James Dyer Interview

Dublin Core


William Devlin and Herbert Janick interview James Dyer about his time as Danbury Mayor, and the prosperous developments he oversaw, such as the construction of Danbury Fair Mall. Dyer also discusses his time as a student at WSCU, meeting Ruth Haas, and being on WSCU's Board of Trustees.




Oral History Item Type Metadata


1hr, 48mins

Time Summary

0-10 mins: What Dyer was trying to accomplish; City at odds with itself; Education not funded properly; 1979 in bottom 25 % of cities; Spent one million dollars on pavement in the first year; Fired timothy Sullivan and city planner; Danny Garmello from Henry Abbott Tech was great with public works; Dyer professionalized the city, said he wanted to “awaken the sleeping giant known as Danbury”; Past mayors; Division within Republican Party; Help from WestCONN and Trinity volunteers; Why he left the Democratic Party;

10-20 mins: Kenosia Diversion for drought; Reopened wells on Rosewell Street; 6 million feet of corporate retail went up in 10 years; Construction of the mall; Driving around the city and going to all events; Downtown problems starting in the 50s; The Mall’s construction and what it meant to Danbury; Founding of downtown tax district; Requests from constituents for retail;

20-30 mins: NewsTimes praise and condemns; Historic Preservation Form at Palace Theater; The Nolan Plan; Taxes and revenue growth; 5 year plan - boosted education budget; Fallout from redevelopment a mess; Loses in 1987;

30-40 mins: Jerry Spyre came up and looked at plans; Louis Di Febrenez suggested to make it a park; A looking down at downtown; Raised the rate in the landfill, started out-of-town landfill ordinance and installed security cameras, Jimmy Galante brought Brewster’s trash to Danbury's landfill, Dyer had Galante arrested, landfill fee became dedicated fund; Landfill fire; Dirt supplier shortage, 300,000 in damages;

40-50 mins: Used to have a staff meeting with department heads, chief of police, and chief of fire; Brought neighborhood crime watch to city; Joseph Bertalis Fire Department; Brought in new in from outside;

50-60 mins: Danbury prosperity; Catching up and embracing any project in exchange for revenue; Leadership Danbury with Boughton; What makes Danbury different from other cities in Connecticut - the hospital, WestCONN, corporate sector, etc.; Danbury contributes 10 percent of all tax revenue in the state; Supporting economic development and investment in the community; Racial tension in city, Klu Klux Klan flyers, rally supposed to come to Danbury, Dyer called religious leaders to teach about the history of the klan, Dyer receives death threats, community rallied;

60-70 mins: First ordinance Dyer signed for Martin Luther King Day; Promoting Danbury; Ethnicity in Danbury; When a company leaves a city; Tax abatement; Responding to complaints to build credibility;

70-80 mins: Election night, ’79; His strength with Republican constituents; Debates with Boughton; Dyer’s speeches; Fire services and resources; Being a legislator versus being an administrator; Why he did not run for congress;

80-90 mins: Dyer talks about his father; Dyer and WestCONN; Dyer meets with Ruth Haas; Ruth Haas nominates Dyer as trustee;

90-100 mins: Working on the Board; Rape at Southern; Dyer and his appointment as legislator; Chairman of Higher Education Subcommittee; Student trustees; Forums;

100-108 mins: Speaking in front of an audience; The media and Danbury; The NewsTimes and Dyer’s engagement; Dyer and Boughton;


Devlin, William E., 1949- and Herbert F. Janick. “James Dyer Interview.” Danbury's Third Century Research Collection, MS058. WCSU Archives, 9 July 2019. Accessed on the Web: 22 Jan. 2020.



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