During Wednesday's [New Britain CT] Common Council meeting, Democratic mayoral challenger James Wyskiewicz voiced his opposition to the city's downtown revitalization strategy, which hinges on downtown housing, and a new downtown police station on the corner of Main and Chestnut streets.
At the meeting, Mayor Timothy Stewart said anyone who would oppose the police station project is opposed to downtown revitalization.
The plan, which was endorsed by the Common Council in May, is to let New York-based Arete Group, a developer and master planner for the city, surround the new police station with retail, residential buldings and an event center - once the city acquires the existing 121-131 Main St. buildings, which now house a check-cashing service and a Subway sandwich store.
"We are trying to recreate what happened in Middletown," Stewart said Thursday in reference to the new police station in downtown Middletown, nestled right in the heart of a host of new restaurants, stores, theaters and other attractions.
Wyskiewiscz had previously voted with the majority of the council to take over the property through eminent domain when the city was willing to pay more than $700,000. But he voted against the council's motion to set a $1.02 million price tag with the court, which is based on fair market value, saying it was too much.
"On top of that," Wyskiewicz said, "the mayor is talking about selling to Arete Group. Arete is supposed to look at all downtown. Why didn't the mayor tell Arete to talk to the owners of 121-131 Main St.?"
Stewart said the answer is simple: "Arete is not a party to the eminent domain proceedings."
He scoffed at Wyskiewicz's accusation and called it just another attack from the Democrats. Then it got personal.
Stewart said the company holding Wyskiewicz's mortgage has filed foreclosure proceedings.
"He wants to run the city and he can't even take care of his own finances," Stewart said. "It's a difficult issue. I don't wish that on anybody. But it is created by the individual. The guy can't pay his bills."
Wyskiewicz would not comment on the court action that had previously been filed against him and his wife by Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. in 2005 in New Britain Superior Court.
"It's not an issue," Wyskiewicz said. "We renegotiated it. It was not in foreclosure."
Wyskiewicz was joined by fellow Democratic aldermen Adam Platosz, Paul Catanzaro and Lawrence Hermanowski Wednesday, who have called themselves, fiscally conservative Demcorats.
Hermanowski is on the police building committee, which has studied a number of potential sites for a new police station. He said he thinks instead of the Main Street site that the mayor wants to acquire, the city should put it by the railroad tracks across from NewBrite Plaza.
He said the minutes to the meeting was wrong when it said the council voted unanimously in favor of taking the case to eminent domain.
"I have always opposed eminent domain of the Main Streeet property," he said, adding that instead of taking land through eminent domain, the city should take it for the $60,000 in back taxes that is owed on the property.
"Put a lien on it for back taxes," Hermanowski added. "Why should we end up having to pay for this building?"
Stewart said the building owner owes $57,258.
He said when $200,000 was owed by a previous owner, a bank sold it off to Garden Main Street LLC.
Neverless, "We should not be in the real estate byusiness," Hermanowski said. "Take it and get rid of it."
New Britain CT Herald: http://www.newbritainherald.com