"They want to sign today," he said. "They're willing
to buy properties and show a financial commitment to Waterbury."
A study is being conducted of the feasibility of moving the UConn
branch downtown, he said.
Dorothea DiCecco, an associate professor of biology at UConn, said
she opposed the move. She'd rather see the existing campus improved,
or UConn move to the Naugatuck Valley Community Technical College
campus on the west side of the city.
"This wasn't initiated by UConn," she said. "This
was initiated by (Gov. John G. Rowland.)" Rowland has met with
Hillside neighbors. He has said he favors building a new campus for
Ronald Capaldo, president of the Overlook Community Club, said he
thought the Jewish school was favorable.
"I haven't seen UConn offer much commitment to this branch.
This campus has long been neglected by the state," he said.
Neighborhood weighs Jewish school
February 04, 2000
By Brenda Marks
© 2000 Republican-American
BALTIMORE When Joseph Dipasquales wanted to expand his Italian
market, he didn't look to an Italian neighborhood. Instead, he chose a
predominantly Jewish neighborhood.
Last October, Dipasquales at the Pikes, an Italian restaurant and
market, opened inside a renovated theater in Pikesville, a Baltimore
suburb. It is one of many non-kosher businesses in Pikesville's
Being non-kosher hasn't stopped the specialty shop from attracting
customers. Business has been good, Dipasquales said. He received state
and county aid to open the business on busy Reisterstown Road.
But why pick Pikesville, a neighborhood that is 80 percent Jewish?
"People here like to eat out, be catered to," he said.
"The Jewish community is a major part of my clientele." Some
people eat kosher. Some don't follow Jewish dietary laws.
Dipasquales' success may be a model for those in Waterbury who want
to establish a Jewish school and community in the Hillside district.
The school may be created where the University of Connecticut's
branch is housed that is if the college gets a new, $20 million
campus built downtown. The plan to move UConn's branch to the heart of
Waterbury is aimed at revitalizing the city's center. Economic
development officials believe bringing a Jewish school to Waterbury
could solve the problem of filling the void left if Hillside's UConn
Hillside is a small neighborhood of contrasts with numerous
owner-occupied, single-family homes and mini-mansions. There are also
three-family apartments and other dwellings. Some have fallen into
disrepair. Others sit vacant and boarded up.
Still, state and city officials believe the same economic spin-off
in suburban Baltimore that the Jewish community fostered, could be
replicated in Waterbury.
"When you see all of the businesses that have sprung up there,
the neighborhoods with home owners, I think a similar circumstance can
happen in Waterbury," said James F. Abromaitis, commissioner of
Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development. He
visited Pikesville last year.
"It can be better than Baltimore," he said.
"Hillside is a more condensed neighborhood."
Pikesville boasts a lively commercial strip along Reisterstown
Road. It runs for more than five miles through affluent neighborhoods,
suburban towns and stretches into the heart of slums and blight.
Near Dipasquales' market there is the Suburban House Restaurant.
Jewish seniors and families stop in for breakfast or lunch after
Sabbath services. The menu offers noodle kugel, a chopped herring
platter for $5.95 and cheese blintzes with sour cream. Nearby, a
kosher Dunkin Donuts pulls in plenty of customers. And the Seven Mile
Market, while outdated and in need of a renovation, is often packed
with customers who buy kosher foods.
At Goldberg's Kosher New York Bagels, manager Richard Alicea said
his business wouldn't survive without Jewish people. Customer Tracey
Bogetti, a Pikesville bank branch manager, said she likes the town
because of its strong sense of family values.
"It's a great place to work," she said.
Pikesville Hardware has been around for 80 years. Everything from
bikes and shovels, to keys and fireplace supplies can be found inside.
Store owner Jim Tupp said the Jewish community has revitalized the
northwest area of Baltimore.
"Young families are moving in," he said.
And that is partly why Dipasquales looked to Pikesville for his
restaurant and market.
Still, not all businesses have survived.
An upscale, kosher Chinese restaurant closed its doors. Business
was too slow. And a kosher grocery store, one of two at the time, also
folded. The Seven Mile Market was left to serve the kosher population.
It remains uncertain exactly how an Orthodox Jewish school would
impact Waterbury. Economic development officials here say the school
would pump new life and energy into Hillside.
There are differences between the Baltimore suburb of 16,000 and
Connecticut's fifth largest city of 105,000.
Waterbury's downtown has languished for years. Pikesville's center
has been stabilized for years. While Baltimore's Jewish citizenry has
been growing since the 1930s, Waterbury's Jewish synagogues have
declined in membership.
But Jewish yeshivas and schools have a track record for drawing
Jewish families. They are families who buy homes and emphasize
education, said Rabbi Judah Harris of Waterbury's Bnai Shalom, a
synagogue of mostly older members. Harris is a part-time rabbi at Bnai
It was Harris who initially pushed the idea to create a yeshiva in
Waterbury similar to Baltimore's Ner Israel Rabbinical College. He got
the idea from a synagogue member's son. The Waterbury Jewish group is
hoping for a decision from the state in February. Harris and Hillside
neighbors toured Pikesville on a fact-finding trip last week.
"The idea was to revive the community and from that, the
synagogue would be revived," Harris said. "We have the
financial backing. We've lined up top educators."
Jewish Orthodox families often band together to start a new Jewish
community or they move into a struggling one. They open
businesses. They shop at local stores.
Another advantage: Jewish communities bring safety to an area.
They've helped make neighborhoods safer in Baltimore, said Dina
Blaustein, program director of the Northwest Citizens Patrol, a
volunteer neighborhood watch group that boasts 10 patrol cars. The
organization protects Baltimore's northwest neighborhoods. Volunteers
patrol nightly with police officers to deter crime.
Since its inception 17 years ago, street crime has dropped 70
percent. And a complementary group, Project Recourse, follows
criminals through the court system to make sure they are held
responsible for their crimes.
"Criminals know we don't play around here," Blaustein
Visitors don't truly understand the magnitude the Jewish community
has had on the region until they drive on Park Heights Avenue toward
the inner city. After crossing one street, the neighborhood changes
drastically. Boarded up row homes replace tidy houses with fenced in
frontyards. Gone are the synagogues, the private schools, the
The inner city sits next to the Jewish community. It is as
different as night and day.
Nancy Kramer Garfinkel, executive director of Pikesville Chamber of
Commerce, said she fields calls from Jewish people worldwide. They
call seeking information on Baltimore's Jewish community.
"When they come they create their own restaurants, start
businesses of their own," she said. "They certainly
patronize local businesses like cleaners, banks."
Today Pikesville and Baltimore City are stable and growing suburbs
of Baltimore. Population-wise, the two towns are roughly 80 percent
Jewish. And between the two towns there are more than 50 Jewish
institutions and organizations including synagogues, schools and
agencies, including Ner Israel, said Art Abramson, executive director
of the Baltimore Jewish Council.
