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Lee Dredges Up Questions About Port Authority

May 16th, 2017 · 10 Comments · Development and Zoning, News and Events

Community watchdog John Marshall Lee has a wave of questions regarding operations of the Bridgeport Port Authority including the lack of appointments to the board of directors.

Who is feeling “shy” at this waterfront moment? What else is ongoing but unsaid by those interested in Port development? Why is there no reference to other harbor front activity? Did anyone see the submission deadline for “Bridgeport Harbor Shipyard” issued on St Patrick’s Day but with a deadline of this Wednesday, May 17, 2017? (It’s for a 15.8 acre portion of 837 Seaview Avenue at least part of which we think of as formerly Derecktor.)

Of importance is: “The selected developer shall propose a project that offers positive economic impact to the Bridgeport Port Authority and the City of Bridgeport, with an emphasis on water-dependent usage, job creation, and property tax generation …” And where is the City Hall announcement concerning more than 25 acres, the balance of the site? Has there been a recent exchange of money and paper? Details?

Why does the RFP originate from Thomas Gill, who is one of three current Port Authority members, since there are two citizen vacancies, rather than from the Bridgeport Port Authority director? Why wasn’t this put out by Ms. Gina Malheiro, Executive Director of the Bridgeport Port Authority? At what meeting of the Bridgeport Port Authority was an authorization for this RFP discussed and voted upon? Last week was only the second meeting of the Port Authority since last summer when everyone was waiting for an announcement about a major food store for the East End. Wasn’t there a deadline as a qualification in a then-agreement regarding port property?

Why has Mayor Ganim ignored appointment of qualified, independent Bridgeport residents to the Port Authority in his 18 months of office? Has there been a sale already of part of said property for a rumored $2.6 Million? Who provided authority? Why has the City Finance office kept records on the Port Authority for years but refuses to provide them at current meetings? How is all of this going to look as it unfolds relative to MAYOR Joe Ganim’s gubernatorial chances? Where is there a Sheriff around a situation like this where community value is supposed to be maintained by a community body (like the Port Authority) but the Mayor fails to appoint, and City offices fail to provide requested data? Are appraisals for property values on which agreements are based current and reflect highest and best uses?

So many questions abound that perhaps you could float an aircraft carrier on the issues raised. However, might it get stuck in our harbor these days for want of dredging? If retail selling will be dead in 10 years as discussed nationally within the past week, is our development intended to be a last gasp, after waiting all these years? If we are not looking for the type of industry and jobs with no other siting potential, what are we settling for as a community? Who is speaking for our City? And why are they not sharing all of the numbers with the community before deals are acted upon? Who is managing the puppet show at City Hall? Time will tell.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Ben Henson

    Even as rhetoricals, these are great questions that will likely go unanswered. I’m glad you’re paying attention, and wish more people would turn a skeptical eye toward the City’s procurement habits.

  • Jimfox

    John, who payed off the $900,000 Port Authority loan?

    • John Marshall Lee

      As reported more than 12 months ago, $950,000 that had been loaned by a Westport firm with a 10.5% interest rate for ten years was suddenly taken from OPED Capital account WITHOUT CITY COUNCIL NOTICE OR APPROVAL. Now the CC has been aware of this for over one year but never raised a question (above a whisper level, if that). So the CC proves itself to be a sleeping watchdog once again. It has statutory support to call that on the City, but fails to protect their share of check and balance.
      Was it Tom Sherwood or Andy Nunn or someone in Finance? Does it matter? It was wrong but the Ganim administration never blew the whistle on any Port Authority abnormality, did they? Is your question whether Capital Funds were replaced in OPED, and if so from where? Or perhaps, why has there been no financial report made available to the Port Authority itself? And if the former accounting firm for the PA, apparently shut out of activity in 2008, by Finch administrators, tried subsequently to put records together since then, they have been forestalled by lack of full cooperation by current Finance.

      Does this call for a thorough fiscal audit? What has our current external auditor to say about City Hall handling Port Authority payroll, benefits and all financial matters? Can anyone see a mention of the Bridgeport Port Authority in each annual edition of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report? If so many funds were advanced by the City in days past, why hasn’t there been a full attempt to make this info public? Does something smell in this history? Is it low tide on a hot humid day in the mud flats? Time will tell.

  • Jimfox

    Bridgeport Port Authority

    • Organized in 1992, was the first Port Authority in Connecticut
    • Is a self-funding Quasi-public agency that gets its powers from State statues
    • Develops the waterfront, projects and practices that will help reduce congestion
    and exhaust emissions in ports and along Interstate 95 in Connecticut
    • Utilizes various tools to aid in the success of maritime commerce
    • Works in partnership with other agencies to keep the Port secure, directly
    impacting the safety of the power plant, railroad lines and Interstate 95, as well as
    those who use Bridgeport’s waters
    • Pursue dredging of Bridgeport Harbor to maintain the Federal Channel to its
    authorized depth; Black Rock Harbor will be next
    • We are committed to the vision that the Bridgeport’s Harbors are an important
    economic development asset for the City, the Region and the State.

  • Frank Gyure

    most respectfully..this issue of the $900,000 is old news. It can be part of the narrative of poor/bad governance in Bridgeport. But if if we talk about this in a vacuum..the eyes just start to glaze over. We need to talk about what is happening right now. The past is over. we need to create a new future.

  • Stringfellow

    The harbor needs to be dredged in order to qualify as a deep water harbor. This “can” has ben kicked down the street for decades.

    From what I understand and things could have changed Mr. Fox can confirm or correct me. From what I was told the issue is, who is going to pay for it? Is the sediment found be lifted and removed by barge or dumped in a deeper part of the sound? I am sure someone at some point did a study on this, it was expensive then and even more expensive now.

    This is one item that needs to be put to rest once and for all. You are either going to do it, or not.

    • Frank Gyure

      I believe funds have been allocated to dredge Bridgeport Harbor. Probably mostly a combo of State and Federal funds. However,what has help up the project is a dispute between Connecticut and New York over where to place the dredged materials. The dredging dumping sites in Long Island are in New York water and NY is objecting citing concerns over any possible toxic material in the dredged sediment.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Was there a recent transfer of land for dollars?? Was there an appraisal with current values supporting such a transfer? Is the Port Authority functioning with all hands on board (or is the Mayor’s office continuing to hold positions in an AWOL -absent without leave position? What is the value of an acre of harborfront property? After waiting all these years to occur, does anyone care what the going price is, and what the community value will be both as to public service and as public taxpayer?? What says the Mayor about these subjects? Or is the Governor’s race too heated to deal with local matters of consequence? RFP opening today? Time will tell.

  • Jimfox

    Bridgeport’s Hidden Government

    The city council has been aware of this for over a year, and so has the city Attorney’s office.this is how easy it is to abscond a Million Dollars from the Taxpayers.

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