Fire At Vacant Remington Site, 60 Firefighters Respond, Arson Suspected

From the CT Post:

Two separate fires that broke out at about the same time in the old and long vacant Remington Arms factory Tuesday morning is leading officials to suspect arson.

The blaze that burned through the top two floors of a five-story brick building and a smaller blaze in the complex further down Barnum Avenue “would indicate a suspicious origin,” Deputy Chief Robert Petrucelli said.

A building across the street broke out in flames about two hours after the main blaze, but officials could not immediately say whether it was a third point of origin or set off by embers blown from the main fire.

Full story here.

Remington fire Doing It Local
Firefighters on scene. Photo courtesy of Doing It Local.

The buildings along Barnum Avenue have been ravaged by numerous fires throughout the past decade. Remington sold its Abrasive Products business and the Barnum Avenue site in Bridgeport to RemGrit Corporation in 1986, according to Remington’s corporate history. In recent years most of the site has been controlled by a limited liability company led by developer Sal DiNardo who announced he would take down the buildings if the city waived back taxes. The city went to court to enforce payment of back taxes on the property. DiNardo had the LLC placed into bankruptcy court.

A portion of the property negotiated in court has been turned over to the city for a proposed train station with a waiver of back taxes. Last year the city secured $2.5 million in state funding to demolish a 57,600 square-foot manufacturing building and an 8,800 square-foot boiler building.

In July, calling a second city train station “Bridgeport’s next evolution,” Governor Dan Malloy visited the city to announce $2.75 million for engineering, design and environmental permitting in support of Barnum Station, an initiative proposed by Mayor Bill Finch and State Senator Andres Ayala.

Barnum station
Rendering of Barnum Station provided by governor’s office.
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42 comments

  1. The real question is Why are those buildings still standing? Why? Why, why? Did someone think a developer would have a use for them? The neighborhood would miss them? They would add a nice contrast to the railroad station? It might give a potential developer an idea of what could be? The area needs to be reminded at one time that neighborhood flourished? Because we do not have an anti blight department? Raze them and let’s get moving with some development. Marine Village replacement townhouses?

    1. Come on, Stevie boy. You know why they are still standing. Because Uncle Sal owns them. And the city won’t tell him what to do. I’m guessing Uncle Sal wants the city to tear them down on the city’s dime, place a demo lien on the property and then watch the demo lien disappear.

      1. Okay Bob, so if the secret is out and we all know the game then just knock them down before somebody gets hurt. Make the land available and let’s get a developer. Let’s bring some life to that horror. Complement the train station. There is a lot of land and brownfield in the area. I see great things once the area is cleaned up. Bridgeport has very few major development parcels on contiguous acreage. This can be a blessing in disguise for the City, put these parcels on the tax rolls even if it means Sal DiNardo gets a break. Get over it!

  2. They are getting a $3.5mil grant to do a study if a new rail station makes sense. How about using that money to clear all that land of these huge eyesores and built affordable single-family homes for the low-income to purchase? When will they understand appearance to people is major? You drive around this once-great city and it’s ugly ugly ugly. Spend the money getting rid of all the eyesores.

      1. Bob,
        Can you comment on property in the City with tax liens, please? It has been my understanding that when a property falls behind in paying property taxes (and/or WPCA payments), liens can be placed on the property that cause interest to be charged and fees of various types to be paid in addition to the taxes or sums owed to clear the property title.
        At some point the City decides they want the funds and they package such properties and sell them to a third party for a lump sum fee for the City today. There is a six-month period before such properties can be sold or auctioned when the owner can settle, but after that it is essentially in the hands of others.
        From what you have reported, the RemGrit property continues to generate a tax bill and assorted other fees or expenses, but all of these disappear after 15 years because of a statute of limitations. Who decides what properties will be sold and which retained? Is there something special about the RemGrit property or title that has delivered it from such auction or sale aside from a politically connected family name? Time will tell.

  3. These buildings will stand as long as Sal DiNardo wants them to stand. The city will do nothing of substance to get these buildings torn down. We are doing a dance in court with this guy but no one is rushing for a judicial judgment. In the meantime the clock ticks and DiNardo is free of more taxes because of the statute of limitations.
    The city is going to wait until a firefighter is killed at this site before they do anything.

    1. Sad but true, it will take a firefighter getting killed there before something might be done. Firefighters still have to breathe in toxic smoke that nobody knows what’s in it.

  4. A study is being funded by a regional $3.5 million Sustainable Communities grant. The study will determine whether a station could fit, be viable and successful on city-owned land at 812 Barnum Ave., part of the former RemGrit site adjacent to the railroad.

    Is this a $3.5 million HUD Grant??

    While DiNardo keeps fighting this out in court, his buildings keep burning to the ground and Mayor Finch keeps cashing DiNardo checks!

    If this is a Hud Grant now they have a chip in the game!
    The State should take the Remington property (RemGrit) by Eminent Domain Now!

    State of CT statutes that authorize the use of eminent domain or condemnation.

    14. DOT can take property necessary for the operation or improvement of transportation services, in the same manner as for state highways (CGS § 13b-36).
    15. DOT can take any airport, restricted landing area, or other air navigation facility owned or controlled by a municipality or other person if necessary to maintain adequate air transportation in the state or for public convenience or safety. But DOT cannot take a facility owned or controlled by or used as part of research, development, or manufacturing activity without consent. DOT can take an interest in certain land, buildings, equipment, or facilities sold, leased, or granted in a state airport or state airport site (CGS § 13b-42).
    16. Before DOT approves the layout of a railroad or the taking of any land for it or for any change or alteration, it must give reasonable notice to all people with an interest in the land “to attend and be heard.” The appraisers must also send a notice (CGS § 13b-246).
    17. If the view of railroad tracks near where they cross a highway at grade is obstructed by trees, shrubs, or earth, DOT can make appropriate orders after a hearing and reasonable notice to the relevant companies, town officials, and adjoining landowners. Any order must specifically set limits within which land can be taken and the nature, purpose, and specific limits of easements authorized to be taken. The expense of any order is paid by the owner of the land on which the obstruction is located (CGS § 13b-281).

  5. I cannot believe how ignorant and stupid sometimes most of the people who post here are. Acting like these buildings “keep getting burned” in the passive sense, what is the Arson Division for? What do they do? What have they ever accomplished? A bloated bureaucracy.
    This reeks of the Bronx playbook, organized crime, you name it.
    Hey all you Phi Beta Kappas, guess what? This building was occupied by artists, it was an artist colony written up in the New York Times about 14 years ago. Habitat had their warehouse here. It was a structurally sound set of buildings other cities would die for The CITY evicted all the artists. The CITY!!! This is what we get with FINCH!!! God, what is going to happen with the Shot Tower???

    1. Artists were in this building? Why would the City evict them if DiNardo owned the building? Are you talking about the Nest? I do not remember an artist colony in this building.

      Yeah, the arson division. That would be amazing if they found the culprit. Would any company even insure that structure?

    2. Before you start calling people names maybe in your position as a council person you should learn a few things. There is no full-time arson squad, do you understand? No full-time arson squad. When a fire inspector is assigned he does the arson investigation in between other duties.
      If you had your head out of your ass back in the ’80s, the arson squad reduced arson fires significantly and had a 100% conviction rate. Back then there were two full-time investigators and one detective and an analyst. No more and the reason is the fire prevention efforts and smoke detectors have reduced the number of fires.
      You know, instead of badmouthing people on this blog, get off your ass and find out why the various city departments are not doing their jobs as it relates to Remington.

      1. Halstead, you state the following; “Hey all you Phi Beta Kappas, guess what? This building was occupied by artists, it was an artist colony written up in the New York Times about 14 years ago. Habitat had their warehouse here. It was a structurally sound set of buildings other cities would die for.”
        First off, are you saying 14 years ago the city owned these buildings then sold them to DiNardo? I don’t think so.
        As much as I dislike Bill Finch he was not the mayor when these alleged evictions took place. The blame for what is going on at this complex rests squarely with the city and the various departments that govern vacant and dangerous buildings. It also rests with the council, Mr. Halstead. If you are looking for Phi Beta Kappas, just look no further than your council mates and you can include yourself in that group.

        1. Yes, Fireman Fardy and fire fighting is an honorable profession having come from a long line of them in Bridgeport dating to the 1800s. Well I was in the meeting when Fabrizi and his Economic Development staff were standing on one side of the room in the City Hall Annex and all the artists were on the opposite side hearing the news they had to leave the Remington Building and as you know, the City had already made a backroom deal with DiNardo and Finch was a Senator and his buddy. I guess I forgot more than you know.

          1. Bob, pure and simple you are full of shit. What do your comments about the FD have to do with anything? You have been on the council almost one year and what have you done? Nothing!!! What have you brought to the public’s attention? Nothing!!! Where are your public comments about administration spending and for that matter the spending of your fellow council members?

      1. You and Andy are entitled to your opinion. I have a Masters Degree in City Planning from Pratt Institute and let me send you my resume and you can send me yours. Ha ha.

