SHU Property Purchase, Trumbull Sludge Deal On City Council Agenda, Ganim Seeks Summer Youth Funds

Monday night’s City Council meeting could be a long one due to two issues: a proposal by Sacred Heart University to purchase eight acres of golf course property from Fairchild Wheeler and resolution of a legal battle with Trumbull regarding wastewater rates.

The golf course property purchase represents $4 million to the city. Sacred Heart wants the land to extend its footprint to satisfy Fairfield zoning regulations to advance additional building on campus proper while maintaining the golf course property under its current use. So the city gets the money but SHU cannot alter the property beyond necessary maintenance. The approval requires 14 votes under the City Charter because it involves the sale of park land. Bridgeport’s municipal golf course is located in Fairfield as a result of an 80-year-old deed.

The deal with Trumbull represents more than $1 million to the city stemming from a court battle over past sewer use fees. Trumbull’s waste is processed through the city’s sewage treatment system. The city has shared minimal details on the proposed agreement because it has been stuck in litigation.

Council committees the past two weeks have approved the measures.

Also on the agenda advanced by Mayor Joe Ganim is a communication to transfer $250,000 to Parks and Recreation to establish a Summer Youth Initiative.

See full agenda here.



  1. The questions abound:
    1.) Will voters and taxpayers learn the terms of the Trumbull sewer deal before the council votes? Will the council?
    2.) Will Tim Herbst get a better deal from Mayor Ganim than from former mayor Finch and, if so, why?
    3.) Is Bridgeport headed into a regional sewer authority with Trumbull?
    4.) Will any payments received as a result of the deal go to the WPCA or into the city’s general fund?

    And then there is the sale of park land to Sacred Heart University:
    1.) Will the Ganim administration tell us (or will the council ask) how the $4 million price was established? On Wednesday night a city lawyer described it as what Sacred Heart thought the deal was worth. Did the city really accept Sacred Heart’s first offer?
    2.) Will the administration finally explain why it thinks it can circumvent the City Charter and put the proceeds from the sale in the general fund?
    3.) Why is the city racing to get the proceeds of the sale into the general fund by the end of the fiscal year, instead of waiting and using the funds to reduce taxes next year? Has the outlook for the FY2016 deficit taken a turn for the worse?

    It should be an interesting night.

    1. Follow (Foul oh) the Money is the President of the Bridgeport No Brains Society so if anyone knows a no-brainer when they see one it would be Foul Oh.

      1. Foul Oh is trying to compare the golf course and Steal Pointe. The big difference is if ever completed, Steal Pointe will represent a future revenue stream in the millions for the next 50 years to the city of Bridgeport. This deal generates no future earnings to the city.
        No Brainer? VOTE NO!!!

      2. Foul Oh is comparing apples to onions and these onions are making me cry.
        Is this the legal/fiscal tag team of Lisa Trachtenburg and John Ricci hard at work again squeezing the Bridgeport Taxpayers?
        Beware folks. History will tell us years down the line, a Superior Court Judge will probably step in and rule the city got ripped off again.

  2. Thank you Phil for your concise and thoughtful comments. I believe the city ordinances require three independent appraisals. And the appraisals would need to determine the benefit value to SHU. Will the new developments include dormitories? What would be the future revenue stream as a result of that? Or is it classroom space? How much in new tuition will be generated as a result? Revenue projections are a legitimate means of establishing an acquisition value but if what you are saying is correct, that this is the offer that SHU came up with then we should go back to the drawing board.

  3. And Phil, as I recall Mayor Ganim has insisted this revenue will go into the next fiscal year which politically makes sense to me. Build up the Finch deficit at the same time he is building up the Ganim surplus.
    So why the rush? I would guess it is SHU that is the party that is in a hurry and if that is the case then we should definitely slow things down.
    Squeeze another million or two out of them if they are pushing to get this deal done.

    1. I wonder what UB will be expecting. MJF’s resignation doesn’t sit right, she loves UB and has served with excellence. Her resignation is untimely. I hope there wasn’t covert interference that caused her to say “I’m out of here.”

    2. Bob,
      I thought much the same thing. However, the revenue isn’t in the 2016-2017 budget or the property tax calculation and I’m told the administration wants to close the deal before the end of the fiscal year. Go figure.

