Monday, July 28, 2008

Rosa Delauro convenes a meeting on the Army Reserve Training Center

Representative Rosa Delauro invited Westfield residents, city councilors, and the owners of the property coveted by the Army, to talk about the proposal to build an Army Reserve Training Center on Boardman Lane in the Westfield section of Middletown.

Because it was a private meeting, I agreed not to report on the meeting itself, but only on the press presentation which followed.

Delauro reported that at the meeting Westfield residents, and others from Middletown, council members, the mayor, Sebastian Giuliano and Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, discussed and debated the proposed Army Base. Westfield residents oppose the siting of the training center in Westfield for a number of reasons, from environmental and traffic concerns, to questions about the economic impact of the base. New concerns about water, sewer and flood issues surfaced.

At this point Delauro, Giuliano and Bysiewicz are all opposed to building the training center on the site in Westfield. All cited the intractability of the Army, and their lack of communication on the topic, as problems in solving the siting issue. Delauro and Bysiewicz are also amenable to having the training site built outside of Middletown, while Giuliano stills supports building the training center on one of three city-recommended sites, a site adjacent to the Pratt and Whitney plant on Aircraft Road, a site next to the Kleen Energy plant on River Road, and a site behind an auto junkyard on Saybrook Road. All three sites are technically in Maromas.

Delauro has promised to lobby Secretary of the Army Geren, and along with Bysiewicz has authored a letter to Governor Jodi Rell, who is commander-in-chief of the Connecticut National Guard, and may have some influence in determining where the training center is built.

The press conference drew all four local TV stations, two newspapers, the state TV station CTN, and at least three radio reporters. Delauro, Bysiewicz, Giuliano (the three political leaders who are most deeply involved in the issue) and Jennifer Mahr, a representative of the Westfield Residents Association addressed the gathered reporters. Then a parade of less-directly-involved, though concerned, politicians including state representatives Ray Kalinowski, state senator Paul Doyle and state representative Joe Serra (who was not at the meeting with residents because of a dental appointment), took the opportunity to express their opinions for the gathered press. Also in attendance was state representative Brendan Sharkey who represents governor Jodi Rell's push for smart growth.

It's become clear that the Army will have a fight on its hands if it insists on the Boardman Lane site, but it's not clear whether they will abandon Middletown, or reconsider building on brownfield sites.

The Middletown Common Council meets on August 4th to consider a resolution which will oppose the Army Corps of Engineer's choice of the Westfield site.

As Mayor Giuliano indicated, that to make the site buildable, "thousands of tons of trap rock will be shifted into wetlands. If the city had asked the Corps of Engineers to approve the site for the building of the new high school, they would have stopped us."


Stephen Devoto said...

It is not correct to imply that the state representatives who were at the press conference were simply making a grandstand appearance for the media. Ray Kalinowski and Paul Doyle have been very supportive of Middletown's efforts from at least the beginning of the Boardman Lane chapter of this saga.

Anonymous said...

Whee-yew, what a vast amount of political spew! Gag me with a spoon, a media frenzy in City Council Chambers, attended by our saintly elected officials. This group definitely does not put their pants or panty hose on one leg at a time. Self congratulatory speech after self congratulatory speech after self congratulatory speech, highlighted by the Mayor's assertion that smart growth had been practiced in Sicily for hundreds of years! Farms are for flat spots and buildings are for rocky promontories... Hhhuuummmm. Hard-working and supportive politicians notwithstanding,this wqs not a pretty performance! Ggggguuuurrrrrrr...

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Huh, what? Comment deleted. It must have deliciously juicy...I should have known that early to bed would leave me unwise. This will teach me to keep The Eye Open!

Anonymous said...

Throw Me a Bone

How long can everyone from the Governor on down continue to pass the buck on this issue? Odds are, until after the Base is built on Susan Byciewicz's family farm! Governor Rell deferred to the DEP and Gen. Thad. Martin for the first attack on Freeman Road. The spineless General deferred to the Army Corps of Engineers and the DEP. Commissioner Gina McCarthy actually pulled the trigger and made a stand armed with the ammunition in its arsenal, the MOU granting first refusal rights should the property ever be offered for sale. She says, she will buy it! Who is the hero here? It certainly is not the Governor or the General. Why should we expect something different now?

Also, it is disgraceful to see the City Officials pulling out all the stops to prevent this particular bad site being taken while promoting their own bad choices elsewhere. Piggybacking on Westfield's legitimate objections is all well and good now but what about the future? Where is Larry McHugh and his pious NIMBY speech today?

Arguing over the relative merits of these sites is not only divisive and unproductive, it also frightens and distracts from the larger issue of how the siting of a large Federal and State Consolidation should be implemented. We should all urge the Governor to take command and demand a Regional Search for the Armed Forces Reserve Center!

Jasper Cane

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

In a late night fit of pique, I wrote a comment that was far nastier than it had to be.

