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Parks Commissioner: No One Told Us Vote Was Non-Binding

February 20th, 2014 · 20 Comments · Development and Zoning, News and Events

One of the five Parks Commission members who voted down the proposed solar field for Seaside Park Monday night says at no time did the associate city attorney who attended the meeting advise the members their vote would be non-binding. If anything, Ann Owens told OIB on Wednesday, there was an urgency for the vote to take place prior to Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

City Attorney Mark Anastasi announced the day after the rejection by the Parks Commission the vote was non-binding. “The administration has submitted the solar project to a host of boards and commissions for their non-binding advice and recommendations, including the Board of Parks Commissioners,” Anastasi said in a statement to the Connecticut Post.

“If our vote was non-binding no one told us,” says Ann Owens, long-time member of the commission. “Then why would they have us vote on it? It was clear to all of us that the proposal required our approval.” In light of the Parks Commission vote, City Council President Tom McCarthy delayed a vote on the matter Tuesday night until the Finch administration can determine its next move.

From the City Charter:

Section 13. Sale or lease of park land.

No parks or park land belonging to the city shall be sold or capital leased unless such sale or capital lease is recommended by the board of park commissioners and approved by a two-thirds vote of the entire membership of the city council, both bodies having conducted a public hearing prior to taking any action. Any such approval may be disapproved by the mayor, in the manner provided in Chapter Five of this charter.

Associate City Attorney Ron Pacacha briefed parks commissioners Mark Marko, James Giles, Banjed Labrador, Frank Mercaldi, and Ann Owens Monday night attended by two dozen South End and Black Rock residents opposed to installing thousands of solar panels on the old municipal dump located on Seaside Park. Owens says Pacacha told the members that a title search showed that the closed landfill is located on park land. All five commissioners in attendance voted down the proposal. Owens added that the commissioners did not receive the packet of information regarding the proposal until six days before the meeting, and there was no prior outreach by the Finch administration about the benefits of the proposal.

Last October Finch announced a city partnership with United Illuminating for the Green Energy Park renewable energy project, one of the initiatives proposed in the City’s BGreen 2020 sustainability plan to create jobs, save taxpayers money and fight climate change.


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20 Comments so far ↓

  • BptPorter

    Wow, absolute genius. I so desperately want to get my proposal through, I will put it through more voting bodies, and then I am surprised the plan derails. A brilliant strategist!

  • charlie

    Since when do dictators ever tell their victims of impending doom?

  • Valkyrie

    When something doesn’t sound right, look right, feel right or smell right–when it stinks–that’s because it isn’t right. It’s rotten! This land lease deal with UI, negotiated by Paul Timpanelli aka the Pimp, stinks to high heaven. Only $7 million to the City over 20 years? That’s only $350,000/year. Plus, the City is totally liable for anything and everything that may go wrong? That’s insane. Apparently there was nobody at the table negotiating a favorable deal for the City. Looks like a deal favorable to one entity for one individual, Bill Finch. I guarantee there’s a backdoor deal between Timpanelli and UI to funnel money to BRBC so they can rehire Finch.

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    The contract language has been overseen by PURA (the state regulatory agency for energy). The Mayor did ask for much more income for the lease, but PURA recommended reducing the amount. The details are on the PURA web site under docket number 12-01-05.

  • Jimfox

    The City Attorney is confused again, this was not a Resolution, it was a formal vote! Taken by a deliberative body of the Parks Commission.

    This City Attorney should be working at Walmart, but not in the pet department! Maybe as the Door and People Greeter. (A nice safe job.)

    “Welcome to Walmart. My name is Mark.” “Incontinence pads? Aisle 5. You’re welcome.”


    Finch and Pimpanelli are brothers from another mother.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Something isn’t right here, why is Finch so hellbent on this deal? Usually when constituents who are there to help voice opposition on a matter, a good leader would pause and want to know the reasons. Our leader instead gets angry, yelling back at the public and is trying anything to get this through (the land is not part of the park). It can’t help but raise suspicion on the reason why Finch is doing this, is it for self financial gain? Trying to take care of a supporter?, Setting something up for himself when he gets voted out of office? There has to be a reason for Finch’s actions … very interesting if you ask me.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      I think the mayor sincerely believes this solar plant is a green income-generating opportunity on nontaxable property to bring positive notice to Bridgeport. From my limited research, from the EPA to the CT State policy, this idea looked like a solid plan on paper. I would hazard a guess the public opposition to this plan has surprised the mayor. The big winner in this financially is UI–ratepayer funded, huge Federal tax incentives if built by 2016, and a lease that is very favorable to UI.

    • Jimfox

      HW, Finch and Tippy should take stock. Maybe they did?

    • BOE SPY

      It seems like Dems, for the most part, do not see themselves as leaders as much as parents. They do not like it when the children act insolent. They give us health insurance, free food, a place to live and an allowance. All we have to do is remember we are to be seen and not heard. They know what is best for us. Don’t act up, don’t fidget and, most of all, don’t embarrass them in front of their friends or you will end up in your room for the night.

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    Well thank goodness for the Parks commissioners–they voted in good faith in what they believed is in the best interest of “The City.” Bravo!

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Do you want a “Binding Vote?” Vote Line C on March 4, 2014 Democratic Primary.

  • Grin Ripper

    Mark Anastasi is an oxymoron.

  • Mustang Sally

    This thin-skinned Mayor would do well to stop acting like he is the only Mayor in the extensive history of urban Mayors who has ever had to deal with irate residents shouting and shaking fists. DO NOT DISRESPECT those whose votes gave you your job. Put on your Kevlar jockstrap, smile and thank your citizenry for the input. And that is how it’s done. Boom!

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The mayor would have a lot less criticism if he TOLD the TRUTH. People would understand what was going on. Here are a few examples.
    1. The school building committee looked at several sites before they settled on the GE property.
    A. Truth is the property was given to the city as a gift.

    2. Seaside Park Dump is not parkland and this project is good for the city.
    B. The dump is parkland it was researched by the city attorney and found to be part of the park.

    3. Mayor states in the past few years he has to raise the taxes slightly and he has no choice.
    C. In the previous two budgets the mayor hid over $10 million dollars (both years together) in ghost positions, ghost positions that are carried in the budget but not filled.

    The list goes on and on and as long as he keeps the public in the dark or keeps giving us misinformation he will keep getting hell from the public.

  • Mojo

    *** They only tell you what you need to know, no more, no less! ***

  • Mojo


  • burman

    Maybe it’s time for a new party, not voting in primaries when absentee ballots rule. People need to lose the idea of Democrat or Republican in this city, and vote for change. Gaining a seat or two here or there as Democrats doesn’t matter much. We need wholesale change.

  • Godiva2011

    If the Park Board’s vote is nonbinding, why not just disband them? If their opinions mean nothing, then what practical purpose do they serve?

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