Monday, November 18, 2013

My budget work turned deficits into surpluses while maintaining services.

There was so much that happened in the two short years that I was Mayor. One of the larger was the city budget.

When I arrived as Mayor, I had to contend with tens of millions in budget deficits that I inherited. Despite this, I and the Council successful balanced two budgets (FY12, FY13) - turning deficits into surpluses, while maintaining the quality of public services and improving support for schools. And, after a lot of budget work this year, I succeeded in making about $10 million extra available to complete the current year budget (FY14) in balance - if the new administration manages well, as my administration did.

I always said that addressing the budget problems I inherited would be more than a two year project, and that every budget year for 4-5 years would require a lot of work, adjustments and innovative thinking. Easy and simple solutions were just not going to do it. That was true straight through my time as Mayor, but I addressed these challenges in a way that maintained the quality of services and moved the city forward. Since the new administration now faces at least two more years of addressing the budget problems I inherited, that same level of innovation, hard work and flexibility will be needed.

And, just as I did, I hope that the new administration will continue to do this while maintaining public services and moving the city forward. Our community would not be well served by announcements about budget challenges that are made as a pretext for cutting public services that were preserved under my administration. Those public services - education, parks, public safety, roads and infrastructure etc. - are important for our city's people, and I urge our city's people to advocate for them.

Friday, July 05, 2013

New Britain Senior Center is open as a cooling center due to the heat Saturday, July 6.

Message from Mayor Tim O'Brien:

Due to the forecast high temperature and humidity, resulting is a heat index potentially over 100 degrees, I have ordered that the New Britain Senior Center, at 55 Pearl Street, be open as a cooling center from 12 noon to 6pm tomorrow, Saturday, July 6th.

I urge all city residents to exercise caution because of the heat and to check with relatives and neighbors who might be vulnerable to the conditions to ensure that they are OK.

Here is additional information the City would like you to be aware of:
With summer upon us and temperatures over 90 degrees expected over the next few days, the New Britain Health Director is urging all those who work outdoors or in other hot environments to learn to recognize and protect themselves from heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat remains a leading preventable cause of suffering and death.  According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, each year in the US, several hundred people are killed by heat related conditions, and thousands become ill.  People at risk for heat related illness are those who are unable to cool themselves adequately during extreme heat. 
During hot weather, especially when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and use common sense. The following tips are important:

  • Drink Plenty of Fluids 
  • Increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour.
  • Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask your doctor about additional fluid consumption in hot weather.
  • Don't drink liquids that contain alcohol, or large amounts of sugar—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Replace Salt and Minerals 
  • Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. These are necessary for your body and must be replaced. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. However, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing and Sunscreen 
  • Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids. It also causes pain and damages the skin. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) along with sunglasses, and apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels) 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.
  • Pace Yourself 
  • If you are not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or at least into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.
  • Stay Cool Indoors 
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area. Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Take a cool shower or bath or move to an air-conditioned place.
  • If you don't have air conditioning, spend some time in the New Britain Senior Center. The Senior Center is available to residents as a drop-in site to provide relief from the heat. This is a short term “drop in” cooling station. The Senior Center is regularly available Monday through Friday from 8:15am until 4:00am and is located on 55 Pearl Street.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Greek Festival in New Britain

Message from Mayor Tim O'Brien:

I would like to invite you and your family to the 2013 Greek Festival in New Britain, being held this Friday (today), Saturday and Sunday.

Come celebrate Greek culture, music, authentic food, dance and a Greek Market.

The Greek Festival is taking place at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church at 301 West Main Street on the corner of West Main and Grove Hill.

It is happening Friday until to midnight, Saturday from 11am-1am, and Sunday from Noon to 10pm. The Festival is open to the public and admission and parking are free.

I hope to see you this weekend.

Take care!

Friday, May 10, 2013

2013 Race in the Park

Message from Mayor Tim O’Brien:

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 11th, the day before Mother’s Day, is the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative’s 10th Anniversary Race in the Park.

New Britain is proud host to this important event in Walnut Hill Park because it is important to make a difference locally in the fight against breast cancer.

Ways you can donate and help can be found online at, and in-person registration race day starts at 6:30am and continues until shortly before the races and walks begin.

The men's 5K begins at 8:00am, the kids' runs at 8:45am, the women's 5K at 9:15am and the walks at 10:15am. The Survivor Brunch is scheduled for 11:00am.

