Environmental Justice in Fair Haven: Recap of Our Community Conversation

On September 9, Save the Sound co-hosted an environmental justice-focused community conversation with Junta for Progressive Action, Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), and Long Island Sound Study (LISS) members in Fair Haven, a predominately Latine neighborhood in New Haven.

The event welcomes discussion on residents’ environmental concerns to better inform the Long Island Sound Study’s Environmental Justice Needs Assessment, which analyzes the environmental injustices residents are facing in the Sound region.

The afternoon began with participants completing the EJ Needs Assessment. The survey, created by LISS and research firm Responsive Management, aims to ascertain what environmental justice needs residents encounter in their communities. This includes obstacles like proximity to polluting facilities, barriers to waterfronts, and inaccessibility to funds for sustainability projects. Assessing these issues is important to advocacy groups like Save the Sound because it informs us how best to apply our scientific expertise and our advocacy.  

Fair Haven and southern CT-based residents viewing and discussing the results of the pre-survey regarding the EJ Needs Asssesment.

Responsive Management generated the survey results during the event, allowing participants to engage in thoughtful conversations. There was significant dialogue on barriers to waterfronts, specifically the management of private beaches. One resident explained, “In the dead of summer, heat gets unbearable in Fair Haven. One time, I attempted to bring my family out for a beach day and the parking available was for residents only. I attempted to bring them to another beach and the rates for parking were outrageous. I felt like we weren’t wanted there.” Further discussions addressed barriers to greenspace and how the expiration of the state’s fare-free bus program made it more difficult for residents to commute. 

Save the Sound and Restore America’s Estuaries informed attendees about the Long Island Sound Community Impact Fund (LISCIF). The program was formed through a partnership with RAE, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and LISS. The funding for LISCIF is provided by EPA through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It is awarded to projects that will increase access to the Long Island Sound while reducing environmental public health risks. They also provide technical assistance in underserved communities. 

We will soon host a similar community conversation in collaboration with Environmental Leaders of Color in Mount Vernon, New York regarding residents’ access to and use of the Hutchinson River.

We will also soon convene a Latine and Puerto Rican Voices for Climate Action Roundtable in collaboration with the Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity, and Opportunity (CWCSEO) at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, CT on October 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

To help us identify environmental needs and barriers around the Long Island Sound region, please fill out the Environmental Justice Needs Assessment

For more information about participation in the LISS EJ Needs Assessment and related activities, contact Alex Rodriguez at alexrodriguez@savethesound.org. 

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