He admits there have been difficulties at times between the races.
But none that are insurmountable.
"Sure there are problems," Abramson said. "When
neighborhoods change, people move in who don't know each other. Over
time they tend to work together. Blacks and Jews live amongst each
other here and they live in relative comfort. It is unique here."
The housing market is thriving, said Adele Kass, senior aide to
county Councilman Kevin Kamenetz. She stressed the Jewish population
helped transform the region.
"Northwest Baltimore City and county are the fastest-growing
Orthodox Jewish communities in the country," she said.
"There is a high demand for houses. They're never on the market
Ken Gelula, executive director of the Comprehensive Housing
Assistance Inc., an agency that helps people acquire home loans, said
Ner Israel has had a phenomenal impact on Jewish life in the Baltimore
"It's impossible to underestimate the vitality," he said.
"No question, it's had a impact. Certainly without Ner Israel
this would not be as strong a community."
Hillside residents told to give up UConn battle
February 04, 2000
By David Hammer
© 2000 Republican-American
WATERBURY The truth was sobering, but three Hillside residents
told neighbors Tuesday it is time to accept the proposed move of the
city's University of Connecticut branch campus out of their
neighborhood as a "fait accompli."
For more than a month, Marianne Vandenburgh, Thomas Nalband and
Andrea Pape had worked as a fact-finding committee from the Hillside
Historic District Neighborhood Association. They participated in
meetings with Gov. John G. Rowland and paid their own way to Baltimore
to tour a Jewish school similar to one that could move into the
vacated UConn campus.
Although they acknowledged the neighborhood association voted to
oppose a state- and city-endorsed plan to move the campus downtown,
Vandenburgh, Nalband and Pape told 30 Hillside residents and four
UConn faculty to "move on."
"Let's not beat a dead horse," said Pape. "Let's get
Nalband told neighbors, "Unless the state committed to a new
UConn facility downtown, there wouldn't be enough funding to keep the
Waterbury branch open."
The focus of the meeting was on the trio's trip to Ner Israel
Rabbinical College and the Jewish community that has sprung up around
it in Pikesville, Md., a suburb of Baltimore. Torah Umesorah, an
umbrella organization that established 600 yeshivas such as Ner Israel
around the country, has agreed to move into the vacant campus in 2003,
if UConn moves.
If it can receive assurances UConn will move downtown, Torah
Umesorah would buy Beth El Synagogue on Cooke Street, which is for
sale, and start small classes there, moving 10 families into area
homes immediately. Torah Umesorah also would guarantee at least 100
families would move to within a 2-mile radius of the campus and its
religious institutions. The families would have to live within a
reasonable walking distance, because Orthodox Jews cannot drive cars
on the Sabbath.
Rabbi Chaim Nate Segal, who is involved in Torah Umesorah's
Waterbury search team, said the umbrella group was anxious for an
answer and is hoping for definitive word from the state by the end of
Torah Umesorah expressed interest in buying the campus land, but
the Naugatuck Valley Development Corp., which has been charged with
finding a viable replacement for the Hillside campus, wanted a lease,
"so the Jewish community could save its capital for home
ownership," Nalband said.
The lease would be at least 10 years and possibly 20, Vandenburgh
Neighbors, such as Eleanor Herbst, the neighborhood association's
president, hoped other options would be considered by the state and
The three committee members generally approved of what Torah
Umesorah's group could add to the community, but told neighbors they
experienced a range of reactions and emotions during their visit Jan.
Pape said the Jewish community she saw in Maryland was "less
similar than I expected it to be" and she expressed concern
Orthodox Jews' isolationism would somehow take away from Hillside's
But Nalband disagreed, saying a Jewish community could only add to
the community's diversity. He also said the unique needs of an
Orthodox community should spawn commercial activity, such as kosher
groceries and delis, to which one man in the audience said, "At
least we'll get a good Kosher deli in here."
Nalband did caution the neighborhood association to keep a close
eye on Torah Umesorah's financial wherewithal.
One association member, Joshua Angelus, expressed concern over a
staunch religious group's views on gays. Torah Umesorah's stance on
gay rights is not known, although Orthodox Jewish fundamentalists
believe the Bible says homosexuality is a sin.
Angelus said if a group that espouses homophobic doctrine comes to
the UConn campus, state-owned property, he would fight to have that
Hillside plans to discuss trip to Baltimore
February 04, 2000
By Brenda Marks
© 2000 Republican-American
WATERBURY If the University of Connecticut branch moves
downtown, Hillside neighbors want a replacement tenant to revitalize
They want the campus, including the library and the Benedict Miller
house, to be accessible to the public, to stay part of the community.
A proposal to fill the campus with a Jewish Orthodox school has
received mixed reviews from Hillside residents.
Last week several of them visited Baltimore's northwest region. The
Waterbury homeowners were on an informational mission to see how a
strong Jewish community there roughly 80 percent of the residents
in a two-town area are Jewish has affected that section of
Maryland. There are about 100,000 Jewish people in metropolitan
Baltimore. Waterbury citizens found positive and negative aspects.
Will the school bring enough people? Would a sizable Jewish
Orthodox population change the make up of Hillside? Have enough
options been considered for a UConn replacement?
On the positive side, a Jewish school typically lures young
families who buy homes and have on average four or five children. In
Maryland Ner Israel Rabbinical College and other Jewish schools have
also attracted businesses. They have stabilized neighborhoods, kept
them safe, said Neil Rubin, senior editor of the Jewish Times.
Marianne Vandenburgh, owner of the House on the Hill Bed &
Breakfast in Waterbury, visited Ner Israel and the Jewish community
"I was impressed seeing the students learning," she said.
"They really stress education. But I'm still not sure how seeing
this translates to Waterbury. I loved seeing the community. But I
think in the end the separateness impresses me the most."
Vandenburgh grew up outside Salem, Ohio. There were Mennonites,
Amish and Quakers.
"I don't feel we were as separate in Ohio as in
Baltimore," she said.
Vandenburgh and two other Hillside neighbors, Thomas Nalband and
Andrea Pape, production director of The Waterbury Republican-American,
were part of a group to visit Baltimore. Findings from the trip will
be shared with the Hillside Historic District Neighborhood Association
Tuesday night, 6:30 p.m. at the UConn library.
The association's membership will ultimately direct whether or not
to back the Jewish school proposal, Nalband said.
"I thought it was a great concept and a credit to any
community it moves to," he said of the Jewish school proposal.
"I don't believe it would have an adverse effect on Hillside. I
don't believe when they move here they will concentrate their
residences just in Hillside. They'll buy homes in Overlook, Crownbrook,
other neighborhoods. The center of their life is their
Pape said she was pleased that Jewish Orthodox families stress
Yet, there could be drawbacks, she said. Losing use of the UConn
campus, changing the neighborhood so much that it loses its cultural
diversity, caused her some doubt.