The 2013 Race in the Park will include a Sponsor’s Tent, Food Vendors, Breast Cancer Researcher’s Tent, Kid’s Expo, entertainment, and much more!

I invite you to be a part of this wonderful annual event in our city!

Thank you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

New Britain Community Gardens Multi-Cultural Fundraiser Dinner

The New Britain Community Gardens Multi-Cultural Fundraiser Dinner is coming up. The event will be at the Polish American Foundation at 27 Grove Hill at 6pm on Friday, April 26. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. children ages 4-under are free. 

There will be delicious ethnic foods from various parts of the world, Mexican dancers, young guitar players, awesome silent auction prizes, and more.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Mayor Tim O’Brien Proposes $22.6 Million Investment in City Schools

Statement from Mayor Tim O’Brien:
When it comes to education in our city, we need to do more than just maintain the status quo. The need in our city for quality education - both the moral need and the economic one - is just too great. We must set our community on a course toward the investment that is needed to provide a quality education in our city schools.
The needs are great. In New Britain, the total number of people ages twenty-five and older with no high school diploma is 11,253. That is 15.4% of our city - almost one in six - who are without even the basic attainment of a high school diploma.
Education leaders have faced tough decisions throughout the City’s fifteen schools - choices between maintaining personnel or essential supplies such as text books. Investments in our schools infrastructure have been largely ignored in an effort to keep teachers in the classroom and preserve basic programs.
Prior to the current administration, flat-funding of the $118 million education budget several years in a row, forced cuts to dozens of teachers, aids, maintenance workers and guards in the schools – all while test scores plummeted. This announcement represents a significant change in course.
Investing in our children is investing in our future. Quality education is the path to a strong economy and vibrant neighborhoods. For future workers, it means having skills to do jobs that pay enough to lift families into the middle class. For our City, it means having a workforce that makes our community an attractive place to locate or expand a business and create jobs. For our property tax base and housing stock, it means the difference between having a community where families from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds wish to invest in, and raise their children in, versus a community where basic services and needs are not obtainable.
Years of flat funding at the local level have only exacerbated our challenges. That is why, last year with the support of the Common Council, I increased the city’s funding to the Board of Education’s budget by $500,000 - reversing a multi-year trend of flat funding.
This year I am proposing education funding of $141,200,000 - $22,639,443 higher than the current budget - and $2,512,660 higher than the Board of Education request.
The increase will come from both the General Fund budget and capital investments through bonding. We can’t afford not to make this investment – few investments pay off with the high rate of return for our community than investing in our children – the future of our city.
While we collectively have recognized that additional investments in education have been necessary, experiences of children outside of the schools are as important as in. That’s why I have been prioritizing community initiatives designed to improve the quality of life for our young people.
Additionally, I reiterate my promise to present a budget that does not raise property taxes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mayor Timothy O'Brien State of the City Address 2013


President Trueworthy, Leaders Bielinski and Pabon, members of the Common Council, and, most importantly, people of New Britain, I am pleased to report that our city is moving forward. Our city is stronger and in better position than it was one year ago, and the progress in that one year has been significant.

In a time of national economic uncertainty that still challenges so many of our residents, families, and businesses, we have remained focused, and committed to creating jobs, improving the quality of life in our-neighborhoods, supporting quality education and maintaining public services while not raising taxes.

And from day one we have made bold decisions to move forward on a path of progress, fighting the difficulties of a global recession and inherited budget deficits to build our economy, renew our Police Department, and address blight in our neighborhoods and build a better quality of life for every resident.

Our job now is to build on the progress of the last 16 months because, as we all know, there is more that needs to be done.

During the first year of this term, my administration has been focused on the things that need to be done to build a brighter future for our city:

  1. Economic Development & Job Creation
  2. Ensuring a good quality of life in our neighborhoods
  3. Supporting quality education, and
  4. Maintaining public services while not raising taxes.

I am happy to report, that in this relatively small period of time, we have made noticeable progress in all of these areas.

We’ve moved New Britain forward by aggressively pursuing economic development opportunities. I cannot recall a time in recent memory when there has been nearly as much construction in our city than is occurring now.

My number one job as Mayor is job creation for the people of our city and building our city into a brighter and more prosperous future. Everything depends on our economic success, from the economic security of individual families to our ability to fund the public services that provide for a good quality of life, good paying jobs and a vibrant economy.

Since I became mayor I have been unyielding in my commitment to increasing development for our City. Looking back on sixteen months of progress I want to thank the many state leaders, like the Governor and his team, our state delegation in the legislature, business leaders, the Chamber of Commerce and so many others in our community for their shared commitment to continuous economic growth in New Britain.

Since the first day I took office I have fought day-in and day-out to retain jobs we already have and to create new ones.

The numbers speak for themselves.

In December Aerospace manufacturer Polamer Precision broke ground on a 150,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility which will open in October 2013 and bring 72 good paying jobs to the city and promises to create 50 more by 2016. This is the first solid business development at Pinnacle Park, and it is exactly the kind of high-tech jobs of the future we need. I am proud of working with Polamer to make this development possible.

With city and state assistance, 25 new jobs will be created at Peter Paul Electronics Co. over the next five years. This is an example of how a long-time New Britain manufacturer can grow and create jobs and build on their New Britain tradition of success to continue to advance as a leader in the global market.

B&G Design will be moving 40 jobs to New Britain and plans on hiring 5 new employees.

Varsk Machine LLC added over 16,000 square feet to their operation and look to hire 6 new employees.

The COSTCO project is on track and is expected to result in 220 jobs and approximately $500,000 annually in tax revenue.

The construction of our police station is complete with the first commercial tenant chosen and second under negotiation.

The $100 million investment in neighborhood revitalization at Corbin Heights and Pinnacle Extension that I and former Senator DeFronzo Worked so hard to achieve is under construction, with a number of units already complete.

The Hospital of Central Connecticut broke ground on a $40 million, 70,000 square-foot state-of-the-art cancer center that will combine all cancer services into one convenient location and allow for future expansion of cancer care.

New Britain has seen an additional $20 million of private investment in the last sixteen months and we are not stopping. We will continue to move forward. We are assisting manufactures who have been the engine of economic growth for decades.

And I will soon be rolling out a manufacturing employment initiative that will enhance employment and training programs within our city. This will not only improve the employment prospects for individual workers, but more than that, it will send a message to manufacturers that New Britain is a city that takes our manufacturing economy seriously. It sends a message that New Britain is great place to grow and build new high-tech manufacturing.

This is our future and we are moving forward.

We are going to continue to build on the progress of the CTFastrak construction. Downtown and its immediate radius offer a substantial market within the proximity of this future rapid bus transit terminal for future investment. Within a half mile radius, you’ll find professional offices, restaurants, Walnut Hill Park, the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain's largest retail plaza, downtown merchants, La Quinta Inn, and a multi-storied municipal parking garage.

In 2013 our downtown will continue to see transformation, and we will, as promised, move forward on construction of our new downtown streetscape and “complete streets,” project. This project will not only beautify our downtown but will provide pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, improve connectivity to the CTfastrak station and leverage private investment in our downtown.

But, New Britain’s economic resurgence will not be tied solely to large commercial development. Small business development is an essential part of our economic future and I want to reaffirm my commitment to helping New Britain businessmen and businesswomen prosper.

That is why we are renewing the city’s business loan program, to help small businesses to grow.

And we are moving forward with our Arch Street Planning Committee in creating a new plan to renew Arch Street and help build a vibrant commercial and cultural neighborhood our city’s Latino community can be proud of.

We are continuing to work with the leaders and businesses on our already vibrant Broad Street to continue to build on the success of our state’s center of Polish culture and commerce.

Building success for our city’s central commercial corridor must mean having an active and resourceful marketing strategy. New Britain has a wealth to offer residents and visitors, alike — from theaters and museums to restaurants and shops. But the wonderful things that are in and are happening in our city will not result in the vibrant future that it can if people do not know about them.

That is why I am working with community leaders to announce, in the coming weeks, a new marketing plan to parley our great assets into a successful downtown, and vibrant commercial center.

Part of this, you can already see in motion. We have already used the community notification system put in place under my administration to bring people together for cultural events and community activities. From the new downtown Halloween celebration, which we will be doing again, to festivals and other events, we have been and will continue to use this resource to bring the community together to activities that make our downtown and community a more vibrant place.

And my administration will continue our work to help community groups create festivals and community activities. Enjoyable activities help build our community and our local economy.

In the upcoming week, we expect to announce a new and exciting development for the Shaws site on West Main Street. In the upcoming weeks, we will be announcing additional new businesses here in New Britain.

In addition to job growth and economic development we’ve seen renewed energy for the arts, and We’re secured funds to back up our community’s enthusiasm. In the past year, New Britain’s arts and culture programs have attracted new funds and world class art in our downtown. The arts will continue to play an integral role in building a more vibrant downtown and community.

In just one year, we have accomplished so much. We are justifiably proud of what we have accomplished. For the future that our community needs and deserves, we need to accomplish so much more. That is why economic development is the most important part of my work as Mayor.

You don’t have to have a child in public school, to understand that our children hold the keys to a brighter future for the entire community — an investment in them is an investment in all of us.

That is why, last year with the support of the Common Council I increased the city’s funding to the Board of Education’s budget — reversing a multi-year trend of flat funding.

And we must prepare our children to be successful in the jobs of the future, including the medical profession. That is why it is so important that we broke ground on the new 145,000 square-foot Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Magnet School. This is our city’s first interdistrict magnet school in New Britain, and it complements the wonderful Health Academy program we already have at New Britain High School.

Quality education is at the core of a successful future economy for our city. For future workers, it means having skills to do the jobs that pay enough to lift families into the middle class. For our city, it means having a workforce that makes our community an attractive place to locate or expand a business and create jobs.

Quality education is a moral imperative - the moral question of whether the kids growing up in our city deserve the same shot in life as youngsters growing up in more affluent communities.

And, while we increase the priority of education, we must also act on the reality that the quality of learning is as much affected by the experiences of children outside of the schools as in. That’s why I have heavily prioritized community initiatives designed to improve the quality of life in our young people.

I believe very strongly that all the people of our city deserve to be able to live in neighborhoods with a great quality of life. Ensuring that quality of life includes addressing the very real problems of abandoned, dilapidated and poorly maintained buildings — in other words, blight.

We all understand it takes more than strong ordinances to fight blight — it takes political will, enforcement, and it takes persistence. Of all the challenges we face as a city, addressing blighted buildings is the one in which we have the greatest authority to make a meaningful difference for the people of our community. But that does not always happen. In fact, in the history of our city, it usually has not — for the same reason it is usually hard to ask vested interests to change for the better.

But the time has come for our city to act for the betterment of all of the people of our city, and not accept the proposition that New Britain’s residents, especially people of humble means, must be made to live in substandard conditions and in neighborhoods made tougher to live in because of blighted buildings. The people of our city deserve better than to be treated that way, and it is our responsibility — the leaders of our city — to stand up for them.

I refuse to back down from this important Work. There is too much at stake.

Gone are the times of it being acceptable for blighted properties to sit vacant — neglected and in disrepair, casting our city’s neighborhoods into landscapes of urban decay. Gone are the times of inaction. Our residents have spoken.

Fighting blight is about improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods. It is about improving health and public safety and turning around years of neglect. I am determined in my efforts to build safer neighborhoods, reduce blight and with it crime.

Residents should feel free to call my office directly to report blight. We are here to work for you. We are here to make your community a better place.

Across our city, properties are being cleaned up and the ones that remain problem properties will continue to face our tough enforcement policies. Our anti-blight policies have already had a significant positive impact.

During the period of November 2010 through October 2011, the city filed no liens and collected no fines for severe blight. But, since I assumed in November 2011, $1.2 million in liens have been filed and $15,000 collected for severe blight. From 2010 to 2011, the city issued only 497 citations for general violations but the following year we filed 787 citations. Enforcement of New Britain’s anti-blight ordinances has been greatly increased and are making a difference.

The evidence of success can also been seen by looking at some of the most notoriously blighted buildings in New Britain. The Berkowitz Building, located in the heart of New Britain’s economic corridor, was left vacant for more than 15 years until thousands of dollars in fines, due to enforcement of the anti-blight ordinance, caused the Staten Island property owner to turn the building over to the City of New Britain for a small amount. Since we have taken ownership, we have received two exciting proposals from private development companies to turn the top floors of the building into apartments and the ground level into retail stores.

Another example of the positive impact of the ordinances is 25 Gilbert Street, a neglected house that will be demolished and converted to homes by Habitat for Humanity.

For some property owners, the strengthened anti-blight ordinance has been an incentive to renovate their existing properties to avoid hefty fines. That is why the old Burritt Bank, a prominent building on Main Street in downtown New Britain had repairs to its windows and other broken parts.

Blighted properties are a drain on city budgets. They draw away from the quality of life, as well as the economic opportunities, of those living around them and severely diminish the value of properties in the community. These neglected or abandoned properties are more than just eyesores — they are detrimental to the safety, health, welfare and economic growth of the community.

