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UPDATED: Haddam Land Swap Back in Play

Sen. Daily is Pushing For a Deal to Give the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station State Land Near the Connecticut River.

The Hartford Courant is reporting that Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, has revived a controversial land swap in which the owners of the Riverhouse banquet facility would get 17 acres of state land near the Connecticut River in exchange for 87 acres of forest land they own in Higganum.

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission said it will oppose the swap, awaiting more details on the transfer. A tenative hearing in Hartford is scheduled for March 14.

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Ron Snow March 04, 2011 at 12:58 AM
Hey, I'm all for economic development...BUT not at the expense of the passive recreation benefits that Eagle landing provides. I realize the value of 87 acres compared to 17 acres, but there's already an abbundance of forest in this area i.e Cockaponsett state forest,Macimoodus state park,Hurd park, I also realize that yes, there is Haddam meadows, but what scenery does that really offer? When you see advertisements and such touting the beauty of the Ct.river valley they invariably show the vistas including,the Goodspeed Opera House,and the East Haddam swingbridge. wouldn't it be nice to keep the land in state hands so we can all enjoy IT instead of yet more forestland?
LoveThatDirtyWater March 04, 2011 at 05:09 PM
The Harford Courant article states that Mr. Miller said he supports this deal. I find this odd. Mr. Miller has been a staunch ally to preserving open land. That he approves such a deal to trade preserved Connecticut River front property for inland forest acreage doesn't make sense. It makes me question his motives. I would think he would champion preserving both parcels. I also question why Ms. Daily continues to bring this issue to the senate. Clearly, the riverfront property value is much higher and more desirable than the larger parcel of inland acreage. What are the real potential economic impacts of this trade? Again, I'm skeptical about Ms. Daily's motives in this deal. The greatest economic benefit in this deal goes to the developer. The town can collect taxes on the river front property. A few jobs in hospitality will be created. But what benefit is there for those of us who live in the Connecticut River Valley and would like to see at least some sections of the river front left as open space. BTW - I have some undeveloped acres of forest land I'd love to swap for a small parcel of river front. How did Mr. Rocco get Ms. Daily's support and what do I have to do to get Ms. Daily to approve a swap for me? I'll be happy to build and operate an Inn on the river front.
Keep the river front for all of us March 04, 2011 at 07:37 PM
I agree.....let us all enjoy the riverfront and not pass it on for "commercial gain" of a few.
Freedom of Speech March 04, 2011 at 11:05 PM
"Something is rotten in Denmark" If indeed the State decides they want to swap or sell this land for private development, instead of preserving it as open space for all to enjoy for free, shouldn't it go through a bidding process as all other State properties should? How is this process being circumvented for this situation? What if someone comes to the table with a better offer? As a taxpayer during this economic climate, I would expect the State would use their head to get the best deal. And the "forest" being swapped is nowhere near the value of this riverfront parcel. I hope all of Connecticut is paying attention to this before the rug gets pulled out from underneath them... Our representatives should be ashamed of themselves.
Shine Light March 05, 2011 at 01:51 AM
From Courant, Aug. 2005 "Out-of-town developers envision a large, upscale banquet hall on several Tylerville acres overlooking the Connecticut River. Redding-based Home Sweet Homes LLC on June 17 purchased 3 acres off Bridge Street for $525,000, Town Clerk Ann Huffstetler said Monday." Let's do the math: What are these 17 acres really worth?
Keep the river front for all of us March 05, 2011 at 01:12 PM
If this goes through, what will it mean for future donations of open land to the town or state? Will people be reluctant to donate land in the future in fear that it will NOT be used as open space as they intended.....but SOLD to a private concern for THEIR economical gain ?
sharon botelle March 07, 2011 at 06:19 AM
It is really important to contact the new DEEP Commissioner, Ms. Daily, Mr. Miller and the Governor to let them know your opposition. Trading open space land, paid for with our tax dollars to private developers for their own gain is wrong. The developers have invested $428,000 for 87 acres in Higganum - we taxpayers paid $1,350,000 for those 17 acres. How can this be fair. This sets a precedent for all open space - making all open space vulnerable to developers. What is to prevent the developers from selling the 17 acres once they acquire it and make a nice profit for themselves!
Freedom of Speech March 07, 2011 at 05:59 PM