"We are especially concerned with the loss of the campus for
public use," Pape said, "especially the Benedict Miller
House. What goes in the UConn campus has to mesh with the fabric of
Pape is a home owner and chairman of the Hillside association's
Bringing a yeshiva here is what Rabbi Judah Harris of Waterbury's
B'nai Shalom Synagogue aspires to do. Harris has been working with
Torah Umesorah, a Jewish umbrella organization for schools. The Jewish
groups hope to establish a Jewish Orthodox school on the UConn campus
if the university moves out.
The Jewish group would lease the campus and start with 10 families.
An agreement would stipulate that 100 families connected to the Jewish
school would have to move in within a seven-year period, said Gary
O'Connor, of Drubner, Hartley, O'Connor & Mengacci LLC, legal
counsel to the Naugatuck Valley Development Corp. The NVDC is charged
with trying to find a suitable tenant to take over UConn's existing
campus, should a $20 million new campus be built downtown. As part of
the contract, a Jewish Orthodox school would have to meet performance
standards, maintain the property, work with the Hillside neighborhood
association to figure out any additional terms needed, he said.
"We are doing so on the city's behalf so that if UConn moves
and property reverts to the city, city officials and citizens will
have viable alternative for the campus," said Michael O'Connor,
executive director of the NVDC.
He stressed other alternatives would also be considered if they are
viable. While a downtown campus proposal still has to be approved by
UConn's board of trustees, the Jewish group said they could open the
school as early as this fall in a temporary location.
"We believe the proposed Jewish school reaches many
objectives, especially by bringing in homeowners and families,"
Hillside is a culturally varied neighborhood. Blacks, Hispanics,
whites, and gays live side by side.
""We're extremely diverse," Pape said. "The
Jewish Orthodox are somewhat culturally isolated."
That may not be a problem, she said, but it is a consideration.
"On the plus side," she said, "there is an
enthusiasm there for educational excellence that they bring to the
community. And that bodes well."
In a Baltimore suburb, Ner Israel sits on 90 acres about two miles
from downtown Pikesville. The college is in a location similar to
Waterbury's Teikyo Post University in that it straddles the edges of
suburbia on one side, a busy urban center a few miles away. Ner Israel
is one of more than 65 Jewish day schools, high schools, colleges and
If the Jewish school is established in Waterbury, religious leaders
said it eventually would be expanded to include kindergarten through
Baltimore is a de facto segregated city based on race and
ethnicity. In the 1970s and 1980s white flight from the inner city to
the suburbs was a phenomenon, said Rubin.
Most of the region's 100,000 people in the Jewish community live in
the northwest section of Baltimore and its suburbs. The Jewish
community sits next to a black neighborhood that is filled with
blight, empty buildings, high crime.
"Obviously there are tensions there," Rubin said.
"There is a perceived lack of economic opportunity for blacks,
lack of good public education, which doesn't help matters. The Jews
have private schools. And a big fight is for vouchers at the state
Yet, there are joint efforts between Jews and blacks.
Blacks and Jews in Baltimore formed a dialogue group called, "BLEWS,"
which holds political forums, sponsors youth seminars, and doles out
scholarship money. Another group sends black and Jewish young people
on trips to Israel and Africa so they better understand each others'
cultures, Rubin said.
As the Jewish community has grown, surrounding neighborhoods have
been upgraded, he said. And that is what is hoped for in Waterbury,
regardless of what entity fills the UConn space.
"With a Jewish school you're going to have middle class flight
into this city," said Michael O'Connor. "And that is a key
factor. They will be working, paying taxes."
Plan lifts Waterbury's hopes
UConn, colleges could mean boom
January 17, 2000
By Brenda Marks
© 2000 Republican-American
WATERBURY For many college students here, getting a four-year
degree means commuting a half-hour outside Waterbury.
They already are used to sacrifice, juggling a job as well as
driving to a university in another city. That's why a proposal to
offer bachelor's degrees at the University of Connecticut's Waterbury
campus and allow other state colleges such as Southern Connecticut
State University to offer four-year degrees in Waterbury has given
hope to some scholars and the business community.
Octavio Goncalves of Naugatuck, a junior at Southern, said if a
nursing degree were offered in Waterbury, he'd take advantage of it.
After all, he's spending five hours or more each week driving to and
from college in New Haven. Nursing is one of three four-year degrees
Southern wants to offer in Waterbury.
"For me that would be a 10 minute drive one way vs. a 40
minute drive," Goncalves said. "Without a doubt, that alone
would sway me because driving time really adds up. Being able to take
classes in Waterbury and finish my degree there would be very
Goncalves' sentiment is echoed by the Waterbury business community.
A proposal includes building a new, $20 million UConn campus downtown
and offering undergraduate and master's degrees here.
James C. Smith, chairman and chief
executive officer of Webster Bank, said the expansion of college
programs especially business-oriented ones is key to economic
development. Smith is also co-chairman of Partnership 2000, an
economic development planning group.
Webster employs about 700 people in Greater Waterbury. About half
of those work in the city.
"As a growing financial services provider we have potential
for additional expansion in Waterbury in particular," Smith said.
"Having a first class education facility in Waterbury is
attractive to us as an employer. And it's a magnet for economic
Smith said a 1998 UConn survey showed more than half of those
surveyed expressed a demand for business courses. "If we respond
to the needs, that will generate a demand-driven curriculum,"
Smith said. "And we will be able to generate the kind of work
force that will lead us to economic prosperity.
"If you're not going to look at this, at what market needs and
demands, then you shouldn't bother moving the campus. But this is a
positive development, looking at the demand side so we make the state
and the city more competitive."
Smith stressed a regional campus in the city would draw young
people downtown and help create vibrancy.
While Waterbury's UConn branch currently offers a bachelor's degree
in general studies, another wave of programs is anticipated at the
school. An agreement last year allows Waterbury UConn to offer the
four-year degree in urban studies and master's level programs in
social work and business are in the works. The urban studies degree
was approved by the Board of Governors for Higher Education.
"We're bringing it up to speed so we can offer urban
studies," said Richard Veilleux, a UConn spokesman. "And
we're virtually certain we will be offering a bachelor's of business
within 18 months. That's going through approvals now. Once we get
consent, it takes time to get professors."
The Department of Higher Education is discussing the possibility of
offering a degree in business information systems at UConn, Veilleux
Some programs won't be offered until a new UConn campus is
constructed. Part of the UConn move hinges on finding a new tenant for
the school's current Hillside location. A Jewish school may be the new
And should UConn move downtown, the Connecticut State University
System would take advantage of the new educational facility, said
William Cibes, CSU chancellor. The CSU system includes Southern,
Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State
University and Western Connecticut State University. Permission for
the Connecticut State University System to use a new UConn campus
likely will be granted, Veilleux said.