  4. I am much more concerned about the BPT/TRUMBULL sewer deal. Combination of the secrecy (which REALLY stinks) and the details. And I cannot help but think the relationship between the Ganim and Herbst families did not have something to do with the lowering of the price tag from $2.2 million to $1.6 million. And is this a one-shot deal. A resolution to ONE lawsuit. The lack of details and the secrecy is simply unacceptable.

  5. A better deal for Trumbull would be bad. Trying to cloak the deal in secrecy would make matters much worse. Council members should be worried about the political fallout from that combination.

    1. Phil,
      It’s not about a better deal for Trumbull. Currently there is no deal. The contract expired years ago.
      The secrecy is not acceptable.
      The chances of a regional authority while Tim Herbst is First Selectmen are slim to none. Tim doesn’t get along with neighboring municipalities, he loves to sue them, just ask Steve Vavrek in Monroe. What Herbst loves to do is generate huge legal fees for his former employers, (Owens, Schine, Nicola) and Cohen and Wolf.

  6. When issues get to an impasse of one type or other, we resort to legally constituted process, whether that is a courtroom to deal with a suit, whether it’s a process of mediation or arbitration if appropriate, etc. and you can think of more ways the law has assisted communities in finding our ways to a fair and supposedly just result.

    Secrecy hurts the entire process because of the all too human tendency to suspect another party of getting an advantage. So that suspicion will always be present if secrecy is the common practice. However, when one party walks away muttering and the other party does too, about how they were harmed, yet each agreed to the deal, there is a greater likelihood for each party the expense of continuing to battle became less worthy, and operating in the new way could present something to be lived with.

    The fact the rate charged to Bridgeport residents in the past was greater than that charged to Trumbull residents is one of those partial truths that caused such misunderstanding. Lost in such discussions was the fact Trumbull residents had to pay the charge coming from Bridgeport PLUS a charge from their own town for new infrastructure, repairs, and other costs specific to activity in the Town of Trumbull. That may have looked like a sweet deal to Bridgeporters who heard only a partial story, but it was not the full truth.
    There is much more to the story, I am sure, but if both Towns had to disclose the legal fees expended in this matter year after year with no result or progress, taxpayers would complain with more energy. So sewage disposal matters kept secret may not stink much more than legal expenses kept secret? Don’t we expect each team to claim they beat up the other side? Why don’t we ask them for the facts supporting their statements? Time will tell.

  7. Again: the bigger picture of the Trumbull sewer deal is being missed. The underlying consideration here is beyond Bridgeport subsidizing Trumbull sewer usage by availing infrastructure they would otherwise have to build and maintain, without benefit of a natural “sink” for wastewater disposal (no major river or large body of water to use as an outlet). Bridgeport, by providing Trumbull with the means for the handling of massive amounts of waste/wastewater also allows Trumbull to enjoy a tax base built largely at the expense of Bridgeport’s, while it enjoys the suburban lifestyle permitted thereby.

    Bridgeport has been played for the proverbial “sucker” for several decades, per the above situation, while we have continued a long and steep socioeconomic descent by our own hand to the extent we have allowed the continuation of this stupid, exploitative arrangement with Trumbull.

    Trumbull should be put on a five-year sewer disconnect notice. They need to build their own infrastructure so ours is free to accommodate our own renaissance. Bridgeport cannot ever to hope to prosper if it keeps playing the role of “village idiot” for the Fairfield County village.

  8. A couple of unanswered questions for tonight’s Council meeting:

    1.) Has the Council seen the actual sewer deal with Trumbull or just a summary of the still-secret deal?

    2.) Do they know how the $4 million price Sacred Heart will pay for the park property was arrived at?

    3.) Has the Council seen a legal opinion about the sale of the park land and the use of the proceeds?

    4.) Why is all of this shrouded in Secrecy?

    Do the Council Members care or will they meekly do what they are told?

  9. It would be nice if they rolled some of this money over to the Parks Department to have the City run the community garden program, that is currently on slivers of city property. More staff and material resources are needed for maintenance of existing and formation of new and to synergies with nutrition and education needs for an already successful and badly needed program.


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