The city council's Economic Development Committee dealt with a large agenda at its monthly meeting Monday night. Some of the highlights:
30 PORTLAND ST.
Director of Planning Bill Warner said that preparations were being made to demolish the vacant house at 30 Portland Street, which the city acquired through foreclosure. He said "a lot of people say it's going to collapse". That prompted member Tom Serra to say that the city is liable in case the building does collapse. "This should be an emergency situation," he said. Councilman Joe Bibisi noted the roof had partially fallen in and he was concerned about any heavy rain. "We own it, and it could all fall on Portland Street."
Chairman Gerald Daley said the building department, fire marshal or other authority should officially determine the building's safety. Bibisi noted that the building was boarded up for security. There was some question as to which city department would pay for the demolition. The committee unanimously approved a resolution to make the demolition a priority. Warner later said he would request a $30,000 appropriation so work could begin.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE JOB PROGRAMS
Jeff Pugliese of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce appeared before the committee to request funds for two jobs program. The Worker Preparation Program provides job seekers help such as resume consulting, mock interviews, help with dressing professionally, and networking through chamber contacts and functions. The committee unanimously approved $7500 for the program, as it had last year.
Pugliese also asked for $30,000 to support the chamber's "Youth @ Work" program. The program, primarily funded by Workforce Alliance, placed 37 Middletown teens in jobs last summer. Last year the city originally provided $20,000 for the program. It then provided an additional $7000 to match the $27,000 in private funds the chamber was able to raise. Pugliese said that "city support definitely sparks private donations." He said that the chamber hopes to raise even more in private donations this year. The committee unanimously approved a resolution to recommend that the Mayor propose the funding in his budget.
As previously requested, Warner provided the committee with a report detailing the history of the "South Cove"section of the riverfront. The land will become available for development after the decommissioning of the current sewage treatment plant there. Warner said there has been great interest in future of the land. Bibisi suggested that members visit the Norwich Harbor area, a similar area which has been developed with a miles-long walkway.
LONG HILL ESTATE
Connecticut Underwriters, which rents space from the city at the Wadsworth Mansion, has a new lease. Any rental leases for the Long Hill Estate property must be approved by the Common Council. The committee unanimously voted to recommend the council approve the new lease. Said Daley "You couldn't ask for a better tenant."