Cibes said the colleges he oversees expect to offer courses in
business management and leadership, bachelors' degrees in nursing and
in criminal justice. Some courses could be offered as early as this
fall. He also stressed CSU would be allowed to use UConn's new campus
once it is built. And until that happens, CSU may use space at
Naugatuck Valley Community-Technical College.
Only upper-level, undergraduate classes would be offered by the CSU
schools so the four colleges it oversees do not compete with the
community college, Cibes said.
Still, UConn and CSU compete for students.
Currently there are about 2,806 CSU students from Waterbury and 11
towns nearby. The Waterbury UConn branch had 505 students enrolled
this past fall.
"There is justification on our offering our courses, and UConn
offering theirs," Cibes said. "We are confident in our
ability to compete. We just wanted to level the playing field. We feel
we can be demand responsive. But using that new center was part of our
discussions from the beginning. We just don't want to duplicate
Francis Brennan, interim director of Waterbury UConn said sharing
space with CSU would have its benefits. "Half a dozen years ago
we were going to close," he said. "Now they can make it
available to more than one school. That's to the good of the
Cibes said once Gov. John G. Rowland submits his budget to the
general assembly, plans will be clearer. After all, programs and new
construction hinge on funding.
James F. Abromaitis, a UConn Board of Trustees member and
commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community
Development, agrees that Waterbury needs higher education with a
business focus. "What we want offered in Waterbury is a strong
business emphasis," he said.
Abromaitis has talked with Waterbury business people, asked them
what they would like to see offered here, he said. After all, many of
their employees would likely take advantage of an expanded degree
"If you look at business offerings, there are a thousand
different ones you could put on the table," Abromaitis said.
"Bachelor's degrees in business could be in a number of
disciplines. Those are still being worked out."
UConn's city neighbors protest $20M move
If you go
October 25, 1999
By Robyn Adams
© 1999 Republican-American
The Hillside Historic District Neighborhood Association will hold a
candlelight vigil Tuesday from 7-9 p.m. at the Waterbury branch of the
University of Connecticut, 32 Hillside Ave., to protest a proposal to
move the campus to downtown.
WATERBURY Instead of spending $20 million to move the Waterbury
branch of University of Connecticut three blocks to downtown,
residents of the Hillside neighborhood said the state should use that
money to improve the existing campus.
Mayor Philip A. Giordano announced a few months ago that he was
exploring a proposal to move the UConn Waterbury branch downtown as
part of the downtown revitalization project. Gov. John G. Rowland,
born in Waterbury, supports the move.
Members of the Hillside Historic District Neighborhood Association
said no one told them about the proposal before they read about it in
the newspaper. They said the campus is the centerpiece of their
neighborhood and its existence stabilizes their section of town.
Giordano has suggested that a Jewish high school could occupy the
campus, bringing in families who might buy homes in the city to be
near the school. But residents say they have heard no firm plans from
any Jewish organization to establish a school.
The neighborhood group will sponsor a candlelight vigil from 7 to 9
p.m. Tuesday to let city and state officials know they want the campus
to stay where it is. They're inviting prospective students and their
parents, alumni, citizens, and representatives from social and civic
clubs, to attend.
The group will mark its vigil with candles, free cider and
Robert Signor, a Hillside Avenue resident, said one of the reasons
he moved from Meriden to the Hillside neighborhood three years ago was
because of the campus' beautiful surroundings, particularly the
historic Benedict Miller House, and other magnificent buildings used
as administrative offices.
Students attend a two-year program at the Waterbury campus before
going to the main branch in Storrs to complete their education. A
four-year program for the branch is in the works.
Signor said city officials should argue for expansion of the
college to make sure the state offers four-year degrees so students
wouldn't have to transfer.
"And I don't understand wanting to move it to downtown, when
it is already downtown," Signor said. "Why spend millions to
move it two or three blocks."
The neighborhood association will mark its vigil with candles, free
cider and donuts.
Neighbors outraged' by plan to move UConn
Hillside neighborhood group vows to take its fight to the Capitol
Thursday, July 08, 1999
By Robyn Adams and Maura Kelly
© 1999 Republican-American
WATERBURY The Hillside Historic District Neighborhood
Association is bracing for a battle with elected officials.
At a meeting Tuesday, the neighborhood association voted
unanimously to "vehemently oppose" a state plan to move the
University of Connecticut branch from its neighborhood, said Eleanor
Herbst, co-president of the association.
"The general tone of the meeting was that the neighborhood is
outraged," said Tom Nalband, the recording secretary. "The
very idea of removing the university from its present location has
gotten everyone extraordinarily upset."
Gov. John G. Rowland and Mayor Philip A. Giordano proposed moving
the campus out of the historic Hillside neighborhood to downtown as
part of the city's multi-million dollar plan to redevelop downtown and
get more shoppers into the stores.
The group would not oppose expanding the campus downtown, such as
by moving UConn classes now offered at the Naugatuck Valley
Community-Technical College campus on Chase Parkway, Herbst said. The
association wants the existing school buildings and services to keep
operating in their neighborhood.
"The neighborhood has always supported the UConn campus. We've
always been involved in the goings-on there. It's something that is a
wonderful part of the neighborhood," Herbst said. "We don't
see a reason to move it downtown."
The association's executive board will meet with Giordano today at
9:30 a.m. to better understand his position, Nalband said.
"We are very disappointed with the mayor," Nalband said.
The group also expressed disappointment over a lack of response
from the governor.
The group has asked several times to meet with the governor, who
vowed residents would have a say in what would replace UConn on that
Dean Pagani, a spokesman for Rowland, said Wednesday the governor
has not met with the group yet because of scheduling problems. Rowland
will be on vacation next week, so the earliest he could meet with the
group would be the week of July 19.
"I'm sure the governor at some point is going to meet with the
Hillside neighborhood group. He hasn't been able to fit it into his
schedule yet. He has said the neighborhoods will be involved, and I am
sure that they will be," Pagani said.
Moving the campus downtown would mean the neighborhood would lose
student and faculty traffic, Herbst said.
"We're going to do everything possible to bring attention to
the problem and to have people understand this is not the best thing
for Waterbury," Herbst said. "The downtown can be used in
Nalband said within a week, the association will issue a position
paper, outlining for legislators reasons why they oppose the move, as
well as gathering signatures on petitions.
"This battle will be fought on Hillside Avenue, Grand Street
and Capitol Avenue (in Hartford)," Nalband said.
Rowland supports moving the campus downtown, Pagani said, but will
try to build a consensus before making a final decision.
"Of course, he'll take (the neighborhood's) concerns into
consideration," Pagani said. "This is not a time-sensitive
situation. The decision hasn't even been made to go forward."
