News from Friends of Kensington Playground

Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Our fight to save Dwight’s only public playground continues. We have two updates to share:

  1. Failure to inform the Dwight community of a project change: The Community Builders (TCB) has asked City for permission to separate the Kensington Square Phase II project into two separate projects, so that TCB can proceed with renovating existing units while the lawsuit holds up the new construction on Kensington Playground. We, and others, have been asked to submit comments on the proposed project split. Once again, the City has not created a public process so citizens can understand the implications and express an opinion. If the project is split, will TCB have to start over to get all approvals for the new construction? It is hard to finance a low-income housing project of just 15 units. Will the city require proof of financing before it commits to giving Kensington Playground to TCB? FOKP has asked the City to provide answers to these and other questions in a public manner, so that all residents have a chance to weigh in on this proposed change that affects our lives and community. You can read the City’s letter, as well as our response, on our website. We support affordable housing–just not on our park.
  2. Fall/Halloween Event in KP: We will be hosting a Fall/ Halloween festival in Kensington Playground on Saturday, October 30, 1-4 p.m. Details are still being planned, but it is sure to be fun–and ghoulish. Please check out the events section of our website for more information.

‘Thank you’ to those of you who have donated to our campaign. The lawyers continue to file procedural motions. Our lawsuit continues. The next court date has not been set. As the legal activity continues, so do our legal bills. We would be grateful for contributions in any amount. To get involved, donate, and sign our petition, please visit our website: KensingtonPlayground.org

Don’t let the City take this playground for $1 with an illegal process. Require our city, state and federal governments to follow the law.

News from Friends of Kensington Playground

Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

We continue our fight to save Kensington Playground, the only public playground in Dwight. Thank you to those of you who have donated to our campaign. Our lawsuit continues. The next court date has not been set. As the legal activity continues, so do our legal bills.

Playground Proposal: On July 21, 2021 Friends of Kensington Playground asked the New Haven Board of Park Com-missioners to adopt a policy to “never give up the only public park in a neighborhood, and to always have at least one playground per neighborhood with a playscape and splash pad or water element.” They tabled the proposal, saying they would talk about it. Westville/West Hills, Fair Haven, Beaver Hills, and Downtown Community Manage-ment Teams have endorsed this position and sent letters to city officials. (Thank you!) Help us get on the agenda for your Management Team this fall.

Friends of Kensington Playground has created a timeline of key decisions made in the sale of Kensington Playground. It shows how there was only one meeting where public comment was allowed, and how the Board of Alders approved the sale despite tremendous opposition to it by residents. We have created posters to share how this undemocratic decision was made, and placed them in the park and on our website. Let us know your ideas about where else this information can be displayed.

Protecting Dwight’s only playground from sale and development is costly, even though we have done as much of the work as possible ourselves. Please be as generous as you can. Don’t let the City take this playground for $1 with an illegal process. Take a stand for democracy. Fight environmental injustice. Require our city, state and federal governments to follow the law. To get involved, donate, and sign our petition, please visit our website: KensingtonPlayground.org.

[Also see: ctmirror.org/ct-viewpoints/Kensington-playground-dwights-irreplaceable-greenspace-jane/#]

The Friends of Kensington Playground May Update

by Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Taking the Dwight neighborhood’s only public playground for housing, when there are other building sites available, amounts to environmental injustice. Our efforts to save Kensington Playground from development continue.

Friends of Kensington Playground lawsuit in State court: no updates. We are waiting to hear if the City of New Haven’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit (on the grounds of lack of standing) is granted.

The City of New Haven posted a legal notice in the New Haven Register on 4/18/21:

  • Notice of Intent to Request Release of Funds: $250,000 from Housing and Urban Development HOME funds to The Community Builders for both renovation of existing units as well as the new construction on Kensington Playground.
  • Finding of No Significant Impact: Development of Kensington Playground will have no significant impact on surrounding human environment, and an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is not required. We have 15 days to appeal this.

Friends of Kensington Playground hosted two events in April: At the Food Panty and Easter Basket Giveaway, 30 bags of food and 48 Easter baskets were given to local residents. And at our Kid’s Bike Safety Clinic, 13 kids received free bikes, locks, and helmets, and learned how to ride a bicycle safely.

To get involved, donate, and sign our petition, please visit our website: KensingtonPlayground.org.

Protecting Dwight’s only playground from sale and development is costly, even though we have done as much of the work as possible ourselves. Please be as generous as you can. Don’t let the City take this playground for $1 with an illegal process. Take a stand for Democracy. Fight environmental injustice. Require our city, state and federal governments to follow the law.

The Friends of Kensington Playground April Update

by Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Taking the Dwight neighborhood’s only public playground for housing amounts to environmental injustice. Our efforts to save Kensington Playground from development continue.

Friends of Kensington Playground lawsuit in State court:

  • The City of New Haven has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit (on the grounds of lack of standing).  One Friend owns her home and lives across the street, so we expect to win on that.
  • The Community Builders (TCB) has filed a motion to be a party in the lawsuit.  The judge has said no for now.

