Minutes for People Friendly Stamford Quarterly Meeting
Ferguson Library Board Room
January 27, 2020
By: Will Wright
Present at the meeting:
- Jerry Silber
- Dice Oh
- Dave Avery
- Rob Colgan
- Sheila Williams Brown
- Layne Rodney
- Chris Dawson
- Garret Bolella
- Jim Travers
- Emily Gordon
- Will Wright
- Steve Battalia
- Mike Moore
- David Kooris
- Jeff Holland
The purpose of this meeting was to follow up our planning meeting in November and discuss next steps under each of the three groups that emerged from that meeting: communications, initiatives, and political. Jerry Silber generously provided pizza from Remo’s for the meeting.
Chris Dawson has taken the lead in this group. He discussed his outreach efforts to try to grow our ranks. In particular, he is sending individual emails to each of the 80 or so people on the mailing list for our meetings to see if people are willing to become more involved in PFS. We learned shortly after the meeting that this effort has already begun to bear fruit. Chris is also working on refining our larger mailing list. Emily Gordon is assisting with that effort. Ideally we would identify members in each of Stamford’s 20 districts and have a person in each district who has a relationship with their respect member of the Board of Reps.
Chris also discussed two other pillars of the communications strategy. The first is to reach out to the Advocate to try to develop a relationship with the reporters. Dice Oh commented that he already regularly emails the reporters about articles. The other pillar is “analog communications,” on which Dave Avery is going to take the lead. One example of something we could do is set up a table outside of a grocery store and introduce ourselves to members of the public that way.
- Reach out to the 120 members of our “Meeting” mailing list to see who we can more actively engage - Chris, Emily
- Establish a more engaged relationship with the Advocate reporting staff - Dice
Will Wright has taken the lead in this group. Garret Bolella of the Transportation Department discussed a few items he is working on that fit under the initiatives group. The first is Read Across America Day (March 2, 2020), in which members of the Transportation Department visit kindergartens and read books about traffic safety to kids. Garret asked for volunteers from PFS to join this year and several members responded. Garret will follow up with more details.
Garret also said he has drafted a letter for PFS to send to Jeff Speck to invite him to speak in Stamford. Jeff is a well known planner and writer who is credited with inventing (or at least popularizing) the term “walkable city.” Jerry asked how we could maximize turnout for this event if it happens. Suggestions included bringing on co-sponsors (including DSSD) and possibly linking it to the Ferguson Library’s speaker series. Garret also said there is some money in the Street Smarts program to help support event.
Bike to Work Day was also discussed. It is typically held on the third Friday in May, which will be May 15th this year. Veterans Park would be the ideal location, but there are serious doubts it will be done by then. PFS was also contacted by Paige Lawrence of CTRides who has offered to help promote BTW Day with employers in Stamford.
Mike Moore of the DSSD then discussed the parklets program he is working on on behalf of Stamford Downtown. The idea is to install parklets in the spring on lower Summer Street (between Broad and Main) and for them to remain for a period of several weeks. Mike said interest among the restaurants/business he’s spoken to is high. The main hurdle right now is getting Stamford PD on board. Garret said he could help with that and was optimistic the police would support the project. Will reiterated his previous commitment to help Mike with this project.
The initiatives portion of the meeting closed with a more open-ended discussion of other things PFS could be doing to help further our mission. Dice said that we should be doing more to engage with local businesses and institutions, including UConn and some of the large employers based in Stamford. One idea was to reach out to companies with wellness programs as a way to get people involved in the regular bike rides.
Rob raised the issue of “beg buttons” at Downtown intersections. He said that no intersection Downtown should require pressing a button to get a walk signal. Everyone at the meeting agreed. Will suggested making this an official cause of PFS for 2020. Rob said he would reach out to Jim Travers about this.
- Read Across America Day
- Distribute information to team - Garrett
- Identify PFS volunteers to participate - Will (Chris & Dice have volunteered)
- Arrange for Jeff Speck talk in Stamford - Rob, Garrett, Jerry
- Identify PFS lead for Bike to work day - Jerry, Chris
- Parklet program
- Obtain project approval - Mike
- Obtain Stamford PD support - Mike, Garrett
- Develop project plan - Mike, Garrett, Will
Jerry has taken the lead in this group. He first mentioned that he and Layne Rodney attended the recent Board of Reps Transportation Committee and that Layne has volunteered to go to every meeting going forward. This is important for keeping us informed, increasing visibility, and establishing relationships with members of the BOR.
David Kooris, the new head of Stamford Downtown, succinctly summarized the problem holding back more bike/ped improvements in Stamford: money. He said we have plenty of plans in Stamford but lack the money (and political will) to implement them. This starts with the Mayor and his budget. The Transportation Department’s $250K request for bike/ped improvements was reduced to $50K by the Planning Board. Will had previously emailed the PB and asked them to keep the full $250K. The next step is for the Mayor to make his formal budget proposal. Jerry emailed the Mayor recently to ask him to reinstate the full $250K.
David also suggested we reach out to representatives at the state level, including the State Senator for much of Stamford, Carlo Leone, who is co-chair of the General Assembly’s transportation committee. We should reach out to Sen. Leone about the High Ridge bike lanes, for example, because that is a state project.
- Identify a key PFS contact for each of Stamford’s Board of Rep members - Jerry, Chris
- Attend all Transportation Committee meetings - Layne, others as available
- Notify PFS of other meetings we should attend or actions we should take to support Stamford’s bike/ped projects- Jim, Garrett
- Engage State politicians in obtaining support for bike lanes on High Ridge Road - Jerry
At the end of the meeting, Rob Colgan stressed the importance of education for PFS members—the more informed we are, the better we will be able to advocate for the changes we want. Rob also gave a plug for Asana, which is the online collaboration tool we have been using. All regular PFS members are encouraged to use Asana.
Emily Gordon also spoke about the March 3, 2020 election in several districts for members of the Stamford Democratic City Committee. This election is important because this is the body that picks candidates for all of the local and state elections. Emily is running in District 10. Everyone in that district should vote for her. She is also part of a larger slate of candidates that is running across the city. Her team rejects the idea that someone should be able to be on the committee and also pick themself to run for a position.
Our next gathering will be at the monthly happy hour at Cask Republic on February 26, 2020 at 5:30pm.
Prior Meeting Minutes