Organizers are billing this event as “The Alternative Hugo Black Lecture”, in contestation of the University’s choice to invite Israeli Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak, a figure accused of normalizing torture, occupation, and apartheid in Palestine, to give the annual Hugo Black Lecture in the Memorial Chapel. Antonin Scalia, who spoke for the Hugo Black Lecture in spring 2012, drewintense protest for his reactionary judicial record.
Ross Levin ’15 with the details:
We are experiencing the end of an historical cycle, not just another crisis. All over the world, people are taking initiatives reclaiming the control of their lives and challenging the political system and dominant paradigms. What is the nature of these initiatives? How can we move past the logic of a neoliberal project of development to collectively reach that which lies beyond?
After some lengthy discussion, the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission has unanimously approved zoning text changes first submitted by representatives of Centerplan Company, now with substantial amendments. The room was once again packed with members of the public, including many students, faculty, and staff from Wesleyan.
The newly amended changes, in the eyes of the Commissioners, affords the P&Z greater authority to exercise oversight upon actual submitted proposals for development.
As these new changes alter the nature of special exceptions in MX Zones (which include the relevant section of Washington Street), Centerplan will now have to submit a development proposal to the P&Z for a special exception to go forward with their planned development (sans bookstore and in the face of continued opposition by the public). Yes, there will be another public hearing.
In case you somehow missed it, there has been a lot of talk since last semester about a proposed development that could find itself right next to Wesleyan’s campus on Washington Street, between High and Pearl. For those who have strong interest and/or opinions about this topic, Middletown’s Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing on Wednesday, February 27th at 7 p.m. that will address two zone-change proposals that could either allow or prevent this development from happening.
Specifically, the hearing will address the developers’ zoning code text amendment proposal — which would allow for more commercial development on Washington Street to go forward — and that of avid opponent to the development Ed Mckeon, which would make the zone under consideration become eligible for residential use only, thus preventing the development from going forward. More information about the two zone change proposals can be found here, but disregard the original pre-Nemo hearing date.
If you want to attend and/or testify at the hearing, here is some important information:
What: Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission Public Hearing on proposed zoning code text amendments Where: 245 DeKoven Drive, Council Chambers (in City Hall) When: February 27th at 7 p.m. If you plan on testifying: try to arrive before 7 p.m., and bring at least one printed copy of your testimony. You will only be given a couple minutes to deliver it, so make it concise.
For extensive reporting on all things Washington Street Development, check out the links after the jump (provided by the WSA).
On Monday we provided an update from the sexy and glamorous world of Middletown zoning policy. Dueling zoning change proposals had been filed, both concerning the fate of the proposed commercial development on Washington Street. One comes from Robert Landino, the developer in question.The other is from Ed McKeon, a Middletown activist and blogger, seeking to block the “cookie-cutter strip mall.”
Today McKeon provides an update: his request has been tabled because he doesn’t own property in any ID zone. McKeon’s application has been sent to a city attorney for an “opinion,” but he’s not giving up:
In the meantime, I’m attempting to recruit any landowner in an ID zone willing to add their name to my application. It obliges them in no way, but allows me to make a full presentation as to why we should be preserving our historic residences, especially in the face of unnecessary and ugly commercial/retail development.
BTW, the developers, while not owners of property in an MX zone will be allowed to pursue a zoning change in that zone because they have an option on that property.
On the basis of strong communitysentiment, Wesleyan has decided not to relocate its bookstore to Washington Street. Objections to the bookstore relocation (and planned development) included concerns about pedestrian safety, increased traffic, and disruption of the residential neighborhood. Wesleyan had signed a non-binding agreement with the developer, Centerplan Companies, to give the University the opportunity to discuss the proposal with its community before reaching any conclusions. On November 27, Wesleyan held an open forum on the proposed relocation, and the views of faculty, staff, students and neighbors from Middletown who participated were strongly against the proposal. Wesleyan also sought and received community input on a blog it created about the proposed relocation, and Wesleyan administrators received emails from and held conversations with individuals and campus groups.
According to WSA Finance and Facilities Committee Chair Andrew Trexler ’14, he and WSA Pres Zachary Malter ’13met with Peters and Topshe last week and “conveyed a broad range of student opinion, which was predominantly opposed to the move and the development.”