Blighted and abandoned buildings are assessed for taxes at a reduced amount because they are in disrepair. That means less funding for our local schools and other services. Abandoned buildings result in unfair higher taxes on people who actually live in New Britain. This is unfair and wrong — I will work tirelessly to end it.

With the success we have had in addressing the problems with blighted buildings in our community, we must also turn our attention to the proactive investments that we need to be making to ensure a good quality of life for the people of our city.

We must be investing in quality housing in our neighborhoods. That is why my administration has implemented a new forgivable housing loan program — the Grow New Britain Home Ownership Program — to invest in our neighborhoods, while helping people to afford the dignity of homeownership.

That is also why, in coming weeks, I will be proposing a new program to help strengthen neighborhoods and create jobs by investing in quality housing.

And we need to be acting to improve the quality of community life in neighborhoods. That is why my administration is rolling out a new Community Gardens program. Community members have been meeting and working together to set-up the first three community gardens in our city places where people in a neighborhood of all ages can come together, grow vegetables and plants and, in the process, grow a stronger community. There will be community gardens this summer on Chapman Street, Lawlor Street and West Main Street.

But we need to do more. We need to be investing in improvements that make our parks and public places quality places for people to enjoy together.

That is why, very soon, I will be proposing new investments in our public parks. One of the things I will be proposing will be field improvements at Chesley Park — where the Junior Hurricanes have made their home for their athletic programs for kids.

I will also be proposing investments to restore our city's war memorials that have been shamelessly vandalized. The brave people who gave their lives for our country should be honored and remembered. Our monuments should be honored memorials for them — not blank scars of malicious vandalism. Let's invest in making these improvements.

Of course, the public places that we use the most are our roads and sidewalks. We may not think about them unless they are in disrepair, but whether they are in good condition affects our neighborhood quality of life very directly. This basic infrastructure not only affects how our neighborhoods look to ourselves and visitors, but it also affects our city's economic prospects — telling prospective investors whether our community is a place in which they want to invest. We are wise to invest in our roads, sidewalks and infrastructure.

That is why I will shortly be proposing a new, expanded program for road and sidewalk improvements — to pave and improve miles of roads and many sidewalks that are in dire need of this important work.

And there are some specific projects that deserve our investment, especially for the economic reasons that I said. That is why I will be proposing new investments that will:
  • Complete the Broad Street reconstruction.
  • Ensure that the downtown streetscape project will be complete, and
  • Improve the South Main Street corridor.
Of course, another important investment in a good quality of life in neighborhoods is having an active and professional police force.

Despite the financial challenges we faced when assuming office, we have already been able to move forward with the process of putting additional police officers on the streets.

But the Police Department I inherited faced tough challenges. The department was down more than 40 officers from the full strength of 165, and faced difficult challenges and bad news that harmed morale for a department filled with qualified and dedicated officers.

We now have new and strong leadership at the helm — and new officers on the way. I could not be more proud of our men and women in uniform and the leadership of Chief Wardwell. They have endured through some challenging circumstances, while simultaneously yielding impressive results.

What has been achieved is striking.

Crime is down, overall, this year — and down 4% since 2010. But for the more serious crime, it is even more impressive. Crimes against persons in the past two months are down 45% from the same period last year.  Our new Shooting Task Force, increased traffics stops, more efficient administrative procedures and community policing have made New Britain a safer place to live and do business.

We have not had a murder in nearly a year — down from 3 the previous year. This happened because of the good work of our Police Department and because of the importance we have placed on revitalizing the department and restoring morale.

The significant financial challenges we had 16 months ago — the deficit, the unfunded costs of the new police station, redundancy and inefficiencies in what was then 22 city departments, have shaped many of the decisions we have had to make.

But the budget that I proposed and the Council approved maintained public services in our city without raising taxes. We achieved this through the most sweeping and significant reorganization of our city government in our city’s history. We consolidated 22 city departments — often with redundant and overlapping functions — into six departments.

Since the Council enacted the reorganization ordinance, much work has been done to make these departmental consolidations a reality in the actual operations of the city. Many efficiencies have already been realized and many more are still being achieved.

In the new Public Works Department, workers who used to repair vehicles and equipment in different city departments now work together and are doing a better job together. And the recent blizzard disaster our city went through showed the value of having workers who used to be part of four different city departments working together to serve the public.

