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Opinion: Tabor… or not Tabor? That Is The Question!

A letter to the editor from Indian Neck resident Fred Russo.

Before I decided to write this article, I thought it best to obtain as much background information as I could in order to be as objective as possible.

I did not want to make false or incorrect statements or erroneous accusations that would only undermine my position on this very important and sensitive issue. It was interesting and informative to read, in chronological order, articles dating back to 2010.

Each article contained information and points of view that often contradicted previous articles. There was lots of speculation as to exactly where the Town would propose to build its new $10,000,000 dollar (ten million) state of the art Public Works building.

At first glance, it appeared that the Town did its due diligence in trying to find a suitable location for the Public Works building. They hired consultants and engineers and documented their findings with charts, drawings and other information that seemed to favor the Tabor site.

When Town residents voiced their disapproval of the Tabor site with legitimate concerns, the Town graciously acquiesced and continued its search for the most appropriate location to build their garage. Once again, consultants, paid by the Town, did their best to convince opposing residents that Tabor was still the most viable location based on their findings.

I must confess that I am neither an engineer nor a consultant. I am a retired businessman who owns a home in the Indian Neck section of Town for the past twenty five years. I have raised a family of three daughters here and now have the good fortune and pleasure of helping with my grandchildren who live next door.

I love where I live. Long Island Sound is close by. Our streets are narrow and quaint. Most streets have no sidewalks. There are no stoplights and just a few stop signs. Residents walk, jog and bicycle the streets especially in the summer to exercise, catch a view of a marsh, get a scent of the ocean or patronize one of the many local shops or businesses along the way. Picturesque Rt. 146, a designated “scenic highway,” passes through the center of Indian Neck and follows the coastline out to Guilford.

Because of all of these aforementioned things …therein lies the problem. There is “an elephant” in the room and Town officials don’t (or won’t) see it. In turn, it has led me to wonder and question the integrity of the entire site selection process.

Did the consultants, paid by the Town, take into consideration the effect and impact this garage and the vehicular traffic it would generate have on the residents of Indian Neck, Hotchkiss Grove, Pine Orchard, Linden Shores and Pawson Park?  Indian Neck is the gateway to all of these adjoining neighborhoods.

Large Town trucks (and other types of vehicles that would service the garage) would be using our local streets and scenic highway as a means of egress to and from the garage. The garage would become a beehive of activity with cars, trucks, pay loaders as well as other Town related activities.

We were assured by the consultants (did I mentioned they were paid by the Town?) that the garage would not be visible to the general public … but then, neither is the dump (sorry… I meant to say landfill) on Tabor Road or the Sewerage Treatment Plant (did I say sewerage… I meant Sanitation Plant)   located off of Indian Neck Avenue.  Building a Public Works garage (darn… did I call it a garage? I meant.. service facility) on the Tabor site would make it a “Perfecta Trifecta” if the Town has its way.

Aside from the fact that the main road into the “landfill” has its own flooding problems, other roads that lead to and from the proposed site also flood especially during storms and high tide.

The consultants did not cite flooding as a real problem at Tabor yet they used the same reason and rationale to reject an available commercial piece of property that is suitable and more centrally located within the Town for the proposed Public Works garage.

First Selectman DaRos, a resident of Stony Creek, seems out of touch with residents in other areas of town.  Has he forgotten that Indian Neck residents have carried the burden over the last sixty years of having an oozing Town dump in their backyard? We also are encumbered with a sanitation plant that emits foul odors which are very obnoxious especially during a hot summer night when you are outdoors relaxing or during early morning when starting your day.

Our Second Selectman, Andy Campbell, seems hard pressed to understand the issues raised by property owners and residents concerning the construction of yet another Town run and operated commercial enterprise in our residential neighborhood. 

Both men voted “in favor” of this debacle. I would suggest to residents that any politician who votes “in favor” of this ill-conceived plan be put on notice that it may trigger a “vote out” of office during the next election.

It really seems like a no brainer to me. All it should take is a little logic and some common sense to arrive at the correct solution to the problem of where to locate the Public Works garage.

Here are a few thoughtful questions that I would like to submit as a property owner and resident of Indian Neck:

1). Doesn’t common sense dictate that a commercial building be built in a commercially zoned area and not in a residential area?

2). Shouldn’t the use of surrounding residential neighborhoods and streets as a means of egress to access the proposed site be the Town’s first consideration and not its last one in the site selection process?

3). Is the location of the proposed Public Works building more important than the toll this project will take on its residents and the adverse effects on the quality of their lives and neighborhoods?

