Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why Live Here

The recent announcement of a small increase in the city's tax rate has been met with an outpouring of moaning and whining from people declaring that everyone should move out of the city, and politicking from local Republicans and Independents. I have not come across any viable suggestions of what can be cut from the budget to save money without harming needed city operations, just reactionary negativity about how this is a terrible thing. Yes, we have a municipal budget problem. But the problem will not be solved overnight, and short-sighted, knee-jerk reactions are not going to help.

There are far too many times when negativity has the loudspeaker in Waterbury. In the seventeen years that I've worked and lived in this city, I've encountered a seemingly endless parade of negativity. Too many people are eager to tell you what they hate about Waterbury, or how much they wish they lived somewhere else, and how nothing will ever change.

What amazes me most are the people who think that nationwide economic troubles exist only in Waterbury, or that Waterbury is somehow worse than any other city in Connecticut.

Enough moaning from me about other people moaning about Waterbury. Here is the list of reasons why I gladly choose to live in Waterbury.

That's right, affordability is at the top of my list. Yes, the mill rate is high, but that's because the property values are low. My monthly mortgage payment is $600, and that includes the property taxes. There is no way that I could get a mortgage that cheap in the suburbs, or anywhere in Fairfield and Litchfield Counties. I can't even rent an apartment for that small an amount.

Fresh paint and new flooring; from when I bought my house in 2007.

Quality Housing
Waterbury is full of houses and apartment buildings that were built to last, and built to be beautiful. Of course, if you want to live in a post-1960, cheaply constructed, firetrap apartment or condo where the walls are so flimsy you can hear your neighbors whispering in their living room, we've got that too. But if you want a distinctive, unique home that makes you smile when you get home at the end of the day, a house that suits your personality and sense of individuality, Waterbury excels.

A large home in the Overlook neighborhood.

Food Diversity
We may not have the diversity of restaurants found in a larger city, but if you look past the preponderance of Italian restaurants, Chinese delivery, and pizzarias, you'll find Thai, Japanese, Lebanese, Turkish, Pakistani, Jamaican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican, BBQ, Soul, and Portuguese.

We also have a good number of small international groceries and delis, each of which specializes in foods of a specific country.

Pastries at the Albanian Festival.

Cultural Diversity
Because there are so many different immigrant groups in Waterbury, it is a very culturally diverse city, which is a great thing. The festivals held throughout the year by the various ethnic groups is one of Waterbury's best features.

Although mainstream sports tends to dominate in Waterbury, there are plenty of organizations, businesses, and activities to appeal to people looking for something other than baseball, football, and basketball.

Coasters for sale at the Greek Festival.

We don't just have cultural diversity: we also have Culture. Sure, if your idea of entertainment is the movies, we've got that. We've also got museums, a library, music, theaters (the non-movie kind), outdoor Shakespeare performances, parades, lectures, and discussions. We've even got two state college campuses that regularly hold cultural events that are open to the public.

Shakesperience performance at Library Park.

Waterbury has some great parks and is working on building a new linear park along the Naugatuck River that will connect to other towns. If it's a beautiful day and you want to get outside and enjoy a walk in the park, or take the kids to the playground, Waterbury has that.

Tulips at Hamilton Park.

Central Location
I love being able to do day trips to New York City and Boston. I like being able to pop up to Hartford or down to New Haven for quick visits. I like that I can go to the beach, or go for 26-mile car-free bike ride, or go hiking in the woods during the summer, and spend the winter skiing or snowboarding (not that I'm any good at either of those things, and haven't done them in years, but I like that I could). From Waterbury, it's a short drive to a wide variety of excursions.

The three major transit routes to and from Waterbury: I-84, Route 8, and the train line.

Waterbury is a safe city. Our police department does an amazing job not only of keeping major things like the homicide rate extremely low, but they also do an amazing job of building community through PAL and the Community Relations department.

PAL's Summer Youth Employment Program at work, helping a senior with his yard.

Living in a city is all about convenience. I'm a ten minute drive, at most, from anything I need, be it a hospital or a grocery store.

Farmer's Market on the Green.

Waterbury's size is "just right" for anyone to have their voice heard or to establish a platform for success. In some ways, Waterbury is like an overgrown small town, where it's very easy to get to know a large number of people. There are countless volunteer opportunities to help you feel connected, keep you busy, or let you give back to the community. It's also a very supportive town: whatever you want to do, you will find someone to cheer you on and help make it happen. Despite the negativity I mentioned at the start of this post, Waterbury is full of people who are eager to see this city and its people succeed.

Community volunteers creating the "Cool Waters" mural at the Palace Theater.

Last, but not least, when you live or work in Waterbury, it's very easy to feel connected to other people. Newcomers are quickly welcomed into a community of people who don't think twice about making them feel like they belong here. I've lived and worked in towns where newcomers are treated as pariahs, so that makes me appreciate Waterbury's openness even more.

A game of chess at the Old Skool Picnic at Lakewood Park.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

This was just a breath of fresh air, Raechel! The people who are so angry about the taxes are threatening to go elsewhere. If they can't pay these taxes, what makes them think they can afford a house in the suburbs?

I am really hoping to come back and help out on the Design Committee again. Your love for Waterbury! combined with mine helps us to make a difference. Bonnie ps I love your new floors and the beautiful blue walls!