Sunday, January 27, 2008

Despair over the backyard fence

Here are what some potential future neighbors of the Army Reserve Training Center have to say about the well-orchestrated Corps of Engineer Meeting last Thursday at Middletown's City Hall. Needless to say, little trust in the Army or our elected officials:
On Jan 25, 2008 Karen Torop wrote:
Last night I was exhilarated because there was so much support and unity. But this morning I felt pretty low because I realized that our united community opposition means nothing to the Army. It is a necessary but not sufficient basis. And I do not trust the mayor at all. He and his friends may well be crying all the way to the bank, so to speak, if Freeman Road ends up being the site. They will have their sewers. And funneling suggestions through Bill Warner's office seems to me like the fox guarding the hen house, although he may be responsible about it. I sure hope so.

I think that the pressure will have to come from higher powers like the DEP, maybe NU, our legislators, Rell (I plan to call the Coxes to urge them to do that). Katchen Coley will lobby personally in Lieberman's office, where she apparently knows the environmental person, because she will be in DC soon. Gail Hamm is doing a great job.

The letter from Gina McCarthy was very encouraging-I really liked that she was "surprised to learn of the Army's interest" in the Freeman road property. I read it as “What are they thinking of?!”
We should write again to Dodd, Lieberman, and as for Rosa, I will call her office again and let them have it, for a start. Others might do the same. Maybe she forgot that we are her constituents.

Most of all I am hopeful that Susan Bysiewicz will come through. Her Director of Constituent Concerns was at the meeting last night. I will write to her Monday. I have some more things to tell her since I talked to her on Wed. She talked of contacting various people, including Gen. Martin of the National Guard, Gina McCarthy at DEP and possibly Richard Blumenthal. I will keep what pressure I can on her. It really is discouraging, to say the least, that a united community, one willing to find alternative sites and so passionate about saving Freeman Road, has no impact on the Army, that they are so obdurate and impervious.

Paul thinks that it is bluff, and that they did not expect the mayor to double-cross them. I see them as rigid and determined to do just what they want to do, the human and environmental factors (meaning wildlife, not contaminated groundwater) be damned. So we need help from people and groups with power they will have to listen to.

On Jan 25, Barrie Robbins-Pianka wrote:
That awful Army meeting was a bitter reality check. We little ants will be crushed by the Army's personable Big Boot. I feel so foolish to have thought that logic, or intelligent planning would have any impact on the Army's machine-like mission to site this Monstrosity in Middletown on Freeman Road. Not so long ago the National Guard was touting itself as Connecticut's "hometown Army" on account of scattered small bases. The Army's tune and "needs" have indeed changed to embrace two mega-centers, one in Newtown one in Middletown. Middletown got its name in the BRAC report long, long ago, probably on account of the Nike Base. We are not going to find out when and how this happened. And that personable Diane McCartin knows her mission and what to say to get it done, especially when there is any question about environment or suitability or any other little thing! How frustrating.

The City made a good show of unity but how can they be credible and undo what they undoubtedly did in the past? Remember, the Army met with B. Warner and M. Wackers and discussed the scope of the project in Oct 2006 and by the following spring the Army reps were seen walking in the Freeman Road meadow. And really what can the City do now? Can they help by suggesting to Northeast Utilities that selling this property would be a poor choice? Will NU then suggest a different piece of Maromas? Can the City get behind the DEP with supportive talk? Can the City be expected to take a real estate agent's approach to what the Army might consider as a good alternative? Because if the DEP and/or CL&P get Freeman Road and Maromas out of the picture, the Army idiots insist that Middletown is the only community they will consider for a site. To date, the Army is on schedule, following the timetable in the Project Operations Description. This month they are advertising, seeking Requests For Proposals divided into two phases. By next October they will Award the $78,000,000 Contract. If you believe in a Higher Power, now would be a good time to make an appeal.

I do not like to be so pessimistic but clutching to the hope that yet another of our public servants, S. Bysiewiecz, will do the right thing, seems far fetched. Where has she been? In a cave? And that namby, pamby Adjutant General Martin has already deferred responsibility to the personable Corps of Engineers. It makes me gag.

I think it may come down to someone having a great deal of influence on our Governor. How depressing is that! I am full of Gloom and Doom. That being said, I am not ready to crawl away or put my head back in the sand. What positive actions can we citizens take to achieve our goal to prevent the Freeman Road desecration and find a least painful spot for what is coming to our community? Help!

On Jan 26, Paul Torop wrote:
I agree that we should not let up just because we have public support and because the position expressed at the meeting by the army is laughable. I really think that we should not be discouraged.

It was hard for me to take Thursday's meeting seriously. I saw it as theater complete with a washed out southern belle and extras in fatigues. The 'Project Manager" was not knowledgeable about the process in Middletown. She was more of a PR person delivering a canned speech.

Did she do this because she couldn't think fast enough to do otherwise or because even if Freeman Road is off the table, talking about Freeman Road kept the audience from demanding that the base not be in Middletown or at least not in the CT River watershed or because the army did not appreciate the new conditions on the ground (the mayor switching sides)?

At any rate, I am more angry than discouraged by Thursday's spectacle.

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