4). Are certain elected officials so callous (or clueless) that they would blindly choose “a questionable location” over “the will of the people?”

5). The proposed Public Works building is going to cost Branford taxpayers approximately $10,000,000 dollars. (10 million)… assuming there are “no environmental issues at the landfill.” (sounds like an expensive oxymoron to you?)

6).Why do we need a new Public Works building?  Answer: Because the old one was razed to build the new Firehouse without Town officials first determining where Public Works would be permanently located… or… was it already decided that Tabor was always going to be the proposed site and all the rest was just smoke and mirrors trying to convince all of us that a bona fide search actually took place and that the consultants (paid by the Town) independently arrived at the same conclusion as our Town officials did two years earlier? Hmmmm?  Coincidence?  Happenstance? Twist of fate? Forked tongue?

I can only hope and pray that clearer thinking minds in Town government see the shortsightedness of this plan along with the long term ill effects it will have on its good citizens of Indian Neck and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Hey…Does anyone see the elephant in the room yet?       

By: Fred Russo (11/29/2012)
President Cocheco Avenue Association 
Board Member Eastern Indian Neck Association 

SolarPete December 03, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I would think a better site would be near where ur walmart is center located no flooding clear access to main streets no flooded under passes the only thing living there is skunks and hiway trucks easy access to every where
Ed December 03, 2012 at 05:26 PM
It should not be in a residential neighborhood.
bball fan December 03, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Oh ya, that would be great!!! If there is so much truck traffic from the PWD like all the opponents say, then that is last thing we need at that nightmare of a traffic intersection. But thanks for your input from 1000 miles away.
Amanda Ballou December 03, 2012 at 07:01 PM
I wish the town did not have all of these engineers and environmental companies under their thumb. It not fair to this town to have biased reports. I suggest resident to research the affects the chemical MTBE (found in all gasoline and diesel) which will be stored at public works. It has leached into the soil at several DOT and public works sites all over the state. To have these chemicals seep into our beautiful marshlands will, over time, destroy the environment. There are so many clear problems with this proposed site. Our voices are falling on deaf ears.
KJ December 03, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Fred, could you go back even further with the history of the Tabor land? I agree with you about the potential for a public works facility to be less than ideal in that location. I recall that there was an issue with the property being proposed as a site for affordable housing. Wasn't it then taken by eminent domain? Wasn't the rationale given for this (by Unk & Andy) that there was concern for this property being used inappropriately? Going even further back on this issue might sharpen the focus on the contradictions under which decisions seem to be made. KJ
KJ December 03, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Addendum to above: I see that Nicole Ball has concisely covered the history in her article on the patch. Thanks Nicole!
Frederick Russo December 03, 2012 at 10:35 PM
The Town claimed the land by eminent domain because of the fears that the polluted soil might bring lawsuits against the Town sometime in the future. Why would the Town put our public works employees in an environment that could be harmful to them. This entire undertaking by the Town is outrageous to say the least. The Branford Patch has a large archive of articles on the use of the dump. What I did find in my research of articles is that the Town definitely favored Tabor well before there was any study. Tabor was a forgone conclusion before the "study" was "made and paid for" by the Town.
Leesan Villa December 04, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I totally agree SolarPete! My family has said the same thing about the exact same location!!!
Leesan Villa December 04, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Children play, ride bikes and walk their dogs all the time in this neighborhood. Seniors take walks for exercise daily, always during business hours as well. Imagine the horror if an overworked truck driver a little dazed after hours of overtime runs a child or senior citizen over in our residential neighborhood with VERY narrow streets. Are you prepared for that scenario. This is a dangerous decision. You increase the chances of an accident by putting a Public Works garage in a neighborhood. The streets are narrow and everybody who lives here knows that Tabor Rd. practically floods daily! Is this to get back at that guy, Wayne Cooke? Is Unk looking to stick it to him by intentionally making such a bad decision?
Dr. Alfred C. Whitehead December 04, 2012 at 12:36 AM
@Amanda.. The Town does not have the consultans "under their thumb"... maybe more like "in their pocket"
SolarPete December 04, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Villa they will widen any access road to the site which will take away folks front or side yards Pineorchard road will be heavly used for to and from as an access The dump has polluted the water shed U know come to think of it the best place to put it would be where MIF use to be but that would be in the public eye and one good reason to hide it in tabor is out of sight out of mind dumping etc and a one of a kind 40 million wow wonder what that could build
Ray Ingraham December 05, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Sign the petition at : http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-public-works-at-tabor-property/

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