UPDATED: Haddam Developer Makes Land Swap Presentation to East Haddam EDC

Architect Steve Rocco Says DEP Was in Favor of Land Transfer Since 2006

Haddam architect Steve Rocco made his pitch before the East Haddam Economic Development Commission Thursday night for a transfer of 17 acres of state-owned land near the Connecticut River in exchange for an 87-acre tract that developers own near Cockaponset State Forest in Higganum.

His Power Point (see attached) presentation explained what he sees as the benefits of the land swap.

Rocco began the meeting with a history of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection's involvement in the proposed transfer of land in the Tylerville section of Haddam and Higganum.

The DEP, Rocco says, was in favor of the land swap in 2006, but circumstances placed the plan on hold.

“This was approved by the DEP, but then unfortunately Gina McCarthy, the commissioner, got hired by the Obama Administration to go to the [Environmental Protection Agency a year ago]. David Leff retired [in April 2006] because of a back problem. Thomas Morrissey, outdoor recreation bureau chief, took early retirement [July 2009]. "These were three people involved in this and we basically were orphans,” Rocco said.

The architect spoke of the economic benefits to Haddam and East Haddam.

"This idea of tying the two towns together … I’ve been bouncing it around with people since the ‘90s. I was part of this idea called Swing Bridge Merchants Association, I’ve lived down here on the other side since ‘85. I think there’s such a willingness on both sides because we know the synergy of the two — it’s critical mass. The more you have, the more people will come. Right now, there’s not enough to sustain a real healthy environment — here or over there.”

Commissioner Patricia Stricker questioned Rocco about a possible anchor tenant in the proposed plan.

“I’m going to put on my hotelier hat,” she said. “I was director of sales for over 20 years. Are you going to be looking at a flagship hotel or are you going to be looking at an independent hotel?”

Trevor Furror is president of the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station. “Preliminary indications are an individual hotel,” he said. “It could be anywhere from 30-70 [rooms]. I wouldn’t see it being any bigger than 70.”

EDC coordinator Melissa Ziobron told Rocco of the importance of keeping East Haddam Village business owners’ considerations an integral part of expansion in Haddam and encouraging activity and commerce on both sides of the Connecticut River.

“My main concern has always been a pedestrian walkway on the Swing Bridge,” said Ziobron. “For two years now, I’ve been trying to get funding to be proactive because I knew this was coming down the line. Our concern for the village is nobody is going to be bothered to come across the bridge if all the development is in Haddam. What is going to incentivize them to come over the bridge?

Ziobron also expressed concern over the cruise ship that docks at Eagle Landing State Park on the Haddam side of the Connecticut River board and unload passengers only there in past years.

“For the second summer in a row, we have had many complaints from local businesses regarding the boat, Lady Catherine cruises, that docked over in Haddam. The Goodspeed Opera House is owner of the dock down there and [village business owners] felt by directing all customers over to Haddam to get on the boat to go on a tour and then come to the Goodspeed, they really felt the loss of revenue and foot traffic when they incorporated that.”

“We all see common sense benefit of having the boat go to both sides of river, but what is the reality of that?” she asked.

There may be a General Assembly hearing on the conveyance bill issue in Hartford Monday. The agenda has not yet been posted.

