I actually had hoped back at the beginning of this year that West Haven would break ground for the community garden in Allingtown in the spring. Silly me. I should have known better from the things I have witnessed in our city. You would think I was trying to develop a nuclear power plant on the city-owned open space property at 100 Plainfield Avenue, not a one-acre plot of land where people could grow their own vegetables. This is not my garden, this is something for all of the residents of West Haven. Virtually every other city and town in Connecticut have a community garden, or several of them. It is a disgrace that we do not have one.
I started to make some noise about our city having a community garden project five years ago. I have been trying in earnest to get the project off the ground for the last two years. I am sad and disappointed to say that not much progress has been made up to this point. Of course everyone at City Hall agrees that it is a great idea in principle, but it’s all a lot of lip service and not a whole lot of action. City Councilman Michael Last has been the most helpful with the project. He was able to secure the machinery to clear the land, one of the larger tasks of the project. We were all set to go, but then things came to a grinding halt once Michael, myself, and City Councilwoman Gail Burns met with the Open Space Commission (OSC) to share the garden plans with them.
Apparently there are no rules or regulations for any of the Open Space properties owned by the city. Go figure. Since 2000 the city has had a Conservation and Open Space Land Commission. All of this came to light as a result of the community garden project. Cove River, the city’s other large open space property, has groups coming in and out of there looking for Native American treasure and to do environmental research with some frequency. One of the groups dug holes and now those holes need to be filled but there’s no money to do so.
Several weeks ago, the OSC’s leaders met with Mayor Picard and VIPs from Parks and Recreation to talk about all of these issues and got nowhere. I asked to see the minutes from the meeting and was told there weren’t any.
So where do we go from here? I have no idea, and from what I am hearing, neither does anyone else. But do not fear, it will be a cold day in hell before I give up on this very worthwhile project. West Haven will have a community garden. I just can’t say with any certainty when it will happen.
By the way, here’s what’s going on at 100 Plainfield Avenue now: