The real Metro Center culprit
Published 3:40 pm, Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The questions and recent fallout over the financial dealing behind the Metro Center project should leave Fairfield residents -- and voters -- with one true judgment call to make. That is to put the cost-overrun onus on the right party responsible and the individuals involved. As one who has been following these issues knows, the facts make clear, it is not our former first selectman or his town counsel.
From letters to the editor such as "Democrats own Flatto mess" already splashed about to the junk-mail flyers of the "loyal" (read Tea Party) Republican opposition, it is easy to see right through the campaign warping.
The project has been the largest, most complex, most expensive and most far-reaching development in the town's history. There was no prior-experience, measuring map to apply to its added convolutions of remediating the old Bullard Company "brown field" and restoring, to some acceptable degree, the Ash Creek littoral wetlands and open space. Its administration and contracting was not perfect. And with respect to its immensity, over all this time, it isn't realistic to assume it could have been. Two town administrations, now a third, together with the state, dealt in good faith with Black Rock Realty, amid its overextended projections of space sales, fuzzy permit followthrough, cost underestimations of tainted soils to handle and apparently less-than-firm refinancing as the economy fell.
If anything is obvious, the $7 million cost overrun responsibility should lie with Black Rock Realty and as its further development of the property proceeds, the town and the state should secure proportional reimbursement from it even if it means placing liens on its sale proceeds. Meanwhile, we can have enough confidence that our chief executives did what they had to do in overall taxpayer interest under constantly-changing circumstances.
For all its temporal faults, the project has been done for the good and mass transit need of the town, and that will ineluctably resonate for the public a very short time, when officials cut the ribbons and the first trains and cars arrive and depart.