Monday, September 29, 2008

Parks vs. Parking

I've spent the past several days thinking about open space issues in Waterbury, and stumbled onto an intriguing question: how many acres of parking lots are there in Waterbury? There are 905 acres of parks, which Mayor Jarjura says is "enough" (I strongly disagree). Jarjura, a developer, has encouraged the conversion of outlying woodlands into new office and retail spaces with ample parking lots (next weekend I think I'll be ruminating on urban sprawl). If all of the unprotected woods and fields in Waterbury were turned into parking lots and nondescript buildings, what would the ratio of pavement to greenery be?

During the hot summer months, I'm always acutely aware of parking lots. All of that open pavement radiates heat, making the summer hotter, while in the shade of the forest, the summer is cooler. In the winter, the cold wind blows freely across parking lots, while woodland trees offer a little bit of protection from the biting cold.

I wish I knew how many acres of parking lots there are in Waterbury. I could probably figure out an estimate from a map, but that would be very time consuming, so how about just a preliminary list of lots (I'm not including the parking lot between the library and City Hall because the huge old trees there make it just as much a park as a parking lot):

Buckingham Ramparage
Palace Theater/WAMS parking garage
UConn parking garage
Prospect Street parking garage
the train station parking lot and the newspaper parking lot and garage
Meadow Street parking lot (below Library Park)
Home Depot/Sports Authority
parking garages at both hospitals
Colonial Plaza
every single small shopping site in town--CVS, Walgreens, Frankie's, McDonald's, etc.
Brass Mill Mall
Wal-Mart and Stop & Shop
Marshall's and the former Shop-Rite center
the new Shop-Rite
Target/Stop & Shop mini-mall
the long strip of businesses on Lakewood Road
every condo complex

There are plenty more that I could add to the list. I would not be at all surprised to learn that there are more acres of parking lots than of parks, even though parks add much more to the city's quality of life. Obviously, businesses need parking lots, but I think they need to be less utilitarian and less sprawling.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More Trains!

Metro-North has finally added one train each way on the weekends for Waterbury, which means a new weekend schedule. Starting in October, we will now have five trains each way (not great, but definitely a step in the right direction!).

Tragically, the last train leaving Grand Central for Waterbury is still the 9:07 p.m. WHEN will they figure out that we need a later train???

Monday, September 22, 2008

I-84 "Wins", Waterbury Loses

I'm currently watching the state Department of Transportation's latest report on their plans for rebuilding the highway interchange through Waterbury. Most of their proposed plans would decimate the center of the city, even worse than what happened when the highways were first built forty years ago. The South End has never recovered from the last highway construction--the presentation immediately preceding the DOT presentation was the Loyola Development group's proposal for rebuilding the South End.

We lost the battle against the power plant and its pollution (DePillo's "compromise" amounts to nothing more than tossing a dog a bone), and now we're about to get shafted by the DOT.

[Update, 9:45 p.m.]
And, speaking of getting shafted, I can't help wondering why the Independents are spending so much time complaining about not being treated with as much respect as they want. I expect my elected officials to focus on government, but Waterbury's Independents seem to spend all their time trying to get into a fight with the Democrats, hampering the progress of government. Whining achieves nothing. Whatever happened to "sticks and stones"? They seem to be more concerned with their egos than with helping Waterbury, which means they are hurting the city they claim to work for.


Here's a snapshot I took at Hamilton Park two Saturdays ago. Flocks of Canada Geese are always a sign of changing seasons.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Every so often, I get to catch a glimpse of an amazing sunrise or sunset in Waterbury. When I lived on Johnson Street, I had a great view of the sunset, but my current home is angled just wrong for viewing the dramatic colors of the sky.

This morning, however, the sunrise was at its best right when I was hurrying to leave for the train station. If I hadn't been so worried about missing my train, I would have tried to take a photo.

There were spectacular bright pink clouds filling the sky, becoming a grayish-lavender further up, with a bright white full moon shining behind them. It was an impressive start to the day!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Cycling, part two

Rode my bicycle to the train this morning. I got up half an hour early to make sure I had enough time, but it turns out that bicycling to downtown takes the same amount of time as driving. So I had plenty of time to get breakfast at Barci's and write this post.

The train station doesn't have a bike rack, just a chain link fence, so I decided to lock up my bike at the library, where there is a lot more supervision. Leaving it there all day might annoy them, but there aren't a lot of other options.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Today I start using my bicycle to get around town. It's something I've been meaning to do, but until now I've let myself be lazy and drive. Last night, however, I did some very dramatic driving on Route 20, just before merging with 91-S, narrowly escaped death (the Good Samaritan who stopped to help couldn't believe I was uninjured, never mind still alive), and messed up my suspension, so I'm feeling very motivated to bicycle instead of drive.

One of my pitiful excuses for not bicycling around town is that "it's SO far" to get to anything. But when I used Google maps just now to see how long it might take to get where I want to go today, I realized that it's only four miles to Straits Turnpike. When I go to Cheshire to use the linear park, I routinely bicycle 20 miles. Four miles is nothing, even with the hills.

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon, so I'm heading off to enjoy the day while I run my errands.