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City Council Approves Sale Of Golf Course Property To Sacred Heart, Sludge Deal With Trumbull

June 7th, 2016 · 35 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, City Council, Development and Zoning, News and Events

golf course aerial

Aerial of Sacred Heart campus with the wooded golf property it seeks along the Black Course of Fairchild Wheeler, at right and below dotted lines.

The City Council by a 15-3 vote Monday night approved the sale of eight acres of Fairchild Wheeler golf course property to Sacred Heart University for $4 million that will allow the university a larger footprint to build on campus proper without developing the park land beyond basic maintenance. SHU needs the extra land to accommodate Fairfield zoning regulations. Fairchild Wheeler is owned by Bridgeport but located in Fairfield.

North End City Council members AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia, Michelle Lyons and Tom McCarthy voted against it. SHU’s dramatic growth has created a scratchy relationship with North End neighbors, especially as a result of partying students placing a burden on the city’s public safety. While campus proper is in Fairfield, some SHU dormitories and extended campus sit in Bridgeport. The transaction required 14 votes for approval because it involved the sale of park land. McCarthy, the City Council president, had said prior to the meeting that he understood the rationale behind the deal but had reservations, per the City Charter, that the money could be shifted into the city’s general fund instead of invested in park development. The additional revenue was not factored into the new budget year that starts July 1.

Deed restrictions prevent Sacred Heart from developing the golf course property, according to lawyers representing the city. Associate City Attorney Lisa Trachtenburg says there’s precedent for park sale funds going into the general fund going back to the early 1990s when the state purchased Beardsley Park and Beardsley Zoo from the city.

Sacred Heart, under the agreement passed, will also build six tennis courts at Veterans Memorial Park across the street from the campus on Park Avenue with access to city residents.

“This deal is very sensible to all involved,” said Mayor Joe Ganim in a statement. “Through this agreement, Sacred Heart gets more of a geographical footprint in Bridgeport which it needs in order to build more on its campus in Fairfield. The building that will result from this sale will also benefit the North End of Bridgeport as more students will be able to be housed on campus. The funds obtained will also benefit the taxpayers of Bridgeport while the land and the public’s access to it are also forever preserved. There are also many city residents who will get much enjoyment out of using the new state of the art tennis facility. It is a great deal that makes a lot of sense and I am grateful for our city council’s carefully considered, thoughtful action endorsing this idea.”

The council also approved by a 13-5 vote an agreement with the Town of Trumbull to resolve a dispute regarding fees the town pays Bridgeport for processing its wastewater.

Under the agreement already approved by Trumbull the town will pay Bridgeport’s Water Pollution Control Authority $1,373,196 in full settlement of all unpaid Trumbull sewer use charges for the period of July 1, 2012 through February 29, 2016.

Trumbull has sewers but no wastewater treatment plant. Its sludge has been processed in Bridgeport going back to the late 1960s.

Council members McCarthy, Lyons, Vizzo-Paniccia, Richard Salters and Mary McBride Lee voted against the agreement.

At the start of the meeting South End council member Jack Banta announced on a point of personal privilege that he was protesting the council session because Ganim has not appointed an African American to replace the retired Brian Rooney as fire chief. Banta made his point and then walked out of the council chambers.

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35 Comments so far ↓

  • Frank Gyure

    LOL. As I predicted. IN A BLINK, THE GANIM MAFIA FLEXING THEIR POWER.

    • Phil Smith

      This is what happens when you have a City Council whose members are picked largely on the basis of their willingness to do whatever the mayor wants. The rubber stamp worked exactly the way it was supposed to. Disappointing, but hardly surprising.

  • Frank Gyure

    Further Ganim Mafia, continuation of the Finch fiasco. I had some financial difficulties with paying the car tax. My car was booted and towed within 24 hours. MID-LINE TOWING is getting their money as part of the Ganim Mafia. THANK YOU, Kathryn Bukovsky, CITY COUNCIL REP 130th district.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Frank, didn’t I warn you about that right here on the blog not too long ago? Now tell us that time you complained about me posting the tax record of Andy Fardy here on the blog was because you were afraid I was going to post your delinquent car tax. By the way if my mind serves me right, you are Frank Gyure Jr. That’s one of the consequences or dangers of using a real name on blogs like OIB. The Finch Administration went as far as using the Police to try to silence me. Local Eyes was sent to try to buy marijuana from me in front of Police Commissioner Danny Roach’s bar. I lost three used vehicles to Finch. One was towed by Mid-Town Auto. I purchased the van from John Alfano my former supervisor who after I paid him $600 for the van failed to give me the title. After I painted the van and fixed it up nicely, I found out there was a lien on it and Alfano had taken a loan and used the van title as collateral and that’s why I could not sell it or register it. About a month later, I went into to the Police Dept. garage to do some cleaning and lo and behold my van is there and the mechanic there had washed it and put a city of Bridgeport license plate on it. For the last six months at least, the van was parked at city hall parking lot with plate number 28 on it. I told this true story to the guys at Booking a few weeks ago. I stated I was going to report the matter to Internal Affairs. I went and took pictures of the van and of the VIN numbers. Someone in Booking tipped someone off and within days the van disappeared. I’m positive the city never had the title as it had a lien on it and it takes years to get title to an abandoned vehicle by the towing company. I had given the police officer (now retired) who towed the vehicle the keys. I will post the picture of the van on my Facebook page and put up the link.