The Mayor said no to mediation at March’s neighborhood meeting, choosing instead to spend taxpayer funds needless-ly to defend a lawsuit.  There are win-win options. Mediation could be helpful.
We asked the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to get involved. They have asked the City of New Haven to explain how people in the community were involved in consideration of the sale of the site and how a review of the site’s historic significance was done in advance of the decision to sell it.

Friends of Kensington Playground will be hosting several events in the park. Please come and please wear a mask. Food Pantry, Easter Basket Giveaway: Saturday, April 3, 10 a.m.; Park Spring Clean Up: Sat., April 10, 10-11 a.m.; Kids Bike Safety Clinic: Sat., Apr. 17, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.; Clothing/Household Goods Giveaway – May, date pending.

To get involved, learn more, donate, and sign our petition, please visit our website: KensingtonPlayground.org.

Protecting Dwight’s only playground from sale and development is costly, even though we have done as much of the work as possible ourselves. Please be as generous as you can. Don’t let the City take this playground for $1 with an illegal process. Take a stand for democracy. Fight environ-mental injustice. Require our city, state and federal governments to follow the law.

The Friends of Kensington Playground – Update

by Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Our efforts to save Kensington Playground from development continue. As you will recall, the City has voted to sell the parkland to The Community Builders for $1 so that a 15-unit apartment building and parking lot can be built on the greenspace. We have posted citizen’s guides to the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 review (National Historic Preservation Act) on our website, along with our legal complaint and the alternative building sites that we have proposed. Dwight needs our largest park and only public playground. Take a look and join us in our fight.

Thanks to those who donated. We are up against a national corporation.

Please donate. To learn more, get involved, and donate, visit: KensingtonPlayground.org

The Friends of Kensington Playground – Update

Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Our efforts to save Dwight’s Kensington Playground from development continue.  Through our lawyer, we have provided the City of New Haven with several nearby alternative building sites. HUD and the CT Housing Finance Authority have acknowledged the complaints that we submitted under federal historic preservation and environmental protection law, and have asked the State Historic Preservation Office and the City of New Haven to review them. Thanks to those who donated. We are up against a national corporation.  Please donate. To learn more and donate, visit: https://www.kensingtonplayground.org.

Kensington Playground: The Fight Is Not Over! Donations Needed to Support Legal Fight to Keep Playground from Being Sold

by Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Friends of Kensington Playground is seeking donations to support our legal fight against the construction of housing and a parking lot on our largest public parkland.

The group is fighting the sale of Dwight’s Kensington Playground to The Community Builders for $1, which was approved by the New Haven Board of Alders in October so that 15 units of affordable rental housing and a surface parking lot can be built on the parkland.

The Friends group filed a complaint against the City of New Haven in Connecticut State Court. The complaint was based on the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act and Conn. Gen. Stat. §7-131n, known as the Park Replacement Statute, which requires that when a municipality takes park or open space land for other purposes, it must be replaced with parkland of equal size and value. §7-131n also requires a dedicated public hearing on the subject.

In addition, The Friends are also pursuing historic preservation and environmental issues under federal law because the playground is in the heart of the Dwight Street National Historic District and federal monies are being used by The Community Builders in the construction of the apartment building. The Friends asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to review the proposed sale. The Hartford HUD Office has directed the City of New Haven Office of Management and Budget to consider the matter.

While the Friends understand that there is a need for affordable housing, we believe there is no reason to take our parkland for it. Loss of the mature trees in the Playground will hurt our air quality. Adults as well as children enjoy this outdoor space. The non-profit developer receiving the gift of this land has had a poor track record for decades.

The group is appealing to the community for donations to our GoFundMe Campaign to Save Kensington Playground to help with legal costs, and if they win, with a playscape. GoFundMe campaign link is: https://gf.me/u/y89852 or search for “Save Kensington Playground” on GoFundMe.com.

See www.KensingtonPlayground.org for additional details, and to sign our petition.

Dwight’s Kensington Playground Is About to Be Sold for $1 to Build Housing

by Jane Comins, Friends of Kensington Playground

Kensington Playground is the largest green space and the only public playground in the Dwight neighborhood. It is about to be sold by the City of New Haven for $1 to non-profit housing developer The Community Builders/TCB. TCB plans to build a 15-unit apartment building and a 15-space surface parking lot on the playground. A diverse group of neighbors has organized to stop this sale.

The proposed deal was approved by the full Board of Alders on Monday, October 19, 2020. Only three alders, Douglass, Festa, and Roth, stood with the neighborhood. Others relied on old stereotypes of Kensington Street to hijack our only playground to benefit TCB, a non-profit developer that has not been a good landlord. Kensington Playground is a major success story for policing in New Haven. Lt. John Healy made it his top priority when taking over this police district. As a result, it is now a place we can use. The City did not follow the law. The Dwight Central Management Team never gave its support. Housing can be built without taking this playground from our children. We call upon the Mayor to reject this plan.

For updates, visit: KensingtonPlayground.org