Written by Michael P. Walsh
WEST HAVEN, CT — City and state officials, including West Haven Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, state Rep. Dorinda Borer and DMV Commissioner Michael R. Bzdyra, heralded the opening of Connecticut’s first DMV Express — a Department of Motor Vehicles license and ID card renewal center — in West Haven City Hall on March 28 under a new program in which municipalities provide certain DMV services. The center is the first of several considered for New Haven and Fairfield counties, Bzdyra said.
Services include driver’s license renewals, changes to a verified license that meets the Real ID Act, duplicate licenses, and name changes. Customers, however, will need to visit a DMV office for new licenses, CDL licenses, and registrations, officials said.
The new center, open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, is the DMV’s first fully managed center under municipal direction. Sponsored by the city, it is operated by the West Haven Chamber of Commerce in the lower level of City Hall, 355 Main St.
Rossi said she is looking forward to the center attracting new visitors from around the state to West Haven’s downtown area.
"My vision would be for visitors to come in and get their business at the DMV center squared away, and then see what we have to offer from restaurants, shopping and service," Rossi said. "We see new businesses expressing interest already, and the licensing center will be a kickoff to a true revitalization of our downtown."
The effort is part of DMV’s program to replace eight AAA offices that withdrew in 2016 from offering DMV services in Fairfield and New Haven counties.
Borer, D-West Haven, helped spearhead the initiative after seeing the strong regional need when AAA Northeast ended its DMV affiliation.
"This is a win for West Haven and residents in all the towns surrounding us," Borer said. "It connects our residents to state services in a convenient way. The entire region will benefit as we play a part in easing the congestion in the Bridgeport and Hamden branch offices.
"Our city also has a terrific opportunity to bring foot traffic to our downtown area."
Establishing alternative locations to DMV offices is critical for the agency, with Fairfield and New Haven counties being a priority, Bzdyra said.
"West Haven is the first center to open in this area, and we are looking at others," Bzdyra said. "We look forward to having more Express Centers shortly, and West Haven has led the way to make that happen."
Alan Olenick, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said his organization is proud to help usher in the service to the city.
"We look forward to providing strong customer service with efficiency and convenience for those who do not want to visit a DMV office," Olenick said. "We are proud to be operating DMV’s first independently run municipal site."
(Photo 1) West Haven Chamber of Commerce examiner Nancy Smith expedites a verified driver’s license renewal March 28 for city resident Bob Nugent, the first customer of the state Department of Motor Vehicles’ new DMV Express in West Haven City Hall. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
(Photo 2): Officials from the city, state and West Haven Chamber of Commerce celebrate the opening of Connecticut’s first DMV Express — a Department of Motor Vehicles license and ID card renewal center — in West Haven City Hall on March 28. From left, Councilman Aaron Charney, D-3; City Council Chairman Ronald M. Quagliani, D-at large; Councilwoman Tracy A. Morrissey, D-8; chamber Executive Director Alan Olenick; state Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven; Mayor Nancy R. Rossi; chamber President Alexander Cuevas; state Rep. Charles J. Ferraro, R-West Haven; DMV Commissioner Michael R. Bzdyra; Janet Reynolds, DMV division chief of branch operations; DMV Division Manager Mary Santangelo; and DMV Chief Operating Officer Jim Rio. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)