Detention For Jodi, Plus: Put On Your Promotional Cap

Afternoon Update

: Governor Jodi Rell is determined to shoehorn a juvenile detention center for girls on the Upper East Side. She’s moving ahead to approve the dough through the State Bond Commission that she chairs. Ya know what I say … stick it in Brookfield! Thanks to Bob Fredericks for the heads-up on this. See Bob’s post and attached AP story under comments.

Downtown Opportunities

Despite a cranky economy there’s some stuff going on that has downtown poised for new growth.

One of the unsung stories of the decade is the recent partnership between Norwalk-based Forstone Capital and Spinnaker Real Estate Partners that has elevated the real estate concerns among the top property owners in the city. The partnership, called Main Street Ventures, purchased from People’s United Bank two prime city blocks that includes seven buildings totaling 255,000 square feet. Tenants include a variety of restaurants, professional services companies and non-profits such as Casey Family Services and Playhouse on the Green.

I’ve chatted with Kim Morque, a principal with Main Street Ventures, and he’s clearly a guy who sounds like he’s committed to the city long term focused on historic preservation. I’ve also chatted with a number of associated tenants who say the partnership has been accommodating in working through lease negotiations during challenging economic times.

Before the economy cratered several down county and New York-based developers saw opportunities in the state’s largest city. For one thing,  for all the chatter about high Bridgeport taxes, the city offers opportunities for investors against the astronomical cost of doing business along the Gold Coast of Fairfield County.

I’m hoping that in 2010 the city steps up and markets its destination points to drive folks downtown and entice additional investors. When the city marketed destination points–ballpark, museums, zoo, local theater, seaport–attendance was up. There’s a direct connection between the marketing blackout and downward attendance at Bluefish games. The Downtown Special Services District has launched a joint promotion between downtown restaurants and first-class shows at the 1,400-seat Klein Auditorium, a sweet facility.

If the city ponies up some dough with the business community in a joint marketing effort more bodies will flood downtown. And a key component to this is Phil Kuchma’s Bijou Square project on Fairfield Avenue where the city has the start of a nice restaurant district that includes Épernay Bistro, Café Roma, Two Boots and Joseph’s Steakhouse. Looks like Kuchma has his financing reloaded for January to finish the housing portion of the development to beef up downtown residents.

And another component: more than 10,000 professionals work downtown, another 5,000 students attend Housatonic Community College, the highest trafficked community college in the state. A marketing effort can reinforce the restaurants and attractions within walking distance.

Let’s eat downtown!!! Speaking of downtown, news release from the Barnum Museum: 

Meet a Disney On IceSM Princess at The Barnum Museum on Wednesday

 On Wednesday, December 30 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. The Barnum Museum will be hosting a special holiday week children’s program. Children will learn about Victorian Christmas traditions and create a tree ornament. Then a skater from Disney On Ice presents Princess Classics will read a story to everyone. All of the children at the event will receive one complimentary pass to attend one of the Disney On Ice presents Princess Classics performances at the Arena at Harbor Yard from December 30 through January 3, and have the royal opportunity to meet and have their pictures taken with Princess Cinderella.

What: Children learn about Victorian Christmas traditions, create an ornament and meet Princess Cinderella

When: Wednesday, December 30 from 1:00 -2:00 p.m.

Where: The Barnum Museum, 820 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT

R.S.V.P. to Jaime Knoedler at 203-331-1104 ext. 102

Cost: The program is free with General Museum Admission

Adults: $7, Seniors and college students: $5, Children 4 – 17: $4, Under 4: Free

Regular Barnum Museum Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Noon – 4:30 p.m



  1. “town committee” made this posting on Dec 21, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    “The administration’s hiring machine is getting ready to withdraw money from their slush fund to hire a well known serving politician. You get three guesses and the first two don’t count.”

    “State Rep Don Clemons is being considered for a part-time job with the city. The two spots are working for the Fire Department on the laundry truck or working at Weights and Measures. I guess the hold-up is where do the funds come from to pay for this position. Retired city employees are not allowed to be paid from the city funds while collecting a pension which Clemons is doing.”

