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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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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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