      • Frank Gyure

        LOOONG STORY. Joel Gonzalez, I remember that discussion very well. We were talking about our good buddy, Chuck Paris, and posting tax amounts here on OIB. You warned me about being careful what I say and I understood the message you were giving me. I’ve lived in Bridgeport all my life so I have been probably paying car taxes for a solid 35 years. NEVER LATE. I’ve owned a house for the last 19 years paying property taxes on that. My next total tax bill for Bridgeport will probably be around $11,000. So Bridgeport gets a fair amount of money from me. I have no problem paying taxes. That’s how governments get income to provide for services such as police, fire, sanitation etc. I had a house fire and I owe a particular debt of appreciation to the Bridgeport Fire Dept. The amount of taxes and whether or not is another subject. Some people use various strategies to avoid paying taxes, especially registering a car in a non car tax state. That is wrong. But sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes people lose jobs and are forced to juggle bills until they get their feet on the ground. Most entities will work with a person until a person gets a job. Every level of government needs to have means of collection powers but it should be commensurate to the degree a person could not pay taxes or used fraud to avoid taxes. In other words, the punishment should fit the crime. Back when we had our discussion about Chuck Paris and posting taxes online, I was somewhat more naive and thought things could be worked out. I had heard stories about the boot and tow issue and also that people were complaining about aggressive tactics such as foreclosure by the WPCA. I will make it public, I indeed had my car booted and towed. What I have learned since then is this is a vicious scam between City Hall and their hired vulture, MID-TOWN AUTO. Soon after the car was towed, I got a phone call to get my car or I would be arrested. The number that was left was out of service. I’ve learned about the arrest of Charles Valentino last summer and the scam about hunting tax delinquent cars and all the shady stuff that happens with these towing companies. I learned amount Vio-Alert and the money they get. At that time, Charlie Mason, owner of Mid-Town towing said it was not a big deal, it’s not a moneymaker for him and he only does it a couple of times in a year. Looks like Charlie Mason changed his mind. I called Mid-Town Towing and they hung up on me. Apparently, this was a big enough issue that Lydia Martinez began a process to change ordinances concerning booting/towing and the WPCA foreclosure strategy. This was started with the December 7, 2015 Common Council Meeting and was referred to the Ordinance Sub-committee to create a more formal and “fair” process dealing with car-tax delinquency and WPCA foreclosure with the view that the previous tactics were not fair and not right. The Ordinance Committee first met January 26,2016 and tabled any activity. It was brought back up March 22, 2016. Along with the Ordinance Committee the following were also present; Thomas McCarthy and several other CC reps; Angel DePara CAO dept; Ken Flatto, Finance Director; Russell Liskov, City Attorney’s Office; Steve Walker WPCA; Veronica Jones, Tax Collector; Tom Gaudett, Mayor’s office; Mark Anastasi, Attorney’s Office. The minutes to this meeting are available on the bridgeportCT.gov page. THE BOTTOM LINE; FLATTO, ANASTASI and LISKOV were able to bully and intimidate the Ordinance Committee TO DO NOTHING. So we are still left with the boot/tow scam between City Hall and Mid-Line Towing and the WPCA foreclosures. BOTH WILL CONTINUE TO STEAL PROPERTY FROM THE PEOPLE OF BRIDGEPORT. I AM SORRY TO EVERYONE ABOUT POSTING SUCH A LONG POST BUT I AM NOT A HAPPY CAMPER. THANK YOU.

        • Lisa Parziale

          Frank, I read every word of your post and it’s disgusting that Bridgeport, with a great percentage of poor people, are subjected to such cruel laws. What possible excuse could this Ordinance Committee have not to have taken action that would have created a public hearing, by law where aggrieved individuals could tell their stories? This is heartless, it never would have happened in my day and my council colleagues.

  • Phil Smith

    Lennie,
    How does this settlement compare to the one brokered last year by Judge Barbara Bellis?

  • Frank the Cabana Boy

    McCarthy voted against it! Can I get an Amen? Not fooling anyone with the recent “Found Jesus” BS. So entertaining though. Keep it up, I may cancel my Cable.

    • Frank Gyure

      Of course McCarthy voted against it. He’s trolling for Trumbull votes. Trumbull-ites who are pissed off about the WPCA will think they have a savior in Tom McCarthy.

  • BARF

    He also voted against the SHU land grab to support the 134th! I just don’t understand how they are giving away Veteran’s Park though.

  • Ron Mackey

    McCarthy’s vote was a throwaway vote, he knew on both votes the council would pass overwhelmingly so there was no price to pay with his no vote.

