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.