To the Editor:
In the middle of Stamford Harbor’s west branch, there is a 14-acre barren peninsula standing nearly vacant since 2012. It is a forlorn reminder of the city’s history as a robust regional maritime center, and of the jobs, industry, and vibrant businesses now gone. It is also stark evidence that there are two sets of rules in our society. One set is recorded in law books, constitutions, and charters while the other is written by those in power and the well-heeled in plush offices and back rooms. Federal laws, state regulations, and local agreements that were in place to protect this valuable resource were broken, by passed, or ignored in order to access this special property for something other than the maritime use it had been for over a century. For those who have followed the events leading to this outcome, it offers some disturbing questions as to how and why it came to be. Here are some of them:
- After the large, successful, regional boatyard was razed from the 14-acre peninsula by Building and Land Technology, Stamford’s Zoning Board applied a “cease and desist” order on the property. This led to several years of public hearings as to how to proceed. Some were contentious with opposition from the public as well as the Planning Board, and Stamford’s Harbor Management Commission. After some underhanded tactics by the city’s administration (under the previous mayor) came to light, an outspoken member of the Zoning Board was replaced. Given that there were no changes to state laws — the Coastal Area Management Act — or the city’s Harbor Management Plan, why did the Zoning Board eventually go along with the developer? Why were millions of dollars of fines forgiven by the city?
- The Connecticut DEEP clearly supported the original development plan (with “Antares Group” the original developer) to keep the boatyard operating on the 14-acre site by agreement with the City of Stamford. Why did everything change for both DEEP and the city when Building & Land Technology took over development?
- Where are the mandated reports that are usually given to state and local authorities as to the remediation of this previously contaminated site? Hundreds of tons of fill have since been added to raise the level of the site. Does anyone have confirmation that this was “clean” fill? Millions of dollars of state aid were given for the remediation. Can Connecticut provide assurance that it was properly done?
- A marina facility (with its supporting infrastructure) was approved for this site over six years ago. Where is it? Why hasn’t the work begun?
- How is it that Connecticut’s DEEP had authority to grant “public domain” to the developer when the property was to be bulkheaded?
- Why is Stamford’s Harbor Management Commission the only entity looking for answers?
- DEEP considers the new, far smaller boatyard, to be a “stand-alone” facility on Southfield Ave. and not a replacement for the large, regional facility that was razed by the developer, BLT. Does this mean that a replacement will be built going forward, or will the City be in violation of the Coastal Area Management Act?
- Stamford’s present boatyard is approximately one third of the way through the 15-year lifespan of the “claw-back” agreement between the City and the developer. By this agreement, the City can obligate the developer to operate the facility for the remaining years. What will become of the only remaining boatyard when the time is up?
- Why hasn’t the Magee Ave. portion of the boatyard (a service and storage facility for trailered boats) been completed in compliance with the zoning certificate issued?
- Why is contaminated soil being transported in un-covered trucks from the B & S Carting site in Stamford to the supposedly remediated 14-acre clean site, videos to be provided!
- Why is the contaminated soil not being transported, weighted and shipped off to both Massachusetts and PA as previously done on the 14 acre site?
In general, most reasonable people understand that when questions are asked and not answered, it is because someone has something to hide. In general, most reasonable people can lose faith in government when transparency and accountability are withheld.
Dinter and Boylan are part of a Stamford-based group calling itself “Save Our Boatyard.”