  • Bob Walsh

    Tommy Mac could not flip two votes on the City Council. You have got to be kidding me. He needs to resign immediately. He has proven he has no leadership skills whatsoever.
    Could not get two members to stay home.
    Joe Ganim has taken away all all of McCarthy’s influence. He might as well resign today and get it over with. He is a mere shadow of what he once was.

    • Lisa Parziale

      He never had influence, Finch did!

      • Bob Walsh

        Lisa, I don’t want Tommy crying in public, for crying out loud.
        He didn’t need influence. He always did whatever the mayor told him to do, whomever was mayor at the time.
        That is why Trumbull loves him. He is not independent, he will do whatever he is told to do by whomever tells him to do it but because of that he cannot be effective because he will be pulled in every direction.

        • Lisa Parziale

          Just maybe the voters will remember his blatant conflict of interest for so long. I hope his opponent spends a lot of time reminding people. I look back and still shake my head at the arrogance he displayed, just while laughing in the face of the law. Then to add insult to injury, this administration rewards him with a payout to get him off the payroll. Gutless cowards!

      • Phil Smith

        Lisa,
        As you know better than most, you could say that about just about every Mayor and Council President for at least 40 years. A Council President’s power is directly related to the support (or lack of it) of the Mayor.

        • Lisa Parziale

          Phil, with all respect to your past memory of Council Presidents, you’re wrong. I served as Council President with Tom Bucci (2 terms) and G1 (5 terms) and my effectiveness never rode on the backs of those Mayors. I was independent, never conflicted, and had no need to be liked or accepted by them. I was elected by my colleagues with no interference from the administrations. I challenge you to disagree. I’m offended by your comment.

  • Frank Gyure

    Thomas McCarthy Fundraiser Tuesday June 7th at Firehouse Pizza in Black Rock from 6pm. Time and place to tell McCarthy to get his ass out of Black Rock.

  • Frank the Cabana Boy

    McCarthy has a mil rate to answer for in Black Rock. Let the fun begin.

    Every vote he casts on the City Council is creating a deeper hole and he is taking Burns and Bukovsky with him.

    130th Council members, separate yourselves from McCarthy now or suffer the consequences of a tradeoff in peace in your lives. People are pissed. And yes, they are pissed at you. Your job is to represent the constituency, not fold under pressure.

    • Phil Smith

      I’m confused. Both Bukovsky and Burns voted for the park sale and for the sewer deal. What’s your point?

      • Frank Gyure

        My understanding of Frank the Cabana Boy’s remarks are, IN GENERAL, Bukovsky and Burns have voted with the rest of the puppets led by McCarthy/Ganim et al. The sewer/SHU deal was an anomaly. IMHO, McCarthy voted against these deals so he could look like a white knight in his Senate race.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Good luck with your wish. You don’t know or fully understand Black Rock when it comes to its politics. At the end of the day or every election day to be more specific, you get what you elect. This applies to all 10 districts.

  • BARF

    I think this Veteran’s Park deal could be as simple as the children of CC members, or the Mayor, will go to SHU!

  • Steven Auerbach

    McCarthy Fundraiser tonight at 6:30, Firehouse Pizza, Black Rock, Fairfield Ave.

  • Frank Gyure

    HELP. I’m LOOKING FOR ANTI-McCARTHY BULLET POINTS TO DISTRIBUTE AT HIS FUNDRAISER TONIGHT.

  • Bob Walsh

    Was paid over $1 million while working for the city in conflict with the charter. Round numbers. At least $100K for more than 10 years.
    Was member of the Airport Commission AND City Council President and allowed the approval of $600K driveway for a Stratford resident who is a contractor for the city of Bridgeport.
    Allowed misuse of council stipends for himself and other council members.
    As Council President failed to obtain outside budgetary assistance/counsel resulting in a $20 million deficit with Finch’s last budget.
    Quietly sat back and did not advise the council of the implications of not voting on the Supervisors contract thereby giving himself, Finch and most of Finch’s inner circle huge retro paychecks and inflated severance pay.
    Using knowledge he had from his paid job, negotiated severance pay for 6 months and medical benefits for 18 – 24 months.
    Just off the top of my head.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    To me, this is the most ironic statement. “McCarthy, the City Council president, had said prior to the meeting that he understood the rationale behind the deal but had reservations, per the City Charter, that the money could be shifted into the city’s general fund instead of invested in park development.”

    So McCarthy all of a sudden cares about what the city charter says??? He ignored the charter for years and collected a paycheck from the city while also serving on the CC. HOW COULD ANYONE TAKE THIS GUY SERIOUSLY??? McCarthy invokes “the charter” and its rules when it benefits him, and ignores it when it doesn’t.

  • Mojo

    *** Are we surprised by the high votes in favor of both deals? Of course not! *** The land deal with SHU for $4 million is a slam-dunk for the city, however the deal with Trumbull, I really don’t know enough about to make an educated guess of “yes or no.” ***

  • Ron Mackey

    Lennie, would you provide us the 15 City Council members who voted yes?

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