DeFronzo: “Unanswered Questions” On COSTCO plan to take over city park land

Ward 4 Ald. David DeFronzo, who voiced strong objections to a zone change allowing a proposal to use park land for a COSTCO store earlier this month, has reiterated his opposition in a statement released on June 16th.

The Common Council will take up the zoning change at its June 22nd meeting.

DeFronzo’s statement:

For over 150 years – until now – through Republican and Democratic administrations alike, New Britain elected officials have had the good sense to protect and preserve our precious parks. Through the Great Depression, through recessions and through repeated economic downturns, mayors and council members have had the courage to say no to the destruction of our park land.

The plan to sell city parkland to Costco is bad for New Britain. It repudiates our long standing values and is a clear admission that the city lacks a cohesive, well thought out economic development policy. With well over 70 acres of developable land at Pinnacle Heights and on Myrtle Street and with dozens of vacant properties available for development, the city council is asked to endorse a plan that will permanently alter A.W. Stanley Park. Is that the best we can do? And does anyone think that once we go down this path that the redevelopment of our parks will stop with A.W. Stanley?

City officials need to proceed with a great deal of caution when considering the Costco proposal. There are certainly a number of unanswered questions pertaining to this plan, including increased traffic congestion, environmental issues and quality of life concerns. Last week, Attorney General George Jepsen indicated he would be seeking information from the mayor and corporation counsel to determine whether or not the sale of this property is even permissible. At a minimum, any action on this plan should be postponed until all sides have all the available information. Any action beyond this would be irresponsible and not in the long term interest of the city.

This has nothing to do with being pro-business or anti-business; it has everything to do with exercising good judgment and being good stewards of our limited natural resources. Just last year the City Plan Commission – citizens appointed unilaterally by the mayor – designated A.W. Stanley as New Britain’s most valuable open space and identified it as such in the City’s Plan of Conservation and Development. What has happened in the last six months to change that?

The Stanley family set this land aside for use as a park in perpetuity. It continues to be needed and it is used by hundreds of people every week and the intent of the deed is clear. Alix Stanley had it right in 1927 and he remains right today. Those who say this development won’t change the park system are clearly mistaken.

Every so often an issue comes along which defies partisanship. This is one of them. I urge the people of New Britain and my colleagues on the Common Council, from both parties, to stand up for New Britain values, to protect our parks and to say no to the plan currently before us.

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5 Responses to DeFronzo: “Unanswered Questions” On COSTCO plan to take over city park land

  1. Bob Pleines says:

    Way to go Dave! Very well put. if we had a couple of other Council members take a stand and speak out like you, we’d definately have the Mayor thinking twice.
    Obviously the public outcry is already making him look at an alternative plan that would leave the park intact, but still allow Costco on Golf Course land, and that is still unacceptable to me. No pulic Land should be touched at all.

    Thanks again Dave, and thanks to all those who are working thier own strategies to preserve our parks and thier heratage.

    Bob Pleines

  2. Aram says:

    I second Dave’s statement. Costco was already once in New Britain only to leave it in a few years. Who guarantees us that the same won’t happen again leaving us with yet another vacant lot. Also, if you check on Costco record, you find out that it is seeking to build in other locations where there are wetlands and wilderness. Other communities in Connecticut are rejecting them why should we yield to them. One of the biggest assets of New Britain is its parks. We should further develop these parks instead of demolishing them. Furthermore, only 10% of Costco workers are unionized, so the jobs (if any) Costco would provide to New Britain residents are marginal at best.

    • Whether or not this will be moderated or censored I have no idea. But it is ridiculous that Aram seems to think that “non unionized” jobs are “marginal”. Plenty of American workers hold non-unionized jobs with wonderful salaries and benefits. It shows how lockstep and brainwashed the good doctor’s thinking is.

  3. Well said, Mr. DeFronzo.
    One of my concerns is the very real potential for traffic gridlock if we can’t persuade our elected officials to re-think their favorable view of this proposal.
    I have also witnessed the impact that a recent residential development (Bradford Walk) has had on area wildlife. We have wild critters traveling through our back yards to find places to live. If we alter more woodlands, where will they go?

    I own a condo on Brittany Farms Road, and do NOT want to drive New Britain Ave./Hartford Road with the 18 wheelers making deliveries to the Costco warehouse. How much additional land will the State have to take from A.W. Stanley Park to widen the 2-lane road for this jumbo box store? The Brittany Farms community has 4 condominium complexes, two large apartment complexes and the Brittany Farms Health Center. And all of the residents have only ONE entrance/exit — onto Hartford Road. Right now, with Sears anchoring the east end of New Britain Ave./Hartford Road (“the malls road) and Target anchoring the west end, plus Route 9 north and south emptying onto this road, there are many days when the volume of traffic creates impossible travel delays for local residents.

    Has a formal Impact Study been done to aid the decision making process?
    I certainly hope so.

    Stay strong, Mr. Defonzo. Now that information is finally reaching the community, you have many people who share your concerns.

    Pat Lindsey

  4. Why would a traffic or environmental impact study be conducted before a simple zoning change? Typically these studies take place later in the process.

    However, a State Traffic Commission study would be required in order for the development to be approved at the state level. Smaller developments don’t trigger a STC study, but the size of Costco would require one. Improvements would have to be made on the developers dime before construction could begin, so this has the potential of solving much of the traffic congestion experienced in the area.

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