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Gene Bartholomew March 14, 2011 at 10:08 PM
There's the rub, that is the problem, THE LEGAL PRECEDENT this would make. And what of Sunrise??? join me on Facebook, Connecticut State Park Protectors
l March 14, 2011 at 10:43 PM
The First Selectmen doesn't like the current plans for the school. Look at the plan, the park or green should be in front of the Goodspeed. They want to keep the current town office building. It's on the registry of historic places. That does't mean it can not be moved. The cost is not as much as one might think. Less than it will be to bring it up to code. Drivers have a hard enought time not running over the crosswalk sign. The tractor trailers cross the yellow line at the bridge and the town offices. What about the truck deliveries, they park in the street.
Nathan Hale March 15, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Politicians LIKE numbers right ? Well here are some numbers for you.. If you think on a small scale like say... Just the 33rd district, OUR state senator Eileen Daily represents an avg of 94.600 residents (couldn't find the exact number if anyone can help) but based on that number alone and not the entire population of Ct. which would be affected by this "land swap" the jobs created by this hotel complex wouldn't even be half of 1% (1% would =946 jobs) that's just based on the 33rd dist. Now if you boil it down to people who actually voted in the last election that number is 39,718, !% of that number would be 398 jobs created. even if that number of jobs were created, would that be acceptable to the taxpayers of Ct.? This isn't like giving tax credits to large corporations to save thousands of jobs, this just reeks of backroom wheeling and dealing that wont benefit the masses, Just the few !!! the very few.
Nelson Struck March 15, 2011 at 12:14 AM
400 jobs is a big stretch. We can all understand why Steve Rocco is involved, it's his business. My question is why does Eileen Daily repeatedly push this?
Diana V. Link March 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM
I must apologize for my rash comment about Ilene Dailey. I have always liked her and voted for her...until this year. I can see no GOOD reason for her to be pushing the land swap through.
Lynn Herlihy March 15, 2011 at 11:18 AM
l March 15, 2011 at 02:23 PM
A sign of good faith and commitment would be to donate the 87 acres to the State. That would make a nice tax write off. When starting any buisness taxes should be the first thought.
Gene Bartholomew March 15, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Excellent question, it is very very odd, have you seen her?? She freaks out and starts screaming, THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN !!! THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN!!!! On the outside it would be appear she owes someone something, so she should alter her persona, because on face value this has never had any merit, a new theater is a joke, people come here for the Victorian theater, NOT theater per se', Price is another piece of work, he would have abandoned E. Haddam and moved to Middletown, remember??? But they are out of it now for whatever reason, I thought perhaps he courted Joe Courtney in Israel to get this done, but nothing seemed to come of it. And a hotel doesn't hold much water either, although I did meet some military people getting married at Riverhouse who were taking pictures at Eagle Landing, they came on a bus from NY, seemed to know all about the new hotel coming etc etc, plus Riverquest has been promised more work so they are into it, without thinking of the consequences to other State Parks. I do believe that if this were handled correctly it could be done, that would include appraisals for all property by 3 agencies, then Rocco has to pay the State the difference in full, because 1- we are broke 2- conveying any State Park or conservation land puts all other land like it in jeapardy 3- its the right thing to do, no one deserves special treatment, OR convey some state land to me, I'll make a business on it, in a few years, not sure what, may change my mind ; )
Gene Bartholomew March 15, 2011 at 09:32 PM
It is what our nation has become, I just saw a report on Energy Efficiency money spent here, in one program Ct had 131 mil, UTC got 120mil + of it, you know how many homes in CT could have gotten high eff upgrades???? and now in DC, the Repubs are cutting everything for the people to continue the corporate welfare they created, now its lies about S/S, S/S has a ton of money, plenty till like 2050 in bonds, they just want to take that money and have us forced to give to Wall St, who will conveniently LOSE your retirement just as you retire so sick of them all