We actually didn’t get an e-mail about this, but this panel today with the College of the Environment Think Tank 2012seems semi-relevant to the current battle that is taking place over the Centerplan development:
NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) environmental protests are usually associated with images and rhetoric of selfish, parochial communities who engage in violent clashes with authorities. Most social science literature thus far has focused on what policy makers and businesses can do to avoid this kind of opposition. This panel takes a different view. Examining NIMBY environmental protests in Germany, China, Russia, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, the four panelists will argue that although they may begin with narrow goals, NIMBY protests can often have positive and lasting influences on environmental policy and governance.
Middletown to CenterPlan: “I think this is just La La Land!”
Speaking of Tuesday’s open forum regarding the proposed Wesleyan bookstore relocation (liveblog here, additional coverage here), turns out our comrades over at the Middletown Eye managed to film the entire discussion, beginning with a presentation from developers CenterPlan and continuing with a whole barrage of comments from pissed off community members. Thanks, Middletown Eye!
You can check out a “highlight reel” courtesy of the Eyehere. My personal favorite clip, in which a bearded community member begins laughing and then stands up and volunteers to run for office to oppose the development, appears above. “I’ll do that!” he warns. “You watch.” A close second is this one, in which a rather disgruntled longtime Middletown resident Professor of Music Neely Bruce tells the CEO of CenterPlan that he’s living “in La La Land.”
Watch footage of the entire proceedings (it’s about 90 minutes total) below and past the jump. More on the discussion here.
Ed Thorndike ’89: “Closing is not something that we view as an option.”
Yesterday I liveblogged an open community forum in PAC 001 regarding the proposed Washington Street commercial development and Wesleyan bookstore relocation. Considering recent controversy, I expected to hear some forceful arguments from community members. My expectations were exceeded. If you missed the 90-minute discussion, a quick glance at the liveblog coverage might hint at the passion with which students, faculty, alumni, and Middletown residents spoke out against the proposal. Some of the major complaints addressed traffic concerns, Washington Street safety, threats to local businesses, whether or not downtown really needs national chains, disregard for historic structures, permanent changes to zoning laws, Red & Black Cafe, skepticism towards the developers’ stated desire for “linkage” and “community,” and, ultimately, the character of downtown Middletown itself. Succinctly put, there’s a lot wrapped up in this proposal.
Inspired by many of the voices expressed at the forum, I stuck around afterwards to interview a few of the more outspoken community members. Some brief video statements appear past the jump. They feature two Wesleyan alumni (both of whom live and work in Middletown) and one current professor.
If my reporting seems one-sided—admittedly, I’m no fan of the proposal myself—it’s worth clarifying that of the 150 or more attendees at this forum, not one spoke up in favor of the development. Nobody seemed to like the idea. Nobody seemed to believe it will provide the “linkage” and “community engagement” it’s supposed to offer.
“Bye is a long-time resident of West Hartford and was first elected to the school board in 2001. She is the former director of Trinity
College Community Child Care and the School for Young Children at Saint Joseph College. Beth has been involved with the development of 3 preschool facilities since 2000: The School for Young Children in West Hartford, The Charter School for Young Children in Hartford and The Wintonbury Early Childhood Magnet School in Bloomfield.
Though Mayor Dan Drew spoke today in approval of the project, saying it would bring new shoppers into Middletown, an editorial in the Middletown Eye by Wesleyan alum and local Wesleyan parent Jen Alexander ’88—originally entitled “Don’t Bring That Horse Inside City Gates,” apparently—thinks just the opposite. She sees the structure as a 10,000 sq. ft behemoth that, with its national chains like Starbucks and Chipotle, would mainly bring people in from the highway and back. Middletown has had a rough history with nationally branded retail; the departure of Sears and Woolworth’s from Main Street many years ago, according to Alexander, led to a long period of blight. Now that Middletown has a rich variety of independent businesses, especially coffee shops like Klekolo, “it would be a shame if Wesleyan—dear, independent, iconoclastic Wesleyan—was the backer that started us back on the road to Anywhereville, after we’ve come so far,” Alexander writes.