New Haven officials tout development of ‘Food Truck Paradise’ on Long Wharf
NEW HAVEN >> The city’s revitalization efforts for its popular Long Wharf food truck area is already paying dividends, as the site is slowly developing into a more attractive destination with the help of paving welcoming both local and out-of-town consumers
Dubbed “Food Truck Paradise” by city officials who on Monday announced the status of the beautification process, the $3.1 million facelift is meant to attract more people to the waterfront while honoring its maritime heritage. Coupled with the scheduled completion of the Canal Dock Boathouse in 2018, the city hopes the area off Interstate 95 will be revitalized to spark more food traffic and visitors while supporting the local economy. The development is being paid for in part with a $935,000 grant from the state Office of Policy and Management and the city’s own budget.
There is more than 1,000 feet of pavement already installed. It’s a welcoming sight for both food truck owners and consumers that creates a walkable barrier between cars and food trucks. The former setup has been inverted, with cars now parked in front of the trucks instead of behind them, with food trucks nearer to Long Wharf Drive.
“It’s all very nice, excellent,” Sandwiches El Cubano food truck owner Osmany Hernandez said in Spanish. “It’s good for the clients and for us.”
Mayor Toni Harp thanked City Engineer Giovanni Zinn, Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson, city Alder Dolores Colon, D-6, and others for the development of the project during a brief press announcement Monday morning. “Tens of thousands of cars, trucks and drivers pass along this stretch of I-95 every day,” Harp said. “Many of them stop off to take a break from driving, to enjoy the gorgeous, beautiful view and perhaps linger awhile for lunch or dinner.”
Harp mentioned local visitors, too, the ones who may stop by for a walk or jog or to ride bicycles near the waterfront. Part of the development includes adding cycle tracks for bicycles at the opposite end of Long Wharf Drive, a suggestion made by Douglas Hausladen, city director of transportation, traffic and parking. “We thought it was important to upgrade this facility,” Harp said. “It will all combine to make this waterfront area an attractive and pleasant respite for travelers and locals alike.”
Hernandez said one issue with the new development is it provides little space for big-rig trucks to park. Zinn, whose staff spearheaded the design, said large trucks will be able to park across the pavement area, parallel to the food trucks, in an area that will have more parking spots for cars. Zinn said there will be a few hundred more parking spots created with the development.
Some of these beautification elements were being added on Monday, as nine trees were planted in the parking lot with help from Urban Resources Initiative. The trees were installed by crew members of EMERGE, a local organization providing job training for ex-offenders. “One of the highlights of this projects is in-house design,” said City Chief Administrative Officer Mike Carter. “The rapid design helped bring the project delivery timeline down to months for complete redesign of Long Wharf Drive.”
Other forthcoming features include installing power stations to eliminate use of gas-powered generators, lighting poles, four “Bigbelly” garbage cans and adding pedestrian walkways.
The area’s redevelopment will also benefit the city’s plan to govern the roughly 34 spots for food vendors created once development is completed. City Deputy Economic Development Director Steve Fontana in September presented a sweeping plan to overhaul and reinvent the city’s food vending ordinances to the Board of Alders. Fontana said he met last week with alders and vendors to continue discussing the ordinances to build a consensus.
Source: New Haven Register, By Esteban L. Hernandez