Gene Bartholomew March 15, 2011 at 09:36 PM
and CT didn't change much after Rowland was bagged, he kept his mouth shut, did his few months and has now been rewarded with whatever he wants including his own radio show complete with his preacher with him they were creative, like they bought a dilapidated Mustang conv, spent 100k restoring it, then gave it to him for a birthday present, then he sold it that is how these payoffs work, or like when he sold his condo for more than it was worth, its all very creative and hard to track this State is very very very corrupt
Gene Bartholomew March 15, 2011 at 09:39 PM
You woke up, I never liked her, even when she was Westbrooks 1st Selectman, but when I wrote her about concerns of Rowland she never even responded, and I hear that a lot from people, people call or write and she picks and chooses or ignores. She never debates a challenger head on or takes q's from the public either.
Freedom of Speech March 15, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Let me pose this question: Is a view of the Opera House, and antique Swing Bridge not a "scenic area"?? Much of the 17 acre parcel has a view of the Opera House and bridge. Including the "sand pit." In this respect the "sand pit" that everyone is referring to, which has beautiful flowers and grasses in the summer, is quite "scenic" indeed. You are quite misled if you believe otherwise... And I find it ironic that no pictures from the developers have shown this fact. Don't be easily led. Go to the property and see for yourself.
Lynn Herlihy March 16, 2011 at 12:01 AM
Gene, The bill you are talking about is Bill #1196, it is a conveyance Bill. You need to look at Section 14 both A & B these deal with Haddam. You can go on a Gov. website can't remember but try ctgov.com and you can track the bill. If this is not right call the party of your choice and have an aide give you the correct website and details about tracking a bill.
Curious March 16, 2011 at 12:33 AM
That is the correct bill - I just looked it up - Pretty much says same thing - still includes Goodspeed but note the "or" between Goodspeed and Riverhouse. That is significant - last year said "and or" - previous year said "and" (that is the only language I can see that has changed). Need to watch for hearing date. It is important to go to hearing and voice your opinions. If you can't, you can mail in something to the GAE - (Govenment and Elections Committee) it is on the website http://www.cga.ct.gov/gae/ Contact the members or send a letter - email addresses and mailing address here at this link. Get others to do the same. If you speak at hearing, you need to get there early, sign in to speak and bring 40 copies with you. It is really important for these people to hear or read your opinions - only takes a few minutes to do so -
Gene Bartholomew March 16, 2011 at 08:40 PM
I have something to share as well and please spread this around, this a conveyance bill from 2007, it is a good example of how to do it correctly without screwing the people over. go to: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1753433460#!/pages/Connecticut-State-Park-Protectors/205161212828947 or: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2007/ACT/SA/2007SA-00011-R00HB-07386-SA.htm
Lauren March 22, 2011 at 04:12 PM
This is what I don't understand... There is only one Goodspeed's Station and my family has owned and operated it for the past 18 years, it is located at 22 Bridge Rd. in Haddam. However, all these fantasy "drawings" say Goodspeed's Station. If Mr. Rocco and friends can just come in and swipe a local business's name as if they don't exist, I can only imagine what they will REALLY do to our quaint town of Haddam.
Gene Bartholomew March 22, 2011 at 05:13 PM
They want to develop the property to make money, but they have no plan, just drawings and what ifs, fact is the area is pretty dead, it will never be Mystic or Orlando, the roads and infrastructure won't support it And this debacle, the developers have no concrete plan, they have dreams, ideas, wishes but there are no guarantees, I think if their money was on the line things would be different, look, they spent @400k on a piece of land to develop, then they looked at this land and went hmmmmm, "hey Eileen, can we do a swap??", but they didn't think it through, when you have a Senator that always sides with business and never with the people it is very dangerous to keep reelecting them and Eileen is no exception, she always sides with business as many do because they are closer to the business execs than the people, the people become a thing that votes for you, unless they pay attention, most of us don't have the time to watch our elected leaders as close as we should. There has to be a better way of building the economy while ensuring The Peoples money, land, and resources aren't squandered.
