A Gubernatorial Endorsement…….for Avery’s Soda of New Britain
Governor Dan Malloy, boosting tourism in Connecticut stopped at Avery’s Soda in New Britain last week. From left Avery’s owner Rob Metz, State Rep, Betty Boukus (22), State Senator Terry Gerratana and Governor Malloy. (F Gerratana photo)
African American Political Forum Thursday, July 31st, At Trinity On Main
New Britain’s African-American elected and appointed officials and other city leaders have been invited to participate in the African-American Political Forum scheduled for Thursday July 31st from 6-8 p.m. at Trinity On Main, 69 Main Street.
Sponsoring organizations include the New Britain branch of the NAACP, Spottswood AME Zion Church and the New Britain Black Democratic Club.
The forum was started last year when speakers and participants discussed a wide range of community issues from youth development to quality of schools to jobs and economic development. Appointed commissioners, elected officials and political party leaders were provided with an opportunity to share their views and perspectives at the open forum. Organizers are hoping for a similar dialogue this year.
An organizer of the event said that African-American participation on city boards and commissions has gone from more than 30 individuals appointed during the O’Brien Administration to 15 or 16 during the first year of the Stewart Administration.
Voter registration will be available at the event and attendees will receive the African-American flag, according to Ron Davis, NAACP President.
CITY HALL WATCH………..
Council Meets On $2.1 Million Tax Break For Costco August 7th; Alderman DeFronzo Opposes 11th Hour Request For Abatement
A Stewart administration proposal to grant Costco warehouse store at the Stanley Golf Course a $2.1 million, seven-year tax abatement will go to a special Common Council hearing and meeting on August 7th at City Hall
Debate over the 11th hour tax break is growing with opposition from both opponents of the store’s development and supporters who want a Costco in New Britain with its promise of 220 jobs. In a further complication Costco would not agree to the asking price of the firm controlling the adjacent Target Store for sharing of an access road. Target’s land owner is now requesting a tax abatement of its own in a snag involving the two retailers and not the city.
The proximity of the shopper-rich West Farms Mall and I-84 lured Costco developers to the public golf course site more than three years ago during the administration of former Mayor Tim Stewart.
Mayor Erin Stewart, in a statement released to the New Britain Herald July 10th, said an abatement is needed to break ground this summer because “delays” have increased development costs of Costco beyond its “maximum allowable budget.”
“The years of delay, due primarily to 1) the sheer complexity of the deal, 2) protracted negotiations among Costco, the city and third parties and 3) government red tape, the project is now $2.1 million over Costco’s maximum allowable budget,” said Stewart in calling for approval of the tax break
Alderman At Large David DeFronzo, however, at a Democratic Town Committee meeting July 24th and in a July 23rd Letter to the Editor strongly opposed the abatement stating “none of the problems that have surfaced since 2011 are the city’s fault or responsibility. In fact, representatives of the company, the public and members of the council identified virtually all of these issues at the time the proposal was put forward. At that time, former Mayor Stewart and Costco officials ruled out the need for any city financial assistance. For Costco to now demand a tax break from the city is a classic “bait and switch” move. They lured the city in with promises and then just as the deal was about to be completed, they announced the need for a tax break.
“Let’s be clear, DeFronzo continued, “the issue before the council and the mayor is not whether the Costco deal should go forward. That has already been decided. Council members and the mayor can whole-heartedly support the plan to build Costco while opposing a tax abatement. The question now is whether to give a multi-billion-dollar international corporation tax breaks at the same time city residents are being hit with an 11-percent increase in their tax bills.”
Paul Zagorsky, in a July 11th letter to the Herald, raised additional concerns about traffic and road issues related to building Costco on Hartford Road.
“The first (not the last) thing that should have been addressed is access,” wrote Zagorsky. “Did they (Costco) assume Target would cooperate and provide access, at a cost Costco (and not Target) felt would be appropriate? If they did, any costs and expenses incurred since 2011, without having first secured access and/or addressing the Route 71 traffic concerns were at its peril and cannot be the basis for tax relief.
“Second, it is unclear whether all the required approvals have been obtained from the Department of Transportation to widen the road and install a traffic light to provide site access. Traffic concerns have been an issue from the outset.” Zagorsky cited a May 2011 Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency report “which was not made available to the City Plan Commission when it decided the Costco zoning matter in June of 2011.” The report states in part: “Route 71 near the parcel is nearing capacity according to DOT figures. The state’s latest Traffic Accident Surveillance Report (TASR) identifies Route 71 north of the parcel as the most dangerous segment in the region.”
In his opposition to the project Zagorsky stated “consideration of any tax abatement must take into account the life span of a proposed development. This is a big box store which has a shelf life I estimate to be approximately 25 to 30 years. A seven-year tax abatement amounts to 25 percent of its lifespan. That is unacceptable.”
First Fundraiser Held For 65th Infantry Regiment (Borinqueneers) Memorial Park
Joined by veterans and members of the 65th Borinqueneers (front row) State Senator Terry Gerratana (back left) and State Rep. Bobby Sanchez supported the first fundraiser to establish a Memorial Park for the famed 65th Infantry Regiment of Puerto Rican soldiers. The event was held at the Frosty Mug near the monument site at Beaver Street and Farmington Avenue. (F. Gerratana photo)
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