    Well Andy, the firefighter who WAS performing the job on the Fire Department laundry truck has now been removed and the position is now a Civilian position. Andy, do you now know who will get that position and at what salary?

  2. How convenient that the position has turned into a civilian position. While I was there that position was handled by an injured firefighter that could not perform firefighting due to an on-the-job injury. The position was filled by these people who would rather work than retire.
    Making it civilian is just this administration’s way of laying the groundwork for a favored political hack to get a job.
    My sources tell me that Clemons was or is in line for this job or a job in weights and measures. I repeat what I said earlier, what funds will be expended to pay for Clemons’ salary if in fact he is hired for either position? Must be Federal or Grants money as he is not allowed to be paid from city funds but in this administration the law when it comes to jobs and salaries means nothing.
    Ron I don’t know the salary or the hours but it’s my understanding that it’s part time.

    1. TC, people retire and then return to the city payroll all the time. They are referred to as “double dippers” because they get a pension check as well as a weekly payroll check. I can give you several examples. So this deal with Clemons is nothing new. Doesn’t make it right though.

  3. Lennie,
    You should do an interview with Architect Paul Antinozzi of the Downtown Task Force regarding these new downtown investors.

    Unlike many past investors, they have purchased large holdings (not options). They have a vision for downtown Bridgeport that reflects a new urbanism that is not totally based upon office development but rather a “liveable” mix of residential, commercial, and entertainment that is is close to mass transportation … Kind of creating a downtown neighborhood instead of an empty streets office environment after 5:00 pm.

    Unlike most of our past pie-in-the sky development fiascoes, the fact that these big developers with real live track records have invested serious coin gives me hope.

    Many on this blog have been repeatedly disappointed and are cynical about just about every development option that comes down the pike. I’m hoping that this will play out positively in 2010 moving forward and you could count me as cautiously optimistic.

    1. Nice concept of New Urbanism. Keith “The Cougar” Rodgerson has been a proponent well before it became the latest, hippest, downtown Bridgeport buzzword. One key ingredient is missing in the recipe for success. Jobs! Jobs!! Jobs!!! In order to have the true push and pull effect of a transportation-oriented district, you need major employers creating major downtown job opportunities. Until then I will be pessimistically optimistic. Maybe someone with 20/20 vision could open an optical boutique called the “Cock-Eyed Optimist”.

        1. It would be an Optical Illusion.
          Where there is No Vision, the People Perish.
          New drink being hawked downtown called the Dead-Eyed Dick! Keep an eye out for it at your local downtown haunt.

  4. This just in:

    Rell pushing ahead with Bridgeport youth facility

    Associated Press Writer
    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. M. Jodi Rell is pushing ahead with plans to build a juvenile detention center for girls in Bridgeport, despite opposition from residents who claim the project is being forced upon their neighborhood.
    The Republican governor announced Tuesday that the State Bond Commission, which she chairs, is expected to approve $15 million for the project at its Jan. 8 meeting. It has been six years since the state had a facility for troubled girls, and Rell said it is urgently needed.
    “This gender-specific program offers them a chance to heal and grow up to live productive lives,” Rell said in a written statement. “The facility is for certain girls at certain crisis points in their lives and removes the high risk of them abandoning help and hope.”
    But Democratic state Rep. Chris Caruso of Bridgeport, who refers to the facility as a jail, said Rell’s decision to push ahead with the project “underscores the arrogance and total disregard” Rell has for the people of Bridgeport.
    Last month, a hostile crowd of nearly 250 people packed a meeting in the city as state officials presented plans to build the 36,000-square-foot center, with a 6-foot-high fence, in a residential neighborhood. The facility, designed for girls 18 years old and younger, is proposed to have 16 secure beds and eight beds for girls transitioning into community residential facilities.
    Caruso said he and Democratic Sen. Anthony Musto, whose district includes Bridgeport, wrote to Rell, asking her to meet with them, the neighbors and local business owners. He said the governor would only agree to have her staff meet with the group — a move that has angered the legislator.
    “The one who has the say is the governor. She’s the one who sets the agenda, and she’s the one we wanted to speak to,” he said.
    Rell’s office declined to comment on Caruso’s remarks.
    The Bridgeport mayor’s office was expected to comment on Rell’s decision later on Tuesday.
    City officials had offered alternative locations for the facility, but the Department of Children and Families, which will operate the detention center, said the chosen parcel can accommodate the facility. The department also said the location is on a bus line and is readily accessible for families.

