From Mayor Finch:
Brownfield remediation, bonding programs for minority contractors, and red light cameras are three of the major legislative priorities Mayor Bill Finch and the City’s Legislative Delegation will focus on during the upcoming legislative session, which begins tomorrow.
Bridgeport continues to lead the region in brownfield reclamation and it is seen as an important component in the City’s economic development strategy. The City is seeking funding of about $1 to 2 million for continued cleanup on several East Side properties.
“We are a small City, only 16 square miles, and reclaiming brownfields to turn them into ‘greenfields’ is part of our economic development plan,” said Mayor Finch. “We need more funds to clean up brownfield site and restore them to usefulness, bring them back to the tax rolls and keep our economic development plan on track.”
During last year’s session, State Rep. Andres Ayala was able to secure $1 million in bond funding to begin the cleanup of the Remgrit site on Barnum Avenue, the future home of the proposed East Side train station.
“Cleaning up that site and removing the blighted buildings are the first step to a project that will transform the East Side. This could be the spark which ignites further investment opportunities and better jobs and housing for our residents,” said Rep. Ayala. Rep. Ayala and the rest of the delegation will be seeking an additional $1.5 million to complete the cleanup and demolition of that site during the current Legislative session.
The Mayor also is a proponent of a bonding guaranty program for minority contractors involved in construction projects in Fairfield and New Haven counties. The construction industry is the second largest economic sector in terms of employment and revenue, and since 2005, there has been an upswing in the number of companies owned by minorities and women. Since many of these companies are small, they aren’t always able to compete for the bigger projects because they cannot obtain the bonds required for government contracts.
“A local surety guaranty program will enable more small and minority contractors to bid on construction projects in Bridgeport and surrounding areas,” said Mayor Finch. “A program such as this would help many of the small, minority and woman-owned businesses that do work with the City to qualify for more government contracts.”
Mayor Finch joins his fellow Mayors Segarra and DeStefano in supporting funding for red light camera installation at major intersections throughout the City. Studies show that drivers who run red lights cause hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries across the country each year. Enforcement is a key component, but allocating police resources to patrolling intersections as often as needed would take officers away from more serious work throughout City neighborhoods. Installing Red Light cameras has shown to reduce the number of instances when motorists run red lights and the objective would be to deter violators, and ultimately reduce the possibility for untimely pedestrian/vehicular accidents due to running red lights.
The Mayor also strongly supports Governor Malloy’s recently announced education reform proposals, including his plan for Education Cost Sharing reform. Under the current system, local property taxes shoulder the majority of Pre K-12 public education costs. Mayor Finch supports an increase in State funding, and a commitment to Pre K – 12 public education, which will help Connecticut to compete economically with its neighbors and the world.
Other priorities for the 2012 session include:
· Addition of the City’s award-winning Lighthouse After School program to the Neighborhood Youth Center Funding earmark
· Seek bonding for: Repaving State Street from Fairfield Avenue to downtown; completion of the walkway at Black Rock train station, and funding for a splash pad at Puglio Park
· Obtain remaining $1.5 million bond commitment for demolition of Remgrit to make way for the proposed Barnum Train station on the City’s East Side
“Our last Legislative session was extremely productive, and I want to thank Rep. Ayala and the entire delegation for their hard work and diligent attention to the long list of priorities that were enacted as part of the last session,” said Mayor Finch.
2011 Accomplishments include:
· Pension Payment Plan: Working closely with the state Treasurer’s Office and the administration’s budget office, the City was able to gain legislative approval allowing it to offer a long-term, tiered approach to fully fund its obligations for Pension Plan A.
· Green Energy Park Legislation: The City and delegation were able to have language successfully incorporated into the major energy reform bill passed last year that will allow it to convert the closed City landfill into a Green Energy Park, and generate 5 megawatts of clean renewable power for the grid and generate valuable tax revenue for the City.
· Barnum Train Station: The City and delegation were able to secure a commitment of $2.5 million in bonding for demolition and clearing of the proposed Barnum Train Station site on the City’s East Side, which would give Bridgeport two stations within comfortable walking distance of densely populated areas.
· School construction/Brownfield remediation: With the help and support of the delegation and Education Committee chairs, the City was able to obtain approval for legislation allowing it to use school construction funding to acquire and clean up brownfields to residential standards to free up land for new school construction.
· Virginia Avenue conveyance: Succeeded in getting approval to convey this parcel for use as a “pocket park.”
· Multi-district Magnet School: The City was able to resolve some of the issues with Trumbull surrounding the multi-magnet school with a Special Act that altered the City boundaries and footprint.
· Municipal Aid and Education Funding: Working in collaboration with the administration, CCM and the delegation, the City supported efforts to prevent cuts to municipal aid and education funding.