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.
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."