Nalband said the campus' beauty is one of the reasons why people
are buying stately homes in the historic neighborhood and spending
tens of thousands of dollars renovating them. He also pointed to the
$600,000 facelift currently going on at the Benedict Miller House,
used by the school for administrative offices.
"We have this tremendous financial interest in just the
physical buildings, so the idea of abandoning that, with this nebulous
idea of putting it downtown, is a total waste of taxpayers'
money," Nalband said. "Don't sell our neighborhood out on
some vague idea of maybe this will save the East Main Street
Nalband said if the campus were moved downtown, the association has
been told the state would turn the property over to the city, which
caused more concern among Hillside residents.
"We are very concerned about the city's ability to maintain
and operate it. Just look at the parks; they can't keep them together.
So, how can they keep the entire university campus together?"
Editorial Republican American
Thursday, June 17, 1999
Hillside Historic District Neighborhood Association members are
outraged. Even as they were striving to invigorate their section of
Waterbury around the potentially glorious centerpiece of the
University of Connecticut campus, Gov. John G. Rowland was engaged in
a secret plan to move the campus downtown. The plot undoubtedly would
still be unfolding behind closed doors if Mayor Philip A. Giordano
hadn't let the cat out of the bag at a Greater Waterbury Chamber of
Commerce breakfast last month.
But the real outrage here is bigger than the Hillside neighbors'
justifiable grievance against the governor. It's the appropriation of
large swatches of Waterbury by government agencies.
The Rowland Government Center is nearing completion on the Green.
The hundreds of employees who will work there undoubtedly will
energize restaurants, bars and some retail businesses downtown. But
nobody seems to have questioned why this facility needed to be built
on some of the city's priciest real estate, voiding the site's
potential to shoulder a princely property-tax burden.
- If the UConn plan goes through as outlined, the site would
remain tax-exempt because it would house a religious school. But
the conversion would not be a wash to taxpayers; UConn would move
to a site now in private, taxpaying hands. Tax payments from this
valuable downtown real estate, as well as from any property taken
over for a new cultural arts magnet high school, would cease. The
Palace Theater would end up in the quasi-governmental Naugatuck
Valley Development Corp., the city's economic-development agency,
possibly as soon as Friday, effectively if not literally
disregarding voters' wishes as expressed in a 1994 referendum.
- The Waterbury Housing Authority is considering buying another
Errichetti housing development, the 104-unit Village Green complex
in the East End. In addition to removing the property from the tax
rolls, this move would further hamper neighborhood-revitalization
efforts by forcing private landlords to compete with a
taxpayer-funded agency. The unintended consequences of
housing-authority growth include segregation of low-income
tenants, abandonment of marginal properties, and deterioration of
units whose owners can't afford to maintain them in an environment
of artificially low rents and unfair competition from the public
For downtown, Gov. Rowland envisions spending millions on land
acquisition, and Village Green would cost the city millions more.
Obviously, such purchases are better in the short term than
abandonment, neglect and tax delinquency. But government
intervention of this magnitude also drives the private sector out
of the market and shifts the burden for buying and maintaining
public property to a shrinking population of property owners.
Moreover, as surely as nature abhors a vacuum, bureaucracy
abhors new public facilities that are not filled to bursting with
By protesting the possible UConn move, Hillside neighbors have
trained a spotlight on local and state government's headlong quest
for control of some of the most valuable sites in the city. Any
one of these proposals might seem to be the best option available
today, but as a group, they serve chiefly as an obstacle to
critically needed private investment in the city's prime
Hillsiders angered by UConn plan
Neighborhood association believes it should have been part of
Tuesday, June 8, 1999
By Terry Corcoran
© 1999 Republican-American
WATERBURY When they learned recently the state is considering a
plan to move the city's branch of UConn from their neighborhood to
downtown, members of the Hillside Historic District Neighborhood
Association couldn't help but feel the rug had been pulled out from
After all, residents had worked hard to establish a strategic plan
for their Neighborhood Revitalization Zone. The plan is designed to
give a neighborhood self-determination in how it wants to grow.
Monday night, several members of the Hillside NRZ appeared before
the Board of Aldermen to express their frustration and displeasure in
learning the state, which four years ago passed legislation
establishing the zones, was now seemingly ignoring the Hillside NRZ
"We're not here in discussion of one side or the other of this
proposal," said Hillside resident Andrea Pape. "We're here
mostly because of our incredible discouragement of not being included
in this process and discussion."
Joining Pape at the meeting were Hillside neighbors David and
Shirley Walford and Joe Reynolds.
Two weeks ago, at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Mayor Philip A.
Giordano mentioned the plan to move the UConn branch from Hillside to
downtown. The Republican-American learned the proposal may involve
bringing a school from New York to the UConn facility. But residents
were upset to learn plans were in the works when they had not been
Aldermen responded Monday by passing a resolution that calls for
copies of the various NRZ strategic plans to be provided to the state
budget office, Waterbury's state lawmakers and local commissions and
"That way, if someone has a proposal for a specific
neighborhood that has a Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, they can use
the strategic plan as a reference to ensure that what's being proposed
doesn't conflict with the plan," said Alderman Lisa Mason, who
authored the resolution.
In 1995, the state Legislature passed into law the Neighborhood
Revitalization Zone, which allows municipalities to establish zones
where there is a significant number of deteriorated properties that
have been foreclosed upon, abandoned or pose a public safety hazard.
The plan is drafted by stakeholders who are defined as churchgoers,
tenants, property owners and business owners.
The Neighborhood Revitalization Zone committee adopts bylaws, which
include a process for consensus and decision-making.
In a letter to the Board of Aldermen, Hillside NRZ Committee
members and residents recalled how they had labored for four years on
their strategic plan.
"We were cautious in initiating the process, as we were leery
of being lured into a time-consuming effort, which was likely to be
ignored in the long run," the residents wrote.
But they noted aldermen, the mayor and state lawmakers assured
neighbors repeatedly they "had every intention of allowing us
self-determination for our neighborhood."
But now, they said, it appears their fears were founded in truth.
"You were all very supportive of our efforts, and now, this
process is invalidating that support and our efforts," the letter
Mason and fellow Republican Alderman Edwin Rodriguez said they are
hopeful filing copies of Neighborhood Revitalization Zone strategic
plans with various state and city agencies will avoid future
situations like what happened in Hillside.
Meanwhile, Hillside residents, while not commenting on the pros or
cons of the UConn move, have a bad taste in their mouths.
"This plan may be the best thing that could happen to our
neighborhood and our city," they wrote.
"However, we are entitled to participate in the planning
phases and discussions, as we have a recognized NRZ. This blind
ignorance of that fact is inexcusable."
MEETING with B'Nai Shalom:
Attending - Roland and the Rabbi from B'Nai Shalom Synagogue on Roseland Avenue, Andy
Michaud, Ron Capaldo of Overlook, Kathy McNamera of Bunker Hill and the Neighborhood
Counsel, and Joe Reynolds for Hillside.
