Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Citizens Advisory Panel Member Unhappy with Delauro Response

Stephen Devoto, a member of Middletown's Citizens' Advisory Panel on the proposed Army Reserve Training Center, is unhappy with State Representative Rosa DeLauro's response to Army Secretary Pete Geren's interpretation of BRAC law.

According to a letter Devoto sent to fellow committee members and town leaders:

I am extremely disappointed that Congresswoman DeLauro can even think about accepting the obtuse and illogical stone-walling from (Army Secretary) Geren...Geren did nothing but parrot the same "absolutely none of your business why we think that" statement that we have heard from Dale. I can't believe that DeLauro waved the white flag without a whisper of protest.

DeLauro's response to Geren letter was released by her office. In it, she said:

I am encouraged by the Secretary Geren’s willingness to work with the Middletown community as we move forward with the siting and construction of the Armed Forces Reserve Center. In its response, the Army maintains that the language is clear on Middletown as the location...It is through open communication that we can ensure the community is fully involved in this process and provides Middletown’s citizens with greater input. Clearly, we all want to avoid the frustration that was experienced earlier this year. This week’s public meeting will provide both the Army Corps and the citizens of Middletown the opportunity to review and discuss those sites which have been recommended by the Mayor’s advisory panel.

While he sat on the site advisory panel, Devoto is still of the opinion that a majority of Middletown's voters are against the construction of the army facility on property in town. In the letter he writes:

If there is anything that unites all of your constituents, it is a recognition that the army base can only be a destructive drain on our resources. Do any of you think that an army base on ANY site in Middletown would be approved by a vote of the people (considering that a high school was defeated)? There will be no cheering if Cucia Park is sold, there will be cries of pain and anguish that we were forced to choose a bad option, just because the alternatives were so much worse.

In addition, Devoto underscores the opposition to the Army's legal manuvers from Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who reject the Army's interpretation of BRAC law. They both insist that the Army publically share its legal opinion. Although both Blumenthal and Bysiewicz concede that a new facility is needed, and could be built in Middletown, on an appropriate site.

From the Bysiewicz letter:

Correspondence on the topic can be found here.

Finally, Devoto feels that he has found the Army's precedent for its Middletown decision in a similar case, with different BRAC language in Ayer Massachusetts, where a similar consolidation took place, and where BRAC language specifically cited Ayer, without the predominat if clause ("if the Army is able to acquire land suitable for the construction of the facilities") which appears in the law regarding the Middletown location.

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