Tuesday update: That’s it. I’m done.
So says developer Sal DiNardo who told OIB Monday afternoon he had divested himself of interest several weeks ago in a company (RemGrit) that controls the former Remington Arms plant on Barnum Avenue where city fire personnel are trying to contain a blaze that began on Saturday.
DiNardo says RemGrit was placed into bankruptcy court several months ago after he was unable to reach agreement with city officials on a condemnation plan that would have included the city forgiving millions in back taxes he says he inherited when he gained control of the company.
“The city can take the property,” DiNardo said. “I no longer have an interest in it. They should have let me tear it down.”
DiNardo says over the past year he and attorney Chuck Willinger had several conversations with city officials about a plan to demolish and clear the site. DiNardo claims he had agreed to performance standards, in exchange for the city forgiving back taxes, that included $3 million of his own money to clear the site over approximately a two-year period, in addition to $100,000 a year to the city for 10 years, as part of a remediation agreement.
DiNardo says as far as he’s concerned the city can officially take the property at the next hearing of the bankruptcy court. It’s unclear what action, if any, the city can pursue against DiNardo (protected by a limited liability company) as a result of the latest fire that’s sapping fire personnel. One thing’s for sure, it’s a mess and a costly one to manage and clear. And the finger-pointing has started about responsibility for the site. Emergency demo crews are taking down two buildings on the site to aid fire personnel, but that represents a small portion of the complex.
Officials of the Environmental Protection Agency are in a cranky mood over this and they’re asking lots of questions about responsibility.
DiNardo says he doesn’t understand why Mayor Bill Finch did not approve a deal with him to clear the site. City officials close to the negotiations say they thought they had a deal to present to the bankruptcy judge to approve a plan that included the site as a second train station for the city, something the mayor wanted as part of the deal. One of the sticking points, however, involved the timeframe involved in turning the project around. What happens if DiNardo fails to meet the timeline specified in the performance outline?
When the city reviewed the paperwork submitted by DiNardo’s lawyer the terms of agreement did not match up with the city, and an agreement was not reached on the performance standard.
DiNardo had been a supporter of Finch for many years, someone the mayor counted on for campaign support. Sal is the brother of Democratic State Party Chair Nancy DiNardo. It appears Finch wanted to create some distance from DiNardo, for voter-relations value, who had contributed thousands of dollars to him in Finch’s various runs for public office.
(Full disclosure: in the spring of 2008 DiNardo hired me to write and produce a radio and television campaign that included promotion of city destination points sponsored by his company Peter DiNardo Enterprises, and his remediation of a portion of the former Bridgeport Brass site now occupied by United Rentals. My radio and television work on behalf of DiNardo started and ended with those projects in 2008.)