Andy Michaud had been asked by Roland and the Rabbi to get such a meeting together
as Andy lives next door to the Rabbi.
Roland explained the background of developing a Magnet Jewish High School and a grammar
school to lower the currently aging religious population of the congregation and save it
To this end, they have done much work in conjunction with the federal Jewish organization
in developing a school plan.
In past recent months, they have been out looking at many State and City owned facilities
throughout the city for a possible school home.
Roland has spoken with Overlook as the Synagogue is located in overlook, and for Overlook
the prospect of new residents seeking multi bedroom homes in the area is needed.
Overlook was not aware that the UConn campus was the possible home until the Giordano
revelation in the paper a couple of weeks ago.
Both Roland and the Rabbi stated that they were unaware of the Hillside NRZ and that the
UConn possibility only emerged a few weeks ago.
Synagogue representatives indicated further that to purchase the UConn property would not
be feasible due to the bidding processes required and that the more probable scenario
would be for the State to give the campus to the City and the City would Lease portions of
it to the Synagogue for the school, leasing more and more of it until the school could be
at full capacity. This would be in line with some of Giordano's comments that the
campus might possible be used for Department of Education facilities if UConn moves out.
Joe Reynolds indicated city ownership of the property is not highly desirable, as the City
has little inclination or ability to maintain anything it owns and occupies now.
Joe Reynolds further explained that the basis of the Hillside formal opposition is not the
school as such, but very specific violations of the NRZ Process by the State of
Connecticut and the City of Waterbury.
A secondary concern of Hillside is the loss of the stature inherent with UConn being a
central focus, and a genuine concern UConn could be lost to the city altogether in a
planning and relocation process which will extend beyond the reign of this Governor.
Ron Capaldo of Overlook expressed great support for this project as Overlook stands to
gain the most in property sales and values. Ron did express the concerns of the NRZ
Process as a citywide concern and also expressed concern of the possibility of loosing
UConn altogether is UConn should wind up in temporary classrooms for the next 10 or 20
Kathy McNamera supported the project as being beneficial for the city as a whole and is
expected to report such back to the Neighborhood Counsel next meeting.
The representatives of B'Nai Shalom expressed great interest in meeting with Hillside as
soon as possible, understanding the NRZ issues will continue to be resolved.
Meeting lasted about 1 hour and those in attendance wished a camera was available to
capture Andy Michaud, tray in hand, serving coffee. :)
Bonding plan offers projects to Waterbury
Lawmakers close to approving bill
Wednesday, June 9, 1999
By Maura Kelly
© 1999 Republican-American
HARTFORD Lawmakers early today were putting the final touches
on a huge bond package that includes letting the state borrow $6
million for planning to move the University of Connecticut's Waterbury
campus to a downtown location.
The bill also lets the state borrow millions for other projects in
Connecticut and calls for borrowing $174 million for a downtown
Hartford revitalization project. And it puts millions into a special
fund for urban projects, one of which could be to spend $3 million for
a cancer center in Waterbury.
But the package was threatened by lawmakers who wanted to attach an
amendment to repeal $28 million in special state financing for a
proposed mall in New Haven. Last year, the state approved that money
for the mall. Opponents want lawmakers to repeal the money because
they said a state-subsidized mall in New Haven would hurt ones in
Meriden, Milford and Trumbull.
Their amendment, as well as last-minute negotiations, held up
debate on the bond package, which must be approved by the
Legislature's adjournment at midnight tonight. Lawmakers were meeting
in private caucuses early today on the bond package.
By 1 a.m., the Senate was about to debate the bill. That chamber
Please turn to 4A, BOND#ESUB#
in line for projects#ESUB#
Continued from Page One
on it first before the measure goes to the House. While the Senate
prepared to debate the package, the House was discussing a measure
dealing with several managed health-care issues, including privacy of
patient records and mandating insurance companies to cover medicine
for Lime disease and diabetes.
Even if the Senate did act on the bond package quickly, it appeared
unlikely that the House would take it up in the wee hours. It would
probably wait until later today to take it up.
The $6 million earmarked for the planning process to move the
University of Connecticut's Waterbury campus from its Hillside
neighborhood to downtown Waterbury would also be used for design of a
new campus and potential site acquisition, state officials said. But
they stressed this is just the beginning of the potential project.
"This is the opportunity in this 12-month period to reserve
something, if, in fact, the project is appropriate and that's a
big if,'" said Rep. Joan Hartley, D-73rd District, whose
district includes the Hillside area where the UConn branch is located.
Gov. John G. Rowland, who grew up near the UConn branch, has said
he wants to get input from the Hillside and Overlook neighborhoods
before deciding if the branch should move downtown.
A potential site could be on East Main Street, across from the
Palace Theater. Rowland grew up in the Overlook neighborhood, which
would be affected by any change to the campus. His parents still live
in the neighborhood.
City officials are trying to bring a New York-based school for
Jewish boys to the site so that if UConn should move, no empty
buildings are left in the neighborhood.
The plan to move UConn drew the ire of the Hillside and Overlook
communities, who want to be involved in any decision on the school.
The Hillside Neighborhood Revitalization Zone passed a plan last year
that relies on the school staying where it is. It calls for expanding
the campus to vacant buildings or empty lots on Prospect, Linden and
Grove streets in Waterbury.
Rep. Michael Jarjura, D-74th District, said the money in the bond
package is "just a start" to get the project under way.
"It's obviously a good first step," he said. "We're
just putting things in place. But we're not moving forward until we
consult with the people from the Hillside area and other citizens of
Waterbury." Another part of the bond package is a pool of money
intended for urban projects. The money is not earmarked for specific
projects, but Marc Ryan, secretary of the state Office of Policy and
Management, said there has been discussion that $3 million from the
fund could be used for a cancer center to be built in Waterbury. St.
Mary's Hospital and Waterbury Hospital are working jointly on building
a cancer center but have not found a location . The site would be
restricted to Waterbury if these state funds were used, Ryan said.
"All the big cities have one (a cancer center) and we're the
only one that doesn't," said Sen. Thomas F. "Tim" Upson,
R-Waterbury, who favors giving some state money for the project.
The state bond package also authorizes up to $174 million in
bonding for Adriaen's Landing, a $1 billion downtown revitalization
project along Hartford's riverfront that includes a domed stadium for
the University of Connecticut football team and a convention center.
But lawmakers can reject that money later if they do not like a plan
for using it.
"There is a strong desire to make sure that, when the money
goes out the door, (lawmakers) see the plan, hold a public hearing and
have the ability to stop it, if necessary," said Rep. Brian
Flaherty, R-Watertown. "This creates a slower process and one
that pays a little more attention to details than the Patriots (deal
to move to Connecticut)." On top of the $174 million, lawmakers
voted last week to spend $100 million of this year's state surplus for
That surplus money had been earmarked as a downpayment on a stadium
for the New England Patriots. The stadium would have been part of the
Adriaen's Landing deal, but the team decided last month not to move to
Hartford. The money was re-allocated because of the failed deal.
