November 1 - 8, 2006
By MIKE MCGARRY, The Hartford News Staff Writer
What a joke: 120 acres buried forever – costing at least 32 million dollars, with 30 years of potential obligations and trouble.
On Thursday, October 26, 50 or so city residents and officials (Dr. Bob Painter and Lee Erdmann were there) heard all manner of fanciful ideas for the 120 acres (on a rail line, a highway and a river …) such as: dog runs, motor cross, walking trails, etc. A real economic generator, recycled dog poop.
Your author, admittedly, has been a royal pain about this issue for many years and finds the desperation of the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to bury the 120 acres as the real issue. The Department admits it is only interested in capping and closing the land. It has never done an economic analysis of the lost tax revenue, jobs or value-added potential of that land vs. costs to remediate. A spokesman said “it could cost 10 million, 100 million or a billion to eliminate the material.” O.K. bud, how much? How long? Why all at once? What is the hurry? Millions will be spent for little or nothing.
The state has never even (it seems) looked at the 20-30 closed landfills around the state as opportunity – only as continuing costs to taxpayers. Somebody, please wake up; what ever happened to smart growth? We pave farmland and cut grass on old landfills.
Your pest of a commentator brought up the idea of a badly needed access road – East Service Road – opening up the empty land in the northern portion of the North Meadows. Wow, did we surprise all the high paid CRRA and DEP officials. Road? Road? What a good idea! How much are these geniuses paid?
Before we commit to 30 million, 40 million, 50 million in ongoing costs – shouldn’t we (the City, the State, the DEP, CRRA) advertise the whole project out as a wide open Request for Proposals? Offer 120 acres on the river, on a rail line, on a highway to world-wide developers. If we offered the level of subsidy to such as that we gave to the players on and off Columbus Boulevard, don’t you think some interest might be forthcoming?
The trip to the top of the Landfill last Saturday was also informative. When the methane gas is no longer usable for making electricity, they will flame it off. So much for all the effort to reduce global warming. Also, the CRRA representative admitted that the 1982 agreement was a “poor lease.” Your servant has read that document and, for once, CRRA is right.
The legal battle between the city and CRRA is still up in the air. The 1982 & 1989 leases stick the city with the whole deal. Will the money be spent before the legal ramifications – 30 years of responsibility – are settled?