The gist of it was that a one hour meeting which was designed to get input from the public, was monopolized, for a full half of the meeting, by politicians, who were adding little new information to the debate.

In general, I find the political posturing distasteful, and the political need to speak, at all costs, hilarious and maddening in equal parts.

The politicians involved demonstrated true concern, but also an acknowledgement that the WRA is a powerful voting block.

BTW, in the Middletown Press this morning, Sloan Brewster wondered, legitimately why the press was kept out of a public meeting, and why she was tossed out. If one more councilman had been at the meeting, it would have been an official meeting of the town council, and there would have been no argument. The press deserves to feel slighted.

Anonymous said...

They should have thrown Big Bad Ed McKeon out rather than Sweet Little Sloan Brewster!

So much pap,puffery and posturing, so little sense and substance make it a good test of virtue not to have a fit of pique at any time of day! Besides, great minds sometimes work best under pique. Sloan Brewster's well-written, interesting article was quite fiery in addition to being comprehensive and accurate.

Anonymous said...

This whole fiasco points out the reasoning behind BRAC. The idea was to leave the politicians out of it along with the NIMBY and BANANA crews. The politicians did get wording to put the base in Middletown. Perhaps it was to give an advantage to Middletown. They probably had hoped to showcase the base during an election cycle to voters as what she could do for Middletown. Now they are screaming foul because they need to pander to the voters that don’t like it…oops! DeLauro and Bysiewicz were especially galling with their remarks.

After looking at the site plan, maps, zoning and the plan of conservation and development the Boardman Lane site is suitable for this project for the following reasons:

-The land is zoned industrial.
-The land is not and never was intended by Middletown to be preserved as farmland.
-The site has excellent accesses to I-91. Two or three traffic lights will handle the extra traffic and the Army probably can be influenced to widen roads as needed.
-The wetland issues are minor. I have seen much more significant wetlands paved over in Middletown.
-Water and sewer issues are political in nature. I know that public works can provide water and sewer to this property. It has been planned long ago as the property is zoned industrial.
-The location to passenger rail exists nearby in Meriden. The proximity to I-91 makes it accessible to bus, rail and auto.
-A shuttle bus between the site and downtown could enable city residents to take advantage of jobs.
-This is not sprawl. Sprawl is building something outside of established transportation corridors and in areas where planning and zoning suddenly changes to permit development. This site is long established as industrial and is in an established area of development and transportation.
-Traffic patterns would not be typical weekly 9 to 5 but would be off hours when the roads are less traveled.

If Middletown wants to preserve farmland it better start rezoning land now. This will preserve farmland. If you want to preserve farmland don’t zone it industrial or anything else but farmland. This is a simple thing but contrary to the tax scheme that municipalities follow; which is to up zone land in pursuit of tax revenue.

Does anyone really expect to put this base anyplace in Connecticut that won’t meet local opposition? The only place it could be put would be a remote location away from transportation and a central location. That would then be sprawl.

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

I think I've been insulted. I think.

Barrie said...

I posted a letter to Secretary of State Susan Byciewicz this morning to make sure that I had registered my opinion regarding the best way to help the Army find a good spot. Because I had included some old correspondence and a photo of my walk on the River Road site, I went to the Post Office on Silver Street to make sure there was sufficient postage for the fat envelope. Whenever I am in line at the pleasant PO, I begin a reverie of the long gone Hubbard School and how I learned to read, spell and play dodge ball in the exact same spot as I am now buying a stamp! Little did I know then that 50 years in the future I would be putting some of these skills to work, imploring the Governor to help find the right place for an Army Base. So far, the Governor has not paid much attention to the reading and spelling but maybe I could challenge her in dodge ball!

argos said...

Some people never give up beating dead horses. The city "leaders" originally welcomed a base that would open up Maromas to development. Sewers could be extended to the south and big box stores could be built on southern Saybrook Road. The army, unfortunately for these political and commercial interests, rejected their Maromas suggestions as a place for a base. (Land too rocky or covered by a conservation easement.) Now instead of twirling their mustaches and saying "curses, foiled again," they are trying to use the Westfield opposition to using the Boardman Lane site to once more drag in the dead horse and see what another beating can accomplish.

Anonymous said...

Vermin and Varmints

These thoughts, in response to misguided and pathetic effusive praise (toady, fawn, bootlick, suck up,ass wipe) for for all the politicos at the press conference, mirror my own.

"Pollyanna! If you lie down with these dogs you will get up with fleas. The City selected sites are as poor as the Boardman Lane site. It is downright wrong for the Mayor and our elected City officials to promote these unscrutinized Maromas sites and use their Office to take advantage of fearful people by dangling an anti-Boardman Lane position to the desperately seeking help Westfield Residents. You seem like a better person than that. Do not rely on these unprincipled, development-oriented folks for protection/conservation of something you love, like a little farm on Boardman Lane. They are willing to give up our Connecticut River frontage despite the Conservation Commission's recommendation to the contrary."

Jasper Cane