A new future for West Haven

Ben Atwater

Following in the ever progressing trend of the University of New Haven, a new commission of students has been formed to further the relationship between West Haven and UNH.

From left to right: John Lewis (Assistant to Mayor), Sam Nicosia, Navjot Singh, Mayor Edward O’Brian, Benjamin Atwater, Sabrina Schell, Dan Delgado-taken by Chris Haynes in West Haven city council hall (Photo provided by Ben Atwater)
From left to right: John Lewis (Assistant to Mayor), Sam Nicosia, Navjot Singh, Mayor Edward O’Brian, Benjamin Atwater, Sabrina Schell, Dan Delgado-taken by Chris Haynes in West Haven city council hall (Photo provided by Ben Atwater)

Titled the “Advisory Commission on the Future of UNH & West Haven,” the mission statement of the commission is “to better university relations and involvement with the West Haven community, and to catalyze the evolution towards a more vibrant, community-centric West Haven.”

This commission is attempting to make the UNH community more present in the West Haven community and vice versa.

Headed by political science professor Chris Haynes, this commission is made up of a handful of selected students spanning all different majors and interests.

“The idea came to me during my Ideas of Law class last semester,” said Haynes in an interview. “We had to gather data from the mayor’s office, and noticed a lack of social connectedness between West Haven and UNH. The West Haven community was very different from what we thought it was.”

Haynes handpicked the commission to get the best possible dynamic of students working towards a common goal. “I was looking for students with drive, ambition, and a willingness to make a difference.”

Serving on the Advisory Commission are Legal Studies major Sabrina Schell, Engineering major Dan Delgado, Criminal Justice major John Houllahan and Marketing majors Ben Atwater and Navjot Singh.

Chairing the commission is junior Sam Nicosia, Political Science major. “After working with the mayor’s office in my Ideas of Law class last semester, I saw a huge opportunity to get more involved with West Haven” said Nicosia. “I love my fellow commission members. Everyone’s really dedicated to getting things done.”

Nicosia has led the group by keeping the commission on track with its mission statement. Schell is very excited to serve on the commission as well.

“I had a class with Chris last semester, so was more than happy to work under him again,” said Schell. “I think the commission has good ideas. I really like the people on it, and I can tell that all of our talents will really pay off.”

The commission has already kicked off a meeting with Mayor Edward O’Brien on March 9 in West Haven City Hall. Also present was John Lewis, Executive Assistant to the mayor. At the meeting, the commission pitched a five-pronged strategic plan to build a strong relationship between the town and the school.

The commission aims to statistical feedback of students’ perception of West Haven to the mayor’s stressing. This means polling students as to how they feel about West Haven, whether it be safety related or shopping preferences. By providing data to the mayor’s office, public administration can take steps to change student perceptions, whether it be installing more lighting or attracting new businesses to the town.

The second point of the plan is to build awareness of West Haven events and businesses among the UNH student body. Inviting businesses to campus, or posting advertisements through campus media channels like The Charger Bulletin or fliers around campus can help build awareness. This also means attracting student friendly businesses to West Haven.

Most of the businesses in West Haven were here before the school moved from New Haven in 1960. There are not many local businesses that cater to the college niche market like the shops in Princeton. By gathering the aforementioned statistics, West Haven’s offices will be able to send these statistics to corporations to urge the development of student friendly franchises to open up locations in West Haven.

Furthermore, the commission aims to further develop communication between town government offices and UNH offices. Both Mayor O’Brien and Lewis were very impressed and excited to work toward this goal for a brighter future for West Haven. While the Advisory Commission has just been born, it is clear that it will grow to accomplish great things to further enhance UNH and West Haven.