Before the New England Patriots ended their deal to move to
Connecticut, lawmakers had expected to bond $274 million for the
stadium. This bond package would authorize $174 million of that for
Adriaen's Landing instead. That money would be in addition to the $155
million approved last year for downtown Hartford revitalization. None
of the state money would be spent on the project until private
investors put forward $210 million for a retail complex and a hotel.
Last week, Speaker of the House Moira Lyons, D-Stamford, wanted
more details on how Adriaen's Landing would be financed and how much
revenue it would generate for the state in the future.
She wanted to vote on the funding in a special session later this
month or summer, after more details are worked out. Last week, she
decided that the Legislature would hold a vote on the financing before
it adjourns today.
Once the plan for the project is in place, the Appropriations and
Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees will have 60 days to hold a
public hearing on the project. After that, the Legislature could meet
in special session to reject the $174 million in bonding for Adriaen's
Landing, if lawmakers wanted. If they like the plan, lawmakers would
not have to meet in special session to approve the money again.
Hillside group to have a say
Governor to first seek input on UConn plan
Saturday, May 29, 1999
By Maura Kelly
© 1999 Republican-American
HARTFORD A plan to move UConn's Waterbury campus downtown will
not go forward without the input of neighborhood groups, Gov. John G.
Rowland, a Waterbury native who grew up not far from the University
of Connecticut campus, tried to defuse the ire of residents who lashed
out at Waterbury Mayor Philip A. Giordano after he mentioned the
proposal at a public function earlier this week.
The idea is to move UConn's campus downtown near a magnet school
for the arts and a revived Palace Theater, two other plans in the
works. All three proposals are part of an entire revamping of
Members of neighborhood groups said moving the campus would deflate
the momentum built by the Hillside Historic District, where the campus
is located, and nearby areas with revitalization plans hinged on UConn.
Some neighborhood leaders likened Giordano's announcement to a slap in
the face of a neighborhood that has supported the branch for more than
20 years and has pushed for it to offer four-year degrees.
Rowland said the neighborhoods will be included in discussions
about the project, which he supports.
"One of my only claims to fame is that I work with
neighborhood groups and I work with people before we make decisions,
to try to get input. That's important in this process," Rowland
said. "If we were going to do this, the obvious questions that
have to be answered (are) what would we do with the existing facility,
does it make sense, can we bring everybody in and talk.
"I've done it in New Britain, I've done it in Hartford, I've
done it in Bridgeport, I've done it in New Haven. That's a better
approach than saying, Oh, by the way, we're moving it and tough
luck, see ya later,'" said Rowland, who grew up in Overlook, a
section of the city adjoining Hillside. His parents still live there.
Rowland said he will likely talk to neighborhood groups about the
plan after June 9, when the legislative session ends.
Giordano said he has not been ignoring neighborhood groups or the
needs of the neighborhoods, especially Hillside, in discussions of
moving the campus. He has been working with the National Jewish
Federation on a proposal to have the group locate a high school for
Jewish boys on the site of the campus, so that the Hillside
neighborhood is not left with empty buildings if UConn relocates.
"A major contingency in even thinking about relocating UConn
is making sure Hillside is all set first," Giordano said.
"That was discussed from Day 1."
Moving a school for Jewish students to the campus, if UConn moves,
would mean 150 Jewish families would move into the neighborhood,
Giordano said. National Jewish Federation officials could not be
reached for comment. Having such a school in the neighborhood might
help it, Giordano said, because new residents would begin to renovate
homes that are now empty or in need of repair.
"People aren't buying these houses and they don't have pride
in these houses," Giordano said. "If I can fill that
neighborhood with people who would have pride in their houses, I think
the neighborhood (residents) would do cartwheels."
But Shep Wild, who lives next to the UConn campus on Hillside
Avenue, said people have been renovating their homes in the
neighborhood and they do take pride in their work.
"People are doing this because this neighborhood is anchored
by the university," Wild said, adding that the school should
remain where it is.
Giordano mentioned the plan to move the campus before about 100
people at the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce's municipal
breakfast, and he said that Rowland would make an announcement of the
project in coming weeks. But Rowland said he had no announcement
"We're looking at the possibility of doing it and the mayor's
jumped a little bit ahead of the gun here," Rowland said. "I
think we have a little bit of money (in the proposed state budget) for
planning and design, study work, but there's no specific plan
Rowland wants to put between $5 million and $6 million in the first
year of the state's proposed biennial budget as a planning grant for a
proposed cultural arts magnet school for downtown and for moving the
campus downtown. Also, he wants that first year to include $3 million
for land acquisition. The proposed cultural arts magnet school was
announced earlier this month and might be located near the Palace
In the state's 2000-2001 budget, full funding for the magnet school
and the downtown UConn campus would be included, Rowland's budget
chief Marc Ryan said.
The downtown campus project is expected to cost between $15 million
and $20 million and the proposed magnet school is expected to cost
between $20 million and $25 million, Ryan said.
Ryan, Rowland and legislative leaders are hammering out details of
the budget proposal now, but Rowland said Giordano's public mention of
the plan would not hurt Rowland's chances of getting the planning
money and other funding in the budget.
"I work very closely with legislative leaders on behalf of our
city," Rowland said. Those leaders could not be reached for
comment Friday because they were in budget negotiations.
David Walford, vice president of the Hillside Historic District,
said talking with Rowland about the deal would help. He thinks the
school should remain at its Hillside campus, and that the Hillside
Neighborhood Revitalization Zone's plan calls for expanding the
campus. The plan, which the group worked on for four years, was
approved last year. Part of it calls for expanding the UConn campus to
some vacant buildings or empty lots on Prospect, Linden and Grove
streets, he said.
"We had foreseen that whole area becoming incorporated into
the UConn campus," Walford said. "To go through all this
effort and work and have it yanked from underneath us is a bit
"We spent an awful lot of time talking about our neighborhood
and what might be good to go where and what might enhance the whole
city," Wild said. "When you do four years of planning ...
then when you get told this is what's going to happen to you, that
isn't very encouraging. We have said what we want to happen in this
neighborhood and this (moving the school) isn't it."
Wild maintains that the school and its campus has enough capacity
to expand to a four-year institution without additional construction
or a new campus downtown.
"We don't need to waste $15 million or $20 million. We already
have a facility equipped for it, renovated at taxpayers'
expense," he said.
Overlook Community Club President Ron Capaldo said the school
should remain where it is.
