What a waste! When I began to read the latest scheme coming forth from our local political leadership, I wasn't surprised. The disorganized, unfocused parlor game that has become public policy has made not only our area the laughing stock of Connecticut, it has reinforced with the public the idea that politicians have no interest other than to make their cronies wealthy. The planned train station on Barnum Avenue in Bridgeport's abandoned wasteland of the East Side, a five minutes drive from Downtown's Intermodal Transit Center is the most shocking proposal I have heard in years. Not only will it undermine a struggling Main Street, giving that train depot greater competition (by the way Bridgeport station was only reconstructed in the 1970's) but it will expend political capital and resources.
Is the local Congressman doing anything, or is his idea of governance in Fairfield county to throw darts at a board to watch what will stick? You would have to understand the mess within our political structure to get a feel for how government can waste millions of dollars on crazy projects which bear little fruit in a recession. You must realize that the people of Bridgeport are disengaged from politics and because only 19% of voters turned-out last November, Finch and his crew claim a mandate which will impact the region. Finch has no mandate.
His goal of re-creating county government might be what he is going for, because us voters in the suburbs literally have no power over the trash heap that he manages, but we are not going to fall for that trap.
Myself having been involved in state politics since 1992, I remember outsider Finch and others from the local group of discredited politicos advocating the 'reformation' of the East Side. Thousands of square feet of abandoned and decaying factory space once was the gear which turned the Arsenal of Democracy. These buildings are unsafe and can only be torn down. Likewise, extensive housing projects were cleared twenty years ago and remain vacant fields. You do not construct a new train station in these midsts until you have concrete plans for development. Plans which the mediocre planning staff must first identify as solid opportunities from real capitalists. Because they can never seem to tell the difference between real and pie in the sky, get-rich-quick schemes, the place remains a wasteland. The former anchor of the neighborhood was Housatonic Community College, which they moved downtown to replace another vacant property.
Besides this never ending justification for re-election, the local power base does nothing but this shell game. Its like having an employee that keeps assembling the same car, just to tear it down and rebuild it. Bridgeport and Trumbull cannot afford the money at this point! We are not a lego set for incompetent public officials to experiment with.
Trumbull, which has been 'offered' a 500 space parking garage on Park Avenue north of Sacred Heart University, was once a beautiful place of forests and to raise a family it was once a simple and liveable small town. They have done their best to ruin it. Taxes continue to rise and you wonder how easily Finch, a former Trumbull resident and now Bridgeport stooge must have fit in, once he relocated near Mr Beardsley's park. We don't need a garage, Ed Lavernoich. We don't need a dubious profit scheme which will never result in revenue generation for us. What we need is leadership, we need you to send the women's clinic back to Fairfield Avenue and we demand our summer concert! We will gain nothing from it and we will waste increasingly limited available land for a favor to friends (who steal our land) instead of revenue generating sources. We will also bear the burden of police patrols.
So if this new train depot, tar pit in the middle of nowhere will not bring commercial activity in, and trust me Trumbull you folks are paying it, one way or the other, and it will negatively impact an already complex and busy northeast rail artery, causing increased delays for Amtrak and regional service along the important New York to Boston line. It will divide the train passengers along two groups those who will use the East Side and those who get to utilize downtown as their transit hubs, why this insanity?
One possible reason is that this new group of inexperienced insiders, drunk on personal connections is simply deciding, on a whim, to use their new-found power. They are all friends people. Bridgeport was a suburb of Trumbull, now we are their pet. Its a small world. In short they don't know what the hell they're doing, but heck they dress up and get to act important and they think that is what government service is about. That could be part of it, but I think the civil service is really directing some of this and I'll tell you why.
As part of the redevelopment of the intermodal transit system, and the closure of the hulking mass that is now the old bus terminal, a compromise ensured that there was adequate parking nearby. This was supplemented with the parking garage and fields near the Arena and Ballpark. Parking was initially free, and it was fantastic being merely a block or two from the train station. Now this convenient location, the entertainment complex, the new burgeoning restaurants and parking was starting to attract wealthy suburban professionals to the area, and they began to spur commerce while they used public transportation. Then the current administration, flush with its new influence, decided to hike up the rates at the parking center and instead place a Juvenile detention facility alongside the unfinished new bus station, this prison for youthful offenders replaced the convenient parking lot. Suddenly the new downtown arts area more resembled Sing Sing than SoNo. So you can see the priorities of Finch. The answer is incompetence, mismanagement and reactionary urban design. The new train station, which was once the location of jersey barriers to prevent drive by shootings has ample parking space...because there is nothing there. What you have to discern voters is, is this the vision of our future, or are we going to demand more from the people who draw a paycheck from the public treasury and whose power of office is in our name. Not on my watch, folks.