Fasano: Malloy’s Seaside Park Plan Plays Politics Over Policy

October 10, 2014

Hartford – State Senator Len Fasano (R-34), Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore, is calling out Governor Malloy for contradicting his 2010 Jobs Roadmap by breaking a sales contract, asserting state ownership of the Seaside Sanatorium and revealing plans for a state park without consulting the town’s first selectman.

In 2010, prior to being elected, Governor Malloy laid out an economic development plan focused on engaging local officials in redevelopment projects, and specifically identified Seaside as one of these projects. The plan stated: “In some cases those projects that have languished because the state tried to impose its will from Hartford, as opposed to what I’d do as Governor: figure out a smart way for the state to partner with local leaders to move the projects forward to completion.”

Senator Fasano says Governor Malloy completely disregarded his promise to work with the community to create economic opportunities at Seaside when he announced his plan to turn Seaside into a state park, thereby terminating a contract with a local developer and failing to include First Selectman Dan Steward, a Republican, in this decision. Senator Fasano has been in contact with local officials concerned about the situation.

“How can anyone trust this administration after witnessing what happened in Waterford? Waterford had a plan for Seaside. A plan that would have brought new housing and commercial development to an area that has been neglected by the state for far too long. So why is Governor Malloy turning away a developer who is willing to invest in the community? Why is he making decisions without even speaking with town leaders? Why is he ‘imposing his will from Hartford’ – and doing the same exact thing he said was to blame for delaying project development across the state?” said Fasano.

“The legislature has not approved funding for a new state park. I plan to seek legislative support to keep the commitment to allow local development,” Fasano continued. “The fact that the governor kept the first selectman out of the loop is a clear sign that this was a political move not done to help the people of Waterford. The governor is painting a pretty picture of a new park. But there is no state money set aside for a park and there is no sign that the governor has a viable, achievable plan. Waterford was focused on pursuing a development plan that would have generated new jobs, income and opportunities in the community. But Malloy tossed aside this hard work for a press conference and a few photos.”

Also in the 2010 Jobs Roadmap, Malloy stated: “Economic decisions that impact our communities are too often left in the hands of Hartford bureaucrats. Quite often the best expertise can be found in those who work closest to the areas they serve. My administration will engage local officials and business leaders in decisions that will make their communities stronger, and their local economies more competitive.”

“The governor is not engaging local officials,” said Fasano. “He is acting like a typical Hartford bureaucrat. Both a campaign promise and a binding contract have been violated by the governor. His administration brushed off a local plan that involved no state funding and a developer who was prepared to invest on his own to remediate the property, alleviate the burden of ownership on the state, and bring new tax revenue and business opportunities to the town. The governor is preventing economic development, all to score political points.”

Senator Andrea Stillman and Representative Betsy Ritter are standing by Malloy’s park plan despite having supported selling the property to spark economic development in the past. Stillman led the local panel that first selected developer Mark Steiner’s plan in the late 1990s and advocated for redevelopment of the area. Ritter also previously applauded the contract between Steiner and the state, saying in a town hall meeting in January 2011: “We can finally take that property off of the state’s surplus list…And turn it into a useful, taxable property.”

“Why the change of heart?” Fasano asked. “Why go from advocating for the state to sell the property to now applauding the state for retaining the property? This quick decision is nothing more than a way to drum up political support by promising something that will be very hard to actually deliver.”