The town now has the 17.7-acre parcel of State owned land (Map 49- Lot 22-2) appraised at $171,780. The Assessor's card shows 2-acres at 122,500 and 15.4-acres valued at 49,280. The market value in 2009 Grandlist was $1,555,000. This represents a reduction of $1,178,220 in market value since the State purchased it in 2003 for $1,350,000. The Riverhouse land (all four lots) totaling 87.7-acres are appraised at a market value of $324,143. The market value in the 2009 Grandlist was $501,280.
Keep the river front for all of us March 07, 2011 at 06:28 PM
The whole situation "stinks" of favoritism...............and its not YOU and Me.
Susan Beckman March 07, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Read the draft minutes of the CT River Gateway Commission's special meeting Feb 28, 2011 on this issue http://www.ctrivergateway.org/Minutes/GWSpMtgMinutes022811.pdf. From the minutes: "Turner asked Senator Daily why she seemed reluctant to pull the bill after the public hearing is held. Daily said that a “hammer” needs to be held over the head of the Haddam land use commissions to insure that the process doesn’t slow to a point detrimental to the Riverhouse partners." Question: Why should the state expedite this deal and pressure the Haddam land use commissions for the benefit of this developer? Economic Development is vitally important, however, our state and local governments must consider the long-term impact of development along the Connecticut River. The 17 acre parcel in question was purchased by state for conservation. It may be possible to balance conservation with development. But we should never circumvent the planning process. From the minutes: "Staff reminded the Commission members that they had sent a letter to Senator Daily, dated December 14, 2010 [attached], that specifically requested that the conveyance of the property be postponed until next legislative session (2012) so that the ongoing collaboration and town planning efforts can be concluded or much further along than they are at this time." Question: Why is Senator Daily ignoring the Ct River Gateway Commision request to postpone the conveyance of the property?
LoveThatDirtyWater March 07, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Protection of the public’s access to the shore and the seas dates back to the Justinian Code of the 6th century. The code states, among other things: "All rivers and ports are public" and "By the law of nature these things are common to mankind---the air, running water, the sea, and consequently the shores of the sea." The genesis of the Code with respect to water rights dealt mainly with the public need to support cattle, farming, and fishing. Given that, efforts to preserve the public’s access to these shore points still remain today. The Connecticut River Gateway Commission should keep in mind the best interest of the River Gateway as a whole when judging the appropriateness of this land swap. The commission should also be applauded for not succumbing to a rushed bill that would likely only serve the interest of a few.
sxactive March 08, 2011 at 01:42 AM
I'm all for economic development and feel that Connecticut should be more business friendly however, with that being said, it's really strange that there would be such a rush to make a decision. Clearly, there is absolutely no comparision between the two parcels of land. Riverfront is special and very expensive. The swap from an economic standpoint is not equitable and quite frankly ridiculous to even consider. The inland parcel of land would be easy to out and out purchase, if the State so chose. On the otherhand, Riverfront property would be almost untouchable for a developer without deep pockets. I think the people in this area need to ask many questions to insure that their Representatives do what is best for the community. Lets see: 1.5 million property exchanged for 1/2 million property, hmmmm, I think we can all see why this State is in such financial straits.
sxactive March 08, 2011 at 01:55 AM
It makes sense if you know Phil Miller! He's just started and he's already in a controversy. Hang on, this district is in for a ride. At least Haddam/East Haddam had the smarts not to vote for him! Maybe it's his pay back to the residents, ha! Just joking but....it is odd that he's always been such a rabid land gobbler for conservation in Essex. My guess is that he just wants to be in agreement with his Democratic senator, Eileen Daily.
LoveThatDirtyWater March 08, 2011 at 02:10 AM
Here is a the CGA page covering Bill 5520 from 2010 (see the "Click for Public Hearing Testimony" at the bottom for some good reading) : http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=5520&which_year=2010 Here is the text of the Bill (don't know how recent): http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/TOB/H/2010HB-05520-R00-HB.htm If anyone can find the 2011 bill, please post. What strikes me is how relatively "clean" all of the other conveyances appear when compared to section 19 (the Haddam swap). Now I see why it is a "placeholder". It really is a mishmash with no real accounting. Every other conveyance requiring a transfer of funds requires some sort of appraisal (by two parties). This swap seems like it is shoehorned and someone just wants to make it happen. I am no lawyer, but I certainly understood every other conveyance in the bill. Section 19 leaves