Search This Blog

Thursday, July 11, 2013

No grant for Simpson Court in Wallingford

As published online at Thursday, July 11, 2013 11:07 pm

By Andrew Ragali       
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224       

WALLINGFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday that 14 municipalities across the state were awarded a share of the $5 million Main Street Investment Fund. Wallingford, seeking $500,000 from the fund to renovate the Simpson Court parking lot near the intersection of Center and North Main streets, was left off the list.

“We knew it was a competitive grant,” Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said after learning the town will not receive the money. “Everyone was not guaranteed money, and I guess quite a few towns did apply. That’s the nature of the process.”

In all, 64 towns submitted projects worth a total of $26 million to the program, but the state only authorized spending $5 million. Not making the cut is “disappointing,” Dickinson said, “but certainly our concerns about the downtown and the needs for improvement here as well as the other facets and locations in town will continue.”

Dimple Desai, community development coordinator for the state’s Office of Policy and Management, said it was “the nature of the application” sent in by Wallingford that prompted the denial. Desai said the application was for maintenance and upkeep of the parking lot. But according to state statute, Desai said, any renovations that are solely the result of a lack of ordinary maintenance can’t be funded by the Main Street Investment Fund.

“It has to be maintained,” Desai said. “This should have been part of ordinary maintenance.”

Desai said a letter penned by three town councilors discrediting the town’s application for the grant had nothing to do with the denial.

“No, those letters were submitted after the application deadline,” Desai said. “Any documentation after the deadline will not be considered.

“To be fair to all, once the deadline was done, that was it,” he said.

Republican Councilor Craig Fishbein joined Democrats Jason Zandri and Nicholas Economopoulos in sending the Nov. 1 letter to the OPM. The town applied for the grant in late September.

“Components of the application do not appear to comply with the grant specifications and should be taken into consideration when reviewing the town’s application,” Fishbein wrote.

After learning why the state denied the town’s application, Zandri said, “That was a lot of the argument we made originally in the letter. ... Craig indicated that.”

Fishbein, in his letter, argued that elements of the Simpson Court project, such as repaving, restriping and new drainage, amount to normal maintenance and should be excluded.

A plan to renovate the parking lot backed by Dickinson, a Republican, and others was defeated in a 2011 referendum. That plan was similar to the one stalled by Thursday’s announcement from the state, but would have been funded through money the municipal Electric Division transfers to the town for capital projects, rather than from a state grant.

In past months, councilors have indicated their concern over the letter sent by Zandri, Fishbein and Economopoulos. In early June, Democrat John Sullivan said, regarding the letter, “I can’t help but feel it’s damaging” to the town’s chances of receiving grant money for the project. In January, Republican Councilor John LeTourneau, a supporter of the grant application, said the councilors are entitled to their opinions but felt the letter was misleading. Councilors found out about the letter in late January. Fishbein said he never intended for the letter, written in October, to be kept private and believed fellow councilors were aware of it when it was sent. But most councilors said they weren’t aware of the letter until the end of January.

“You have to assume it’s not helpful if there’s controversy over a project,” Dickinson said Thursday.

“I stand by my decision to sign that letter,” said Zandri, who is opposing Dickinson in the upcoming mayoral race.

“I had a good feeling about it, but I had no special reason to feel that way,” Town Council Chairman Bob Parisi, a Republican, said of the town’s chances of getting the grant. “The project was needed, well thought-out and well planned. I couldn’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be selected.”

In regard to what happens with the parking lot next, Parisi said, “I think we need to have a chat with the mayor.”

“I’m very disappointed,” LeTourneau said. “If it’s something we should be maintaining, they’re telling us we didn’t maintain it properly. That’s really not good, to lose a grant because we didn’t do what we were supposed to be doing.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Fishbein said, “but certainly I wouldn’t be pointing at the letter. I think the people have spoken through referendum.”

The future of the property may now come down to litigation, in LeTourneau’s opinion.

“It’s not going to go down a good road,” he said. “It’s all going to end up in litigation. That’s the long and short of it.”

