History of the land
The land in question was purchased by the General Hospital for the Insane of the State of Connecticut, in a series of transactions between 1866 and 1949. The Hospital, now known as Connecticut Valley Hospital (CVH), used much of the land as a farm for its own use until World War II. In 2005, the State gave the properties to the City, with a restriction in the deed that would preserve them as open space. Currently, the properties include farm fields and forests. The properties are abutted by a few houses, mostly on their western borders. To the east are the forests of Maromas, which have remained largely undeveloped due to its rugged terrain.
This spring, the City granted an easement across some of the land to the Buckeye Pipeline company, for them to run a fuel pipe to the new Kleen Energy plant. Bill Warner, City Planner, told the Economic Development Committee (EDC) at their June 9th meeting that the pipeline project would clear much of the area, suggesting that it would be a good time for the city to see what interest there would be in developing the land. The EDC then voted to advertise an RFP for the site.
Solicitation of proposals
The RFP clearly delineates the restrictions on the land. The State deed restricts the use to "agriculture, parks, natural areas, forests, camping, fishing, wetlands preservation, wildlife habitat, swimming, hiking, or other active recreational purposes." The parcels are zoned R-45 (residential lots of greater than 45,000 square feet) and RF (Riverfront). Those zones allow, by Special Exception, "parks, playgrounds, playfields, golf courses, boating areas, community building, developed open space, such as arboreta, botanical and zoological gardens and similar recreational uses." The RF zone allows, by Special Exception, marinas and boatyards.
There are quite extensive requirements for proposals. These include:
- A description of the developer's business plan and the proposed future use(s) of the property
- Anticipated investment in the property
- Letters from Banks and other financial institutions demonstrating the developer's financial capacity
- A $10,000 fully refundable deposit (bank check or letter of credit)
Active recreation is prominently featured in the RFP, "Active recreation is usually a structured (organized) activity requiring the use of physical facilities. Activities in this category include, but are not limited to, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, dog parks, golf courses, playgrounds, and boat ramps."
An 18-hole golf course was proposed nearly 50 years ago for some of the land that is the subject of this RFP. This course, which would have included all of parcels 3 and 4 in the map above, is no longer possible because some of the included land is now the site of Middlesex Community College. However, according to a 2007 report from the Planning Department, the combination of parcels 3 and 4 with parcels 1 and 2 would be sufficient for an 18-hole course. The report also sketches out other possible uses such as baseball and soccer fields.
Evaluation of proposals
The deadline for proposals is July 31st. All proposals will then be reviewed by EDC before going before the full Common Council.