Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kayak Launch Supported and Parking Director Gets Shot at Melilli

The Economic Development Committee lent its support to a land transfer in exchange for kayak launching, a parking garage on Melilli Plaza instead of the arcade, a tax abatement, WiFi on Main Street, and renewal of a contract for lobbying in Washington.

Kayak and Canoe Launching
The EDC unanimously supported the transfer of city-owned land to Paul Szewzyck, in exchange for access to the river through the back of Szewzyck's land at 161 Johnson Street, and construction of an 8 vehicle parking lot on city-owned land. Under the deal Szewzyck would receive title to 172 Johnson Street, an 80' X 136' lot adjacent to the rail line which crosses Johnson Street in front of the City's recycling station. Szewzyck would provide a conservation easement on a portion of his land, that is adjacent to (and in some seasons even within) the river.

Richard Kearney, Economic Development Specialist in the City Planning Office, told the EDC that the city-owned property is worth about $30,000 and that after Szewzyck built a vehicle maintenance building on the lot, he would be paying between $2500 and $3500 in taxes to the

In exchange for this city-owned lot, Szewzyck would also pave an 8 car parking lot adjacent to the Johnson Street Pumping station (the small brick building which houses a sewer pump), and he would create a 370 feet path from this parking lot to the river, for the purpose of launching canoes and kayaks into the Coginchaug.

John Hall, Director of the Jonah Center and long-time proponent of improving Middletown's connection with the rivers which course through our city, expressed his strong support for the land swap. "There are only two places [in the city] on the Coginchaug where you can access the river without excavation." He said that the city had rejected the other option, on the North End Peninsula.

Tax Abatement For LEED Certified Building on Industrial Park Road.
Tall Properties, LLC, was granted a tax abatement for their Centerpoint Office Condominium project which will be built to LEED silver standards of environmentally responsible construction. Leonard Leibenhaut, Manager of Tall Properties, applied for a tax abatement and a waiver of the building permit fees, under a city program to promote development. Attorney Ralph Wilson represented Tall Properties at the meeting.

A member of the EDC asked how much the building permit would cost, and Kearney was unable to provide that figure. Despite this, Tall Properties was granted the permit fee waiver. In addition, they were given a substantial tax abatement, which is based on the dollar value of the improvements to the lot. Over the first 4 years, Tall Properties will pay just $78k in taxes, instead of the projected taxes of $267k. Following those first 4 years, Tall Properties will pay the full rate.

Hartley to Present Melilli Plaza Parking Garage Idea to council.
The EDC voted to move a resolution to the full Common Council which would direct the City to design a Parking Garage on Melilli Plaza instead of on the currently planned arcade behind the police station.

Parking Director Tom Hartley told the Committee that parking demand and supply made Melilli a more logical choice for a multi-level parking structure, and that it would be easier to construct such a parking garage if the arcade remained functional during construction. Moreover, he said that if the arcade was not rebuilt with federal dollars, it would not be required to be public, making it available for private development.

Hartley as well as the councilmen agreed that the arcade needed maintenance to make it safe for the next 5 years, in addition to whatever was done on Melilli.

Other actions
The EDC lent their support to the renewal of the contract of Panuzio and Giordano Public Affairs, for lobbying in Washington on behalf of Middletown. Their fee of $24,000 per year will come out of the economic development fund.

Kearney told the councilmen that it would cost about $100,000 to demolish three blighted houses, 2 on Wadsworth Street and 1 on Portland Street. The EDC voted to have them boarded up and asked the Planning Office to get detailed quotes on the demolition.

Marie Kalita-Leary, Director of the Downtown Business District, told the Commission that the Downtown Business District would pay about $7,000 to restore WiFi coverage to the part of Main Street which is currently covered. The EDC voted to spend about $14,000 to expand the coverage nearly "church to church," with 14 new transmitters north of Washington Street. The money will come from the economic development fund. Roughly the same amount of money, previously set aside for cable access on Industrial Park Road, will not be spent.

Kearney said that Harbor Park Restaurant was still under the same management as before, that the closing for sale of the lease was not yet complete. He speculated on the reason why there might be a delay, "This is the season to make money." Daley suggested that the sale of a lease for Harbor Park is a "complicated thing."


Anonymous said...

is this a Press headline goof/parody? "Parking Director Gets Shot at Melilli"

fishmuscle (Stephen H. Devoto) said...

Any goof/parody was unintentional, the result of sleep-deprived neuronal malfunctioning. However, given the incredulity that has met Mr. Hartley's proposal to revisit what is being done with the Melilli Plaza, perhaps there is a double meaning to be found.

Anonymous said...

The Harbor Park issue is because Frank does what he want to do. Middletown dropped the ball. They should have known what his lease said regarding the one year notice. I did. Now Frank is laughing his way to the bank. I bet 10 to 1 that in fall, Frank will want to continue into the holiday, and then into next year. Funny thing is, when he knows his butt is on the line, Harbor Park is quiet. It was totally in his control the whole time to control the noise, but he chose not to. Now, he's watching his arse. Just proves to me, after all these years, how obnoxious and obstainate he really is.

Anonymous said...

yeah revisit, spend a million this now and tear it up in 2 years to build a garage...

Bill said...

Congrats to the city for what seems like a reasonable deal to create more river access. The kayak launch is a great idea.

Of course, I'm very worried about plans for Melilli Plaza. Are they going to erect a multi-level parking eyesore that will further deteriorate views of the river? So much for a nice dinner on the deck at ION, or looking out the windows in the lounge at the Firehouse. Just a view of more concrete and cars.

If the city was smart they'd make the garage underground, and replace the tunnel to HarborPark with a pedestrian bridge OVER Route 9. We need to be reconnecting with the waterfront, not erecting more concrete between Main St. and the river.

Anonymous said...

I'm not impressed with this parking garage sky scraper idea either, but then we were the ones who hired a guy from out of town who doesn't necessarily understand what this community values.

Sarah-Jane Ripa said...

I 100% back Bill's suggestion - any way to get this idea in front of the committee? A pedestrian bridge and access to the river would be an amazing addition to life in Middletown.