Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Bysiewicz property deal proposed
In a Thanksgiving holiday eve meeting, Middletown's Economic Development Committee entertained a proposal from City Planner Bill Warner to encourage development on Liberty Park, known in town, and to the Army Corps of Engineers, as the Bysiewicz property.
The property, on Middle Street, is one of three the Army Corps of Engineers is still considering for development for an Army Reserve Training Center. The city would prefer the selection of Cucia Park for the Training Center.
Warner's proposal comes after learning that a Berlin manufacturer would like to purchase three or four parcels on the Bysiewicz property to expand a manufacturing plant which would employ more than 100(with expansion in the next three years), and bring annual taxes of approximately $123,ooo for the proposed 70,000 square foot building.
The problem is that the manufacturer has been spooked by the Army's interest in the land, and is afraid to proceed without assurances that the deal will go through. The developer is unsure of taking the "bird in the hand" of three developed lots, when the Army holds out the promise to buy all twelve lots.
After negotiations with the landowner, Warner has proposed three alternate deals to encourage the manufacturer and developer, and to assure that the Army would not, and could not take the property for it's Army Reserve Training Center. Under the terms of the primary deal, Bysiewicz would inform the Army that he was no longer interested in selling the property (thereby ending the Army deal for the property). In return, if the Army purchases Cucia park, the city would provide tax abatements for all the Bysiewicz property, with the added incentive that the city would buy an additional development lot at fair market value, sweetening the deal for Bysiewicz.
According to Attorney Michael Dowley, representing Bysiewicz, "This agreement would not be completed unless the city sells Cucia Park to the Army. To me it's something that really works for the city."
Gerry Daley, chair of the Economic Development Committee, the deal "precludes the possibility that the Army will take this parcel, that the city will lose the opportunity to develop it and collect taxes, and it immediately encourages this commercial development."
Asked how this proposed deal might be greeted in Westfield, Westfield Residents Association President, Arline Rich said, "I like the proposal. It closes out the Army on the Bysiewicz property, and emphasizes the sale of Cucia Park."
Warner also proposed two other scenarios which proposes that the city buys lots from Bysiewicz, if the development deal with the manufacturer fails to gel on a timely basis, to prevent the Army from occupying prime industrial property, and preventing taxable development.
Committee member David Bauer, who supports the plan, asked for specific details, such as value of the proposed property, warning that a deal which is too open-ended might commit the city to expenditures it can't afford. Daley suggested that language in the proposal which hinge on the purchase of Cucia park by the Army, provide the necessary escape clause.
Officials declined to identify the potential manufacturer from Berlin.
The committee voted unanimously to send the proposal to the Common Council for consideration at its December meeting next Monday.