Lahey improving relations with Hamden, University contributes $1.4 million
President John Lahey announced multiple changes for the university at a Feb. 3 press conference where he presented Hamden Mayor Curt Leng with a check for $1.4 million. These changes include adding a new residence hall to the York Hill campus, the return of the Hamden shuttles and commercial renovations on Whitney Avenue.
Lahey said in the past, the university’s relationship with Hamden was not always positive. But Lahey and Leng agree that the town-gown relations are currently the best they have ever been.
“Quinnipiac and the town are on better footing right now than we have been in a very long time, and that is a great benefit to the university and to the town,” Leng said at the press conference.
Lahey said the university is giving the town $1.4 million in addition to the $3.1 million the town will receive for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) plan for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. This money will go towards the town’s budget and will also support the arts and culture programs in Hamden, according to Leng.
Lahey also announced there are plans to build another residence hall located on York Hill. He said this residence hall will be specifically for seniors and will raise the number of beds on campus to 1,700. He said this plan should be finished and presented to the town for approval by the spring.
“We think it will attract students back from the neighborhoods and onto our campuses,” Lahey said. “This will address, too, the concerns of having students living in non-university owned housing.”
Lahey also said these apartment complexes will also house accommodations for Fraternity and Sorority Life to reside and also hold meetings.
“These will not be Fraternity houses. These will be apartments and units that we will encourage these members to have as residences and meeting spaces,” Lahey said. “They need large meeting spaces for events that they have, which we cannot accommodate on our campus. This facility will have space built into it for this purpose.”
The shuttle system will also return to Hamden, according to Lahey. He said originally that the shuttles began going to the North Haven shopping centers because they were on the shuttles’ routes and the Hamden shopping centers were out of the way.
“The Mayor was persistent on this issue and so as part of this agreement we will be adding that shuttle service back,” Lahey said. “We will be adding to our shuttle services additional routes so they will stop in the Hamden town business centers.”
Lastly, Lahey announced that the university will be landscaping the areas where the historic houses on Whitney Avenue were demolished into a commercial area for businesses to reside.
“In the areas where we knocked down the houses… we have very exciting and attractive ways of landscaping it and the two historic buildings we preserved will fit into that plan,” he said. “We hope to work with the business community to turn the western side of Whitney Avenue into commercial areas that are attractive and our students and residents of Hamden would want to use.”
Lahey said the town-gown relationship has improved because of Leng and his willingness to communicate frequently.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of cooperation and willingness with Mayor Leng to meet with us… and the issues we were talking about included compromising and having a mutual understanding on both sides,” Lahey said.
Leng said he thinks this financial contribution and relationship with the university is a step in the right direction.
“I want to thank President Lahey for taking the time to develop the relationship that he and I have and have today be a page turner in university and town relations and I hope it gets better from here,” Leng said.