l March 23, 2011 at 01:56 AM
"Term limits" They shouldn't be just for Presidents anymore! There should be a bumper sticker GOT TERM LIMITS?
Laurie Alt March 23, 2011 at 04:18 AM
Please keep focused on the comments from people who are not being paid to promote this fiasco. The GateWay Commission, and all the taxpayers of CT who are willing to have their tax dollars used to PRESERVE open space, NOT put a PLACEHOLDER on property until developers who, by the way, HAVE NO APPROVED PLANS, decide they would like to make an UNEVEN swap. THIS IS ABOUT THE ST OF CT KEEPING ITS WORD! What trust can we have if this becomes a precedent. PLEASE, CT Legislators, DON'T LET THIS SWAP GO THROUGH!
Nathan Hale March 24, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Ya' know know what? We shouldn't "Be Hating On " Rocco & the Riverhouse Partners. Really, think about it....... They're only doing what made this country great, trying to grow a product , through expansion & development. BUT...... "A mans reach should exceed his grasp" This may be just like our kids who keep probing "the envelope" We can only blame those who (insert politician ) facilitate deals that seem to thrive in the shadows (late night end of the session insertion into a bill) . Remember the perpetrators @ the ballot box. We all get a vote, payback is a b@#$h . Nobody cam blame them for wanting to grow their business, but like w/the kids sometimes you need to Re-direct their energy . Enough is enough, lets find some other way for them to succeed in Haddam. Maybe the old state garage property?? Who knows? but the bottom line is This property has already been "saved" by conservation , to undo that would truly be bad mojo. So lets start brain stormin' to find a more viable aternative.
Freedom of Speech March 24, 2011 at 02:55 AM
BREAKING NEWS http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2011/03/wouldbe-developers-claims-are.html
Ron Snow March 24, 2011 at 03:05 AM
Hey,Nate great way of thinking ! That makes alot of sense, people should be encouraging development . I think it's great that the riverhouse group would want to spend more money in this region. Think about it, they like the area so much, they're willing to take a P.R hit to try and increase their investment here. So what is it about our area that is so enticing ? The River ? The Bridge ? The view of The Opera House ? The Tiny riverside Goodspeed Airport ? Don't 'cha just LOVE watching a plane fly over the bridge ? Think about all that we could enjoy if we're responsible to the possibilities of the future. If East Haddam is bound to get rid of the town hall parcel , I think the best course of action would be to TRADE it to the Goodspeed for their parking lot parcel on the river. Then they ( The Goodspeed) could build a new venue to compliment the Classic Opera House. Maybe looking like the old Goodspeed mansion that once resided on that very property. Wow what synergy! Very similar to "church Street Station vibe in Orlando . that would be an attraction! And Oh! waht a park we could have on the river. Better even than what Deep River already enjoys .
Ron Snow March 24, 2011 at 03:36 AM
If that option ever becomes available, I hope that both parties would seriously consider how it could REALLY become a much bigger tourism draw than any other potential commercial development of the town owned parcel. Maybe, just Maybe , We COULD build up the tourism around here even more. Now all of a sudden you combine that with the properties that the Goodspeed could make available (now that they're gettin' their new actors housing built) and you could form a larger (taxble) commercial village. Add the much sought sfter sidewalks....And OH BOY ! How COOL a setting that would be." Hey Honey let's go down to La Vita (or The Gelston House) get some dinner,than maybe an ice cream (Hillside Sweethouse) and walk down to Riverfront park at Goodspeed Landing,and watch the boaters and the sunset".
Ron Snow March 24, 2011 at 03:54 AM
Hey any "Twilight Zone" fans out there ? "Picture this if you will" The time is summer 2016 You're heading to the "Swingbridge Riverfest" in Haddam/East Haddam. Off exit 7 left onto state route 154 then right onto rte 82 at Tylerville Village business district. Then you find parking at Eagle Landing State Park. "man is it crowded, @ 10;30am <boy am I glad I came early ! " Anyway, my family and I wait in line to get on the ferry boat over to the East Haddam side, I hear that some of the actors from the Goodspeed are having a workshop w/the public (my daughter really wants to check that out) But I'm here for the food ! I heard that all the village eateries from both sides of the river are operating booths. @ 1pm at the Gazeebo theres gonna be musical entertainment. I hope to walk the East Haddam village and check out the variety of shops that are offered.I haer there's a church w/a really old bell and it's next to a really old cemetary rich w/history.