        1. How is that degree working out for you? BTW Pratt Institute is now an art school and your degree is not part of what they offer. Too Bad. What city did you say you worked in or for?
          BTW my resume is too long to post here.

        2. You are an arrogant asshole. I have a doctorate from Harding High School in inner-city living. I can tell you this, your resume can’t match up to the one I earned:
          1. Recognized as an Origin & Cause expert in Federal Court
          2. Recognized as an Origin & Cause expert in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York.
          3. Consistently mad a mid-six-figure income while with a fortune 500 Company.
          4. Started my own Origin & Cause Company and charged $125 per hour for investigative work and $225 per hour for expert testimony.
          Published articles on fire investigation in national fire periodicals.
          Taught classes in Origin & Cause at the college level.
          Composed a promotional test for supervisor of fire investigation for a local city (not Bpt).
          So you see, not bad for a Harding graduate. Now tell me all about your planning career.

  6. I think it’s sick, they can tax you to death until your property value decreases to nothing and rich people who own land somehow skip around such things. If it takes a lawyer to reduce your taxes to nothing, then law school students should be working for free learning this same trade law rich people follow and not law books. Who needs them? You have a burn center, great hospitals, a Zoo, ice rink and immense history. I had a plaster clown from the original Barnum & Bailey’s circus from 1906 signed and dated and I was trying to put a dollar figure on the piece. It came from a time when after the circus season was over they camped out for the winter and made things to sell during the season. I’m thinking wow!! I hit paydirt here. The museum wanted me to donate the piece and when I said no, they suddenly had no record of that clown. I’m trying.

  7. That was so nice of Mayor Finch to show up at the fire scene and take pictures with his cell phone but I wonder if he thought enough of those firefighters to bring them some water or Gatorade. Please, just a photo op for him and he will use his pictures in some campaign for reelection.

  8. Ron, was it not appropriate for the Mayor to show up? Honestly? If Marilyn Goldstone were still alive, may she rest forever in peace, oh May have Seen volunteers and Gatorade. I didn’t realize firemen take coffee/Gatorade breaks while putting out a fire. That must be in your union contract. To be critical of the Mayor showing up on site is just plain ridiculous. We get it. You do not like Finch. Is it possible to reserve your loathing for more appropriate actions? Like for instance building Marina Village replacement housing downtown across from the Arena and Harbor yard. Aren’t you upset Marina Village will move out of your neighborhood? I was wondering why you never respond to my anti-replacement housing downtown and now I know why. I am surprised you didn’t commend the Mayor and his development director for this brilliant move. 🙂

      1. Grin Ripper, I loved Marilyn Goldstone and yes she would be busting my balls. It was my Kindle. I knew Marilyn very well and I certainly knew her name well. I miss her and her mother Dolly. Marilyn was one of the most memorable, caring and involved individuals I have ever met. She was a friend. I will pay respects this week in Fairfield.

  9. Steven Auerbach, talk about things you know, you said, “I didn’t realize firemen take coffee/Gatorade breaks while putting out a fire. That must be in your union contract.” Are you crazy, firefighters are carrying all their equipment on their backs with a Scott Air Pac to breath with in the middle of August in a building with heat and flames. Firefighters will get tired and they need to have something to drink and eat. Their is nothing in the union contract about supplying firefighters any water or food, nothing. That’s why I said about Mayor Finch bringing firefighters some water or Gatorade because he knows what they’re having there and they could be there all day or all night. The mayor is supposed to show up at something like that fire. Stop being a cheerleader for the mayor then maybe you could understand when firefighters’ lives are in danger, it might be a good idea to see how those who have power might help them with just a little water.

    1. Ron, I am a cheerleader for firemen. Maybe retired firemen like yourself could organize a volunteer group that shows up at major fires. Of course I know it is not in your Union contract. My point was MARILYN GOLDSTONE, her memory forever a blessing, was a one-woman wonder and she would have been there with an army supporting the firefighters. My point also, Finch was appropriate to be there. I wonder if he realizes how lucky he is having me take crap on his behalf. Like Anthony Musto, they figure they are deserving having cheerleaders like me. No thanks required.

      On another note: I could be wrong but I know the City has changed names on many streets, usually to honor a member of the minority community. It is surprising there was never an honor bestowed on Marilyn Goldstone for her many years supporting every cause. She should have had a plaque or anything in this city dedicated in her honor.

      Marilyn Goldstone and her slightly annoying Fran Dresheresque voice and huge heart and commitment to all within and outside her community will be remembered by those who knew her especially when we have events like huge fires and she is not around to do what she did best. Support. Thank you for allowing me to remember a huge personality in the City of Bridgeport.