Under the new Finance Department, the public has one place to go, rather than different places, to pay taxes and water bills. And financial management is done in one department, rather than being divided, as it used to be, among three different departments.

Among the ways that these consolidations have achieved savings for the taxpayers has been by allowing fewer workers to be able to maintain the services that a larger number of workers used to provide. The early retirement incentive that I instituted during my first year as Mayor, and the savings it achieved, was made possible because of this.

There is certainly more work ahead in bringing the departmental consolidation to fruition in all of the new departments, but we have already accomplished much.

Another problem my administration faced was that the Police Station project was millions of dollars underfunded. Unless we acted, the construction of our new state of the art police station would have come to a grinding halt. I proposed and the Council approved the funding that finished the construction of our new Police Station.

And right now our police station is the envy of surrounding towns — and we’re finally updating the city’s emergency radio system, a project decades overdue.

There’s much more work yet to be done. We can say, though, that because of our actions over the past 16 months, we are headed in a better direction.

We are new again in the process of creating next year’s budget. As I said last year, let me be clear about this coming year’s budget: We will not raise property taxes. Last year, We did not raise taxes, and this year, in the budget I propose, the amount of tax revenue will not be increased.

Often, elected officials look at just two approaches to balancing a budget — raising taxes and cutting services. We proved a third approach exists. My administration reduced the costs of government by millions of dollars a year through consolidations and increased efficiencies. The budget we approved last year actually decreased the amount of spending below the level of the budget I inherited. All the while we are focusing on the long term benefits of growing our economy and growing jobs.

In order to see meaningful and continued progress, We’ve had to change the ways things have traditionally been done. Much of the work wasn’t easy — change often isn’t as convenient as it is necessary. Collectively, and for our future, we have made tough and important choices to benefit all of New Britain.

Our common efforts have already produced positive results, and I thank the Common Council for their efforts and their collaboration.

But there is so much more that needs to be done. The challenging times that we live in are exactly the moment when we need to be rolling up our sleeves to do the things to build a better tomorrow for ourselves and coming generations.

Too often, people choose difficult times as the moment to stick their heads in the sand, cower and hope for the tough times to pass. They look at tough budget challenges and say that we must do less to maintain and invest in their communities. But I believe that communities that adopt a head-in-the-sand policy during these times will find that their belief in doing less will only result in falling further behind.

We cannot allow that to be New Britain’s course.

That is why we have to have the courage to invest in a stronger economy that creates good paying jobs and makes for a more vibrant community. That means that we need to invest in our infrastructure and parks. And it means that we have to invest in our next generation by investing in education. It means that we need to have the courage to insist on a good quality of life in our neighborhoods and not allow our residents to be used and abused.

It means that we have to be creative, bold and forward thinking. It means that we have to try new ideas and innovate. It means that we have to challenge old assumptions and ways of thinking.

If we have the courage to be bold during troubled times, our community can prosper into the next generation and beyond.

Our city can be a world leader in high-tech manufacturing and other business, with the prosperity and prestige that comes with it.

All of our neighborhoods can be welcoming places to live and nurturing places to raise children — and our schools can be among the best in the state.

Our city can take its rightful place as an important center of community life, arts and culture.

All of these things are possible for our city, if we have the vision and exercise the will and hard work to make it happen. That is the course that I will continue leading this city toward. And, with your help and support — and the common effort of all of New Britain’s people — we can achieve it.

So, tonight, I say to you, the state of the City of New Britain is one of renewal and progress — of moving forward. While there is still much work ahead, now is the time that, together, we will make the future of New Britain brighter for everyone.

God Bless you, God Bless the City of New Britain!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Safety and service needs as the blizzard recovery continues

Message from Mayor Tim O'Brien:

This message is to inform you of specific concerns as well as services related to the snow storm.

First, with the current rainfall, there are precautions you may wish to take concerning the added weight to snow on roofs.  If possible, clear any large snowfall and make access to gutters.  If you have any known leakage, particularly to areas of your residence where there is electricity – such as between walls, shut off the area circuit breakers and notify the City’s dispatch number at 860-826-3000 to arrange for an inspection for any fire hazard.

Please also make certain that your home’s Carbon Monoxide and Smoke detectors are in working condition.  Be aware that carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas that can buildup in your home.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can be deadly.  Please test the battery in you smoke and carbon monoxide detectors by pressing and holding down the button located on the cover of the devise.  Smoke detectors should be located on every floor of your home including the basement.