  5. Thanks to Bob Fredericks for the update on the new prison. I wrote Governor Rell the following letter:
    Governor Rell:
    I live in Bridgeport near the site of the girls juvenile jail that you propose to build. You are creating a hardship and devaluing our property values. There are other sites in Connecticut and other sites offered by the city of Bridgeport for this center.
    This appears to be you parting shot at Bridgeport. The excuse that this site is on a bus line is baloney. These girls are in this program because they could not or would not stay with their families. Tell me what bus is a family of a girl from Hartford going to take to this site? Do I want the families of these girls wandering around my neighborhood? No I do not. If bus routes were a paramount reason for this facility why are most of our prisons in areas where there are no buses?
    Bridgeport has a major prison that houses every kind of prisoner you can imagine. We have a large juvenile facility for boys in Bridgeport. When did we become the incarceration center of Connecticut? When do the suburbs start assuming some of the state’s social issues?
    You are just being stubborn on this issue spend your $15 million elsewhere.

  6. Lennie, has the Finch Administration considered the old juvenile facility on Fairfield Avenue as a compromise site for the girls juvenile facility? Just blocks from downtown, the Fairfield Avenue site would be ideal. The state can help reform these girls in many ways such as: Bringing them to the restaurant district and teaching them proper table etiquette. The State can bring the girls to the News Corner downtown and show them exactly where they should not hang out upon release from the detention center. I can go on and on, but I’m sure your Local Eyes get the picture.

    You know the old saying about what to do when life gives you lemons. Bill Finch is following the same principle. Political life has given Bill Finch Rep. Don Clemons who has expressed interest in running for mayor. Life gives Finch Clemons, so Bill Finch decides to make Clemons-Aid. What’s wrong with that? Now if the OIB rumors are true and Clemons gets the position at the Fire Department, then I think it would be wise for Mojo to form an Exploratory Committee to run for mayor. This will give Mojo some leverage and perhaps Finch will in turn make Mojo-Aid and reinstate Mojo at Weights and Measures. Now that’s putting on your “Promotional Cap”.

  7. Hey Lennie, are you making any 2010 Predictions?
    Here’s one for all OIB fans:

    Within the first month of 2010, the Bob Walsh and Evette Brantley saga will come to a close. Bob Walsh will receive a mysterious package in the mail. Upon inspecting the package for a ticking sound or white powder, Bob will open the package. In the package, Bob Walsh will find a pack of “White Crackers” with a note from Brantley saying: “We are even–or can I say equal.”

  8. *** Hope the new girls juvenile center is put in Bpt. wherever it will fit; what else has Bpt. got going for it? Pipe dreams & smoke & mirrors, slashing city budget, just to turn around & spend twice as much on political do-nothings & non-revenue making, bogus new city government depts. *** I’m patiently waiting for the real-estate economy to improve for sellers in Bpt. to move south. “Unfortunately” I really don’t see very much future city-life improvements for Bpt. *** Now that civil service is gone, more & more temp. light-duty positions for union members are disappearing, especially for essential workers like the F/D & P/D if there is such a thing. ***

  9. I guess it’s never enough … For those that don’t know, Clemons’ no-brain GF works in CitiStat … Although she probably got the job thanks to Uncle Mitchy …

    As for the lemons-aid being cooked up … It sure ain’t Clemons-aid … It’s Ford-Aid … Good Ol’ Doc Ford is cooking up his list of hires … If Finch keeps the Doc Happy, he won’t make a deal with another candidate in 2011 … Or will he???

    He might do Finch like he did Shays … Take the money and still screw ’em …

    If Finch has to start paying for loyalty this early in the game, that’s a bad sign … And not many trust him anymore like the Gomes, Curry and Coviellos of the world …

    1. Don’t kid yourself Celia. Doc Ford would jump ship in a minute for a viable black candidate. The good doc and his friends are just getting what they can while the getting is good. Wouldn’t you?


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