      1. Steve,
        Not trying to change you one bit … there are only ‘would-be’ editors on OIB, and perhaps they attend to that function because they have not accomplished the thoughtful and heartful reflection to offer something worthwhile and different to readers in their posting.

        Anyway, as Mayor Finch’s most significant identifiable apologist on OIB, his manner of operating provides you with significant challenges. If he is purposeful in being at fires, as opposed to a photo op or adrenalin rush, he should also be prepared (and you, too?) with providing a recapitulation of the specific property, its history and the reason that, despite being a guarded facility historically, it is so vulnerable to tragedy. That’s the backstory … and most items posted by OIB have interesting backstories … worth knowing and connecting to the ‘news’ of today that is un- or under-reported by the CT Post as well as any other media outlet in our area.
        For example, several postings ago the Mayor was to attend a ‘topping out’ ceremony at Black Rock School. A statement came out of City Hall. But what was said by Finch while he was there? Is it possible the press is disinterested in Finch’s statements, proclamations, or other utterances because they are so NOT newsworthy? Is Black Rock School coming in under budget, ahead of time and employing lots of Bridgeport firms and residents? Does anyone know? Those are the ‘metrics’ that interest voters and taxpayers at the moment. What do you think? Time will tell.

        1. Sorry JML, honestly it’s been a long day and apparently I have been addicted to this blog in between other activities. I have a cat and three kittens I have been trying to figure out how to get them spayed. That’s what happens when you care for a gorgeous pure white stray during the winter and she brings you her three kittens and her hubby. They eat 24 hours a day. I’m just sharing.

          I am not sure at all what you were asking in your post so I’ll give you my interpretation of what I think you’re asking and how I feel.

          Sal DiNardo has a backstory. I know it, you know it, Bob Walsh knows it and Lennie Grimaldi knows it. It depends JML how you interpret life, politics, ripoff artists and schlimazels.
          Sal DiNardo is a man I had dealt with personally in politics and business. I am not interested in anyone’s opinion of him or constant vilifications. First, Sal DiNardo is probably a better politician than those serving. He is definitely well connected. I had a client interested in one of his facilities and I remember the jaws drop from a member of the BRBC and the City that I could actually get a business into Bridgeport by showing the perfect parcel. Sal DiNardo has weathered many storms in Bridgeport. He has suffered through Bridgeport’s inability to attract business. I remember how close he worked with my office 25 years ago. I have not had any connection or interaction with Sal DiNardo since Moran left office. I do know in my knowledge of countless unproductive people in the City who are the recipients of countless benefits who are purely sycophantic leeches. Sal DiNardo is only guilty of investing in Bridgeport over and over again. If he benefits and the City benefits after years of bankruptcy courts and a stagnant city with a less than impressive track record in luring businesses to fill his parcels, then let it be. If I were the Mayor I’d be doing the same thing. Sal DiNardo’s contribution to the City, aside from his politics, have been beneficial. He is not a personal friend of mine and he is an amazing BULLSHIT artist. That is why he has survived the ups and downs of Bridgeport’s 30 years of inactivity. Calling him a BULLSHIT artist was not intended to be an insult. I say make a deal. Raze the property and let’s move forward. If anyone equates that to DiNardo getting away with murder, well get over it. That building needs to go. I would hope they could save the tower but let’s face it. In Bridgeport we want to save historic structures but there just is never a plan or support system to make it happen.

      2. Steven Auerbach, I agree with you about Marilyn Goldstone, I would have thought that was done to honor her hard work in helping others. If nothing has been done then something should be. I remember her from the 1970s when she was helping WICC radio station’s Christmas toy fund and she would appear on the Tiny Markle Show on radio seeking donations from the public.

        1. Ron, ironically that was when I first met her in an elevator at WICC. I stopped off and bought stuffed animals. I was driving home from work in Stamford at the time.

  10. Speedy Gonzalez on May 15th, 2008.

    “I’d bet that Bill Finch still hasn’t returned Sal DiNardo’s campaign donations and I’m sure the Zoo is still waiting for his (Bill Finch’s) donation of his State Senate pay. If other Developers are paying attention to the way Sal DiNardo is being treated, hiring ten (10) Directors of Economic Development won’t make a difference.”

  11. I’m wondering if those decrepit buildings are insured. If so, by whom? Does anyone know? Insurance companies are the front runners when it comes down to arson investigations. The frequency with which suspected arson fires occur at that site is blatantly suspicious.

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