Ron Snow March 24, 2011 at 04:14 AM
Now it's about 6pm, only a couple more hours 'til the Fireworks, I heard that the barge on the river is something to see w/all of it's pyrotecnics . It's SOOOO COOL listening to the Moodus Drum And Fife play as I'm watching "the bombs burstin' in air" It gave proof, through the night, that people still care. Oh say could Weeeeeee have a nice, Parrrarrrk like thaaaat ? (you're darn right we could) Anyway i digress. Now, the festivities are over and it's time to "cross the river" and join the long line of vehicles leaving this locale.The traffic isn't nearly as bad as I anticipated. The traffic control is being handled wonderfully by the local police. My wife and daughter are both dozing off. A nice short drive home, and it's the perfect ending to an AWESOME day ! YES, I realize I have an active imagination , BUT couldn't you just envision an area ripe w/tourism and prosperity for our two river towns ? Any other imaginative people out there ???
Ron Snow March 24, 2011 at 04:31 AM
I inadvertantly forgot to mention the POSSIBILITY of riding the Old Essex Steam Train to get to the weekend festivities ,which would be available w/pickups all along the river line. (In 2013 the state invested large sums into "daycation type " ecconomic development initiatives, the rail line expansion being one of the recipiants of that). Trains,Planes,Boats,Cars and Buses bringin' disposable income to our area. And all conveniently located off 2 seperate state highways (rte 9 & rte 2) just minutes away. SEE IT YET ????
Gene Bartholomew March 24, 2011 at 10:47 PM
All I see is a lot of BS. It does not matter what it could be, IT IS ILLEGAL OR DAILY WOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM GETTING IT THROUGH YEARS AGO. Come down off the cloud. Read this article(below), be informed, be intelligent, make well rounded decisions based on fact. There is nothing in writing to prove they would do any of that anyway, I would still like Eileen to post all the examples of this type of conveyance that happen all the time, and I want to see this conveyance in writing, in public, lets see just what she was going to give Rocco & co with no strings attached, you see, the problem for me is once I see BS, I have to wonder what else is BS, it should be very easy for Eileen to show these documents, and she should be willing and want to. http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2011/03/wouldbe-developers-claims-are.html read that and ask about the lies
Gene Bartholomew March 24, 2011 at 10:50 PM
remember Faustus' Temptation?
Ron Snow March 24, 2011 at 11:36 PM
OH,GENE Cloud ? Really ? Have you read my past comments ? I DO NOT want too see this swap go thru. BUT, I would like to see the Riverhouse partners spend money in this region. My comments last night were meant to get people thinking about the possibilities on the East Haddam side of the river. Eagle Landing is a great resource that should be used and protected for all. After all it provides a nice vantage point for basking in the scenic beauty, that is East Haddam . Hell, we have most of the scenic attractions in the area , Opera House,Swingbridge,Airport,Gillettes Castle,1/2 of the ferry, The Moodus Noises. I LOVE my town,I hope the Haddam residents Love theirs enough to fight for it. OH BY THE WAY I buy 2 powerball tickets a week,Hoping to win. I know It'll never happen,BUT at least I can dream. P.S never heard of faustus . Wasn't he Matt Dillons' deputy ?? lol :)
Gene Bartholomew March 25, 2011 at 09:08 PM
No, its about making a deal with Lucipher, good vs evil,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Faustus_(play) I hear your sarcasm and all of that was not pointed at you, but you see how you easily fall for "temptation", how wonderful it would be, yes, if we could just develop the entire planet leaving no stone un turned. Problem is this "conveyance" is illegal as it stands, and still they dance around, claiming they understand the original owners feelings and the deed, and oopps they're sorry they "mis-spoke", ...............but they still want what they want. Which proves they really don't care about the consequences of their actions, about other State Parks or Conserved Lands, now or in the future, so they are selfish and evil. Plain and simple.


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