Be sure to visually inspect the outlet of your dryer and furnace vents that may be located near ground level to assure that they are not obstructed by snow.  Remember that snow may fall from the roof and cover the vents during the coming days, please be sure to re-inspect the area frequently.

Secondly, if you have a need that is not a 911 emergency that is storm related, such as transportation to medical care, prescription medication, or food, please call the City’s dispatch unit at 860-826-3000.  Community Services Department Staff are available to provide assistance and support until 5PM today and throughout the storm recovery period.  There are also trained nursing and mental health professionals if you have a serious but not life threatening condition.  As always, in any serious or life threatening condition please use the 911 system.

As Mayor, I want to be certain that you are safe and well during the recovery process of this unprecedented storm.  I also want to assure you that City personnel are available to assist you with any important need that you have.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blizzard disaster recovery update for New Britain

Message from Mayor Tim O'Brien:

Dear New Britain Residents,

The Blizzard of 2013 we just experienced dropped 30+ inches in New Britain in less than one day.

To put this in perspective, that is more snow than fell during the Blizzard of 1978. Even the winter two years ago that produced so much snow did not dump this amount in such a short period of time. And, it’s important to note that cities such as Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and some surrounding towns are experiencing the same challenges associated with this disaster.

This is a natural disaster situation. Even though city crews have been working to clear snow, round the clock, even before the snow began to fall, please do not have the expectation of things returning to normal within normal snowstorm timeframes.

Such a significant amount of snow over a small period of time has prevented city plows from breaking through the snow and have been getting stuck.  We have had to use payloaders and construction equipment to remove snow before plows can gain access.  We have requested additional assistance from the state and National Guard to expedite the cleanup from this natural disaster.

The city has first focused on priority roadways such as main streets and arteries. City Public Works is working with city crews and private contractors to excavate the snow from streets to enable plows to access them. Plows cannot even get onto most streets until this is done.

While I hope to have most streets open for basic travel access today or tomorrow, conditions are proving even more difficult than expected. Depending on the difficulty of the snow excavation ahead, some streets may not be plowed until Tuesday. And please be aware that streets will not be fully cleared for perhaps a week or more.

Although you may not have seen a plow on your street, city crews have been working around the clock and will continue to do so until the snow is cleared. There is a massive amount of snow to move.

Of course, making sure that the city residents can be reached by medical, fire and police emergency responders is top priority, and the city Public Works crews are coordinating with emergency responders to get emergency response to all sections of the city.
Important information for residents:

  • Call 911 for emergencies only
  • Call 860-826-3000 if you are at risk and need assistance due to the storm
  • Schools will be closed Monday
  • Due to the mass of snow, garbage collection will not occur this week. Garbage collection will resume next week, and, for that week only, you may use your recycling bins for trash.
  • The state has seen an increase in carbon monoxide poisoning incidents.  Please clear any snow from outside vents to prevent build up in your home.
  • For safety when driving, please stop at all all intersections - even those without stop signs or stop lights - and please do not drive over 25 MPH on any road.
  • The parking ban will remain in effect until further notice, as this is necessary for clearing snow and allowing emergency personnel to have access in cases of emergencies.

Thank you very much for your patience and for pulling together as a community during this extraordinary disaster.

Please stay safe.


~Mayor Timothy O’Brien

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Getting the streets plowed after the big storm.

Message from Mayor Tim O'Brien:

The historically large snowfall from the Blizzard of 2013 has made it very difficult for many cities and towns to clear snow from their roads.

In New Britain, city crews have been working around the clock, under difficult conditions, since during the storm, to clear the snow.

As of right now, it looks like city streets will be opened by snowplows sometime tomorrow (Sunday).

With the massive amount of snow, the clearing has been tough and slow-going. To get the city up and running, the city has been clearing the major roads first and working to the neighborhood streets.

The job is so large because of the historic snowfall that the city workers actually have to use payloaders in addition to plows to clear the large amount of snow.

And because there is so much snow to be removed, it is going to take time to completely clear the streets. It is a tough job, given how severe this storm was, and other cities and towns are experiencing similar challenges.

But city workers and I are working very hard to return things to normal.

I sincerely appreciate your understanding.

Working to dig out from the historic blizzard.

Message from Mayor Tim O'Brien:

The Blizzard of 2013 has produced a historic snowfall. Throughout our region, it has left streets and highways difficult, if not impossible, to drive.

City crews have been working very hard around the clock to clear the snow from our streets - a job that will take some time to finish.

