Representative Rosa Delauro invited Westfield residents, city councilors, and the owners of the property coveted by the Army, to talk about the proposal to build an Army Reserve Training Center on Boardman Lane in the Westfield section of Middletown.
Because it was a private meeting, I agreed not to report on the meeting itself, but only on the press presentation which followed.
Delauro reported that at the meeting Westfield residents, and others from Middletown, council members, the mayor, Sebastian Giuliano and Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, discussed and debated the proposed Army Base. Westfield residents oppose the siting of the training center in Westfield for a number of reasons, from environmental and traffic concerns, to questions about the economic impact of the base. New concerns about water, sewer and flood issues surfaced.
At this point Delauro, Giuliano and Bysiewicz are all opposed to building the training center on the site in Westfield. All cited the intractability of the Army, and their lack of communication on the topic, as problems in solving the siting issue. Delauro and Bysiewicz are also amenable to having the training site built outside of Middletown, while Giuliano stills supports building the training center on one of three city-recommended sites, a site adjacent to the Pratt and Whitney plant on Aircraft Road, a site next to the Kleen Energy plant on River Road, and a site behind an auto junkyard on Saybrook Road. All three sites are technically in Maromas.
Delauro has promised to lobby Secretary of the Army Geren, and along with Bysiewicz has authored a letter to Governor Jodi Rell, who is commander-in-chief of the Connecticut National Guard, and may have some influence in determining where the training center is built.
The press conference drew all four local TV stations, two newspapers, the state TV station CTN, and at least three radio reporters. Delauro, Bysiewicz, Giuliano (the three political leaders who are most deeply involved in the issue) and Jennifer Mahr, a representative of the Westfield Residents Association addressed the gathered reporters. Then a parade of less-directly-involved, though concerned, politicians including state representatives Ray Kalinowski, state senator Paul Doyle and state representative Joe Serra (who was not at the meeting with residents because of a dental appointment), took the opportunity for a little political grandstanding before the gathered cameras. Also in attendance was state representative Brendan Sharkey who represents governor Jodi Rell's push for smart growth.
It's become clear that the Army will have a fight on its hands if it insists on the Boardman Lane site, but it's not clear whether they will abandon Middletown, or reconsider building on brownfield sites.
The Middletown Common Council meets on August 4th to consider a resolution which will oppose the Army Corps of Engineer's choice of the Westfield site.
As Mayor Giuliano indicated, that to make the site buildable, "thousands of tons of trap rock will be shifted into wetlands. If the city had asked the Corps of Engineers to approve the site for the building of the new high school, they would have stopped us."