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.