Please, for your safety, I would urge you to stay home and off the roads.

I would also urge you to be careful in removing snow from your driveway and sidewalk. Please do not overdo it when shoveling. And please be very careful when operating snow-blowers.

Also keep in mind that the city parking ban will remain in effect throughout Saturday and maybe into Sunday.

By the way, something that you can do that can protect your home is to shovel snow from fire hydrants near your house.

City workers and I are continuing our round-the-clock work to ensure your safety and get our city dug out and through this historic storm event.

Thank you very much for your patience and for pulling together as a community.

Be safe and take care.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

News from the City on the expected blizzard.

Message from Mayor Tim O'Brien:

A major winter storm is approaching Connecticut. This is a large storm that will impact New Britain with potential blizzard conditions for a period of 24 hours from mid-day tomorrow (Friday) to mid-day Saturday. New Britain is expecting heavy snow with winds of 20-30 MPH. One to 2 feet of snow is expected. Power outages are likely.

Here is some important information:

  • Due to this storm, schools will be closed tomorrow (Friday)
  • There will be a parking ban in effect beginning tomorrow at tomorrow (Friday) 6am. Towing of cars will occur to allow plows and emergency vehicle access to all streets.  

 Free parking will be available at the following locations during the parking ban:

  • Osgood Park
  • Stanley Golf Course
  • Quonset hut parking lot at 655 Slater Rd.
  • City parking lot on Main Street between NBPD and the CCSU ITBD building.
  • City parking lot at Wildwood St. & Linden St. (next to Police substation)
  • Washington Park (lot opposite Gold Street)
  • Martha Hart Park
  • City parking garage - (Bank St./Chestnut St.)
  • City parking garage - (Columbus Blvd. at the corner of Washington St.)

Here are safety and other tips you should keep in mind:

  • Have food, water, flashlights and a battery operated radio available.
  • Charge all cell phones.
  • Check on elderly and at risk neighbors and relatives.
  • Stay informed, listen to storm information.
  • Do not use candles for lighting, use flashlights.
  • Do not use propane or charcoal grills indoors for any reason.
  • Make sure generators are kept outside away from the house.
  • To report fallen trees and wires, Call 860-826-3000,
  • To report fire, police and medical emergencies, call 9-1-1.

Thank you very much for your cooperation and please be safe !

Friday, February 01, 2013

Free income tax preparation available for many city residents at HRA.

Message from Mayor Tim O'Brien:

I wanted to take a moment to let you know that the Human Resources Agency offers free tax return preparation services for city residents with incomes under $50,000 a year. Please feel free to let anyone you thing could use this help about this service. Here are the details:

Free Income Tax Preparation Available in the City

Free income tax preparation for low to moderate-income individuals and married couples, making at or under $50,000 a year, will be offered at various locations in New Britain from Monday to Saturday, through April 15th. Tax returns are completed by appointment only and taxpayers must bring all necessary documentation to their appointment. Please call the Human Resources Agency at 860-612-3983, Monday through Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm. The tax preparation service is a part of the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program of the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). The program is coordinated through the New Britain Asset Building Coalition; operated by the Human Resources Agency of New Britain (HRA), and funded in part by the IRS and United Way of New Britain and Berlin.

Free Tax Preparation Site Listings:

HRA North Oak Community Center                       Tues, Wed, Thurs. 3:00pm-8:00pm
35 Oak Street                                                         Saturdays 10:00am-3:00pm

HRA Energy Assistance                                          Thursdays 5:00pm-8:00pm
336 Arch Street                                                       Saturdays 10:00am-3:00pm

HRA Youth Services Center                                    Mondays 1:00pm-4:00pm
58 Scarlett Drive           

HRA Ben Franklin Early Childhood Center              Tuesdays 2:00pm-6:00pm
180 Clinton Street

Community Central (in partnership with CCSU)     Tuesdays 9:00am-1:00pm
117 West Main Street  

Friday, January 25, 2013

College Goal Sunday

There will be an exciting event happening this Sunday at New Britain High School from 1:30 - 4:30 p.m. to help local young people with the college financial aid process.

College Goal Sunday is designed to help high school seniors and their families fill out the forms that are required to apply for financial aid.

At College Goal Sunday, students and their families can get expert help filling out the federal financial aid application.  The American Savings Foundation is the sponsor of College Goal Sunday in New Britain.

For more information visit or call 860.827.2572.