"To most of us, it (plans to move the school) came as a
complete surprise," Capaldo said. "I think it would do more
harm than positive. It creates a major hole in the Hillside area and
that would have a huge effect on Overlook as well. UConn can be a real
building block to revitalizing the area."
Capaldo was glad that Rowland wants to talk to neighborhood groups,
noting Rowland's connection to the neighborhood.
Rowland said: "That's my neighborhood. I know it like the back
of my hand. We've always had a problem there (at UConn) with parking.
We've always had a problem there with safety. Maybe we could even make
it better. Once the neighborhood groups see what some of the plans
might be, they might think it's even better."
Move may be better for UConn Hillside neighbors oppose new
downtown facility By Maura Kelly and Terry Corcoran
Thursday, May 27, 1999
© 1999 Republican-American
WATERBURY Discussions are under way to move Waterbury's
University of Connecticut campus from the Hillside neighborhood to
downtown as part of an overall downtown revitalization project, Mayor
Philip A. Giordano said Wednesday.
Giordano mentioned the plan before about 100 people at the Greater
Waterbury Chamber of Commerce's municipal breakfast.
Although Giordano said Wednesday that Gov. John G. Rowland, a city
native, would make a formal announcement of the move in the coming
weeks, Rowland said two weeks ago that he had no immediate plans to
come to Waterbury to make any such announcement. Rowland has talked
about moving UConn's campus downtown since he won re-election to a
second term last November. But no specific plan has been released.
On Wednesday, the governor's spokesman, Dean Pagani, said Rowland
still wants the campus to move downtown. However, Pagani said Rowland
is not working on the details of the plan. He has left that to his
budget officials and said no announcement is forthcoming.
Giordano said the idea of moving UConn downtown is just one aspect
of a strategy to draw more people into downtown to revitalize the
district and provide more customers for businesses. Other parts of the
plan in- clude obtaining the closed Palace Theater on East Main Street
and building a regional magnet school on East Main Street near the
theater. Plans for the magnet school were announced last month.
Giordano said the new UConn branch is projected to be a four-year
institution that could offer a master's program with an emphasis on
theater arts. The magnet school and the university could use the
theater for plays and classes. Currently, Waterbury-UConn is a
Last week, Giordano announced that the city and the owner of the
Palace Theater are close to an agreement where Waterbury's economic
development agency would sign an option to buy the historic, stately
theater. Ultimately, the idea is to turn the theater over to a
non-profit entity, he said.
Pagani, the governor's spokesman, said it's too early to know where
the campus would be located or if businesses would have to leave to
make room for it.
"All the governor is doing is supporting the campus moving
downtown. That's about the extent of the answers we have right
now," Pagani said.
News of the possible UConn move drew an immediate, angry response
from Hillside residents, who likened it to a slap in the face of a
neighborhood that has supported the branch for more than 20 years and
has pushed for it to offer four-year degrees.
"I think it's a crazy idea," said Shep Wild of the
Hillside Neighborhood Association. "We have a fully configured
campus right here on Hillside Avenue that is dramatically
underutilized. For at least 20 years, we've done everything we can to
support a campus here. Perhaps the people who are in a rush to do
something for downtown don't understand that UConn anchors our
neighborhood. For those who may not understand it, we are exactly two
blocks from the Green. We are downtown."
"The Hillside neighborhood is going to be very displeased with
the proposal because we have put so much effort into trying to make
the Hillside campus worthwhile," resident David Walford said.
"To take the university out of neighborhood now with all work we
have done to support it will be a major letdown."
Hillside residents also were upset that they weren't consulted on
the possible move. Wild said the mayor spoke recently to residents
about the move at a dinner meeting.
"We told him we were inalterably opposed to moving UConn,"
Wild said. "It wasn't as if they don't know how we feel."
Hillside residents also are wondering who their new neighbors would
be if the UConn branch moves downtown. Giordano said that among the
possibilities are moving the city's Board of Education offices or
moving the school system's school-readiness programs to the campus.
There also was a third option he couldn't disclose.
That option could involve a New York-based group that has been
talking with city officials about opening a school for Jewish
students. That would bring about 300 families into the area, said Rep.
Michael Jarjura, D-74th District.
"I think it's very exciting," Jarjura said. "Having
that many families move in, that would take up a lot of the housing
stock in the area. That would help that Hillside community."
The families would likely move near the campus so children could
walk to the school, Jarjura said.
Moving UConn downtown would boost the area because more people
would be downtown to patronize area restaurants and shops, Jarjura
But if a school for Jewish students occupies the UConn campus, it
may not pay taxes on the property because it's a religious
organization. Furthermore, if the university moves downtown, along
with a magnet school, and if a non-profit entity runs the Palace
Theater, a considerable amount of commercial real estate could be
taken off city tax rolls.
Lisa M. Kolodziej, the Chamber's director of government and
economic affairs, said that because the UConn proposal is so new,
members have yet to discuss the possibility of a loss of commercial
property from tax rolls. Kolodziej said it's too early to comment.
Francis Brennan, director of Waterbury-UConn, said placing a
university downtown is a concept that was popular 60 years ago and is
now making a return.
"I think a new campus is good for the growth of Waterbury and
the future of all our citizens. It would be a tremendous catalyst for
all of Waterbury students not just the university students," he
said. "There's nothing wrong with renewing something that worked
well in history."
Brennan conceded that the plan must include finding a proper tenant
for the Hillside campus.
"That should have equal weight in the plan," he said.
Moving schools to downtown areas has proven successful, Pagani
said, pointing to UConn's decision to move its Stamford campus to a
downtown spot about three years ago. Also, the state recently
announced plans to move the Capital Community-Technical College in
Hartford to a downtown location, Pagani said.
"It's revitalizing to have a college campus in the downtown
area. It puts more feet on the street. It brings young people into the
city. It spawns businesses that want to cater to students,"
Pagani said. "The governor has made clear that his agenda is to
do whatever he can to revitalized the cities of Connecticut. He thinks
this would help Waterbury."
Marc Ryan, Rowland's budget director, said he has not talked about
the plan yet with legislative leaders.
"We haven't reached the bonding package yet," he said.
The bonding package is the place in the state budget where state
officials borrow money to pay for large capital projects. Budget
negotiations were under way Wednesday, and Ryan said he could not
In the state's 1999-2000 budget, which must be approved by June 9,
Rowland wants to include $5 million to $6 million as a planning grant
for the proposed cultural arts magnet school and to move UConn
downtown, Ryan said.
Also, the first year of the state budget would include $3 million
for land acquisition and $6 million for planning for both projects, he
In the state's 2000-2001 budget, full funding for the magnet school
and the downtown UConn campus would be included.
The downtown campus project is expected to cost between $15 million
and $20 million and the proposed magnet school is expected to cost
between $20 million to $25 million.
Legislative leaders and Rowland's budget officials have been
negotiating the budget for weeks. They expect to vote on a final
tax-and-spend package next week.