“Could it end up in litigation?” Zandri asked. “Absolutely.”

Through a contractual agreement with business owners, upkeep of the lot was the town’s responsibility, Zandri said. “And it’s questionable if that work was done.”

“I don’t know,” said Dickinson when asked if litigation was possible. “Clearly the private property owners there have options that they can pursue.”

From here on out, Dickinson said, the town will have to wait and see what the next step is for the parking lot.

“If everybody can’t sit down and can’t negotiate some peaceful means of repairing the parking lot,” LeTourneau said, “well, then a judge is going to decide.”

Excerpts from DEEP notices / PDF of letter of violation

Via this link you can review the entire “Notice of Violation for solid waste violations in the Town of Wallingford.”

Below are the “Excerpts from DEEP notices” as published in the Record Journal on Sunday July 7, 2013

WALLINGFORD — The town has been cited for nine violations of environmental laws and regulations for its handling of waste at two town-owned properties — 91 N. Turnpike Road and 157 John St. The following are excerpts from the DEEP’s June 13 Notice of Violation addressed to Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.:

The purpose of this Notice is to inform you that personnel of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“DEEP”) have made observations or otherwise obtained information indicating that a violation of law has occurred at property located at 91 North Turnpike Road and 157 John Street in Wallingford, Connecticut. On May 15, 2013, an inspection was conducted by DEEP, Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance Assurance... Based upon that inspection, it appears that the town has:

1. Built, established, altered and/or operated a solid waste facility where more than ten cubic yards of solid waste including, but not limited to catch basin cleanings and oily wastewater, were disposed of after July 1, 1971, without a plan, design and method of operation of such solid waste facility having been filed with the Department and approved by the Commissioner by the issuance of a permit to construct and operate a solid waste facility...

2. Violated the Approval of Registration under the General Permit to Construct and Operate Certain Recycling Facilities to Operate a Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration ... at 157 John Street in Wallingford.

3. Violated the Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration ... at 157 John Street ... for failure to provide a berm so as to prevent run-on and failure to provide a spill containment system capable of containing 100% by volume of the contents of the 275 gallon existing used oil tank.

4. Violated the Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration ... at 157 John Street ... for failure to ensure that no person other than an employee of the facility, or person under the supervision of such an employee, may pour used oil into a collection container or tank at the facility.

5. Violated the Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration at 157 John Street ... for failure to provide an adequate temporary storage area for residents to drop off containers of used oil. This temporary storage area shall be adjacent to the used oil tank and shall, at a minimum, have a sufficiently impervious surface, have three walls and a roof, and provide for secondary containment.

6. Violated the Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration at 157 John Street ... for failure to store no more than sixty (60) scrap metal appliances containing CFCs on-site. Specifically, approximately seventy (70) individual units were observed on-site at the time of the inspection.

7. Failed to manage used oil as required by Section 22a-449(c)119(a)(2)(N) and (O) of the RCSA,incorporating Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“40 CFR”) 279.22(d), with specified changes.

8. Failed to ensure that used oil generated by the Town of Wallingford was transported only by transporters who had obtained EPA identification numbers as required...

9. Failed to have a permit to operate a used oil collection center as required... Specifically, there are certain regulatory requirements that must be met prior to aggregating the used oil from the used oil storage area’s secondary containment to an aggregation point.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Under the Department’s “Guideline for Municipal Management Practices for Street Sweepings and Catch Basin Cleaning” ..., street sweepings are allowed to be stored at a designated temporary storage location for less than one year. The Town of Wallingford stated that the existing street sweepings stockpile at 91 North Turnpike Road accumulated over three years. The Town of Wallingford is required to either reuse in accordance with the Department’s guideline or send off-site for disposal at a permitted facility all street sweepings from this site. The Town of Wallingford is advised that the violations cited above can reasonably be expected to create a source of pollution to the waters of the State, by a release of used oil and other solid waste to the ground. Such a condition would be in Violation of CGS Section 22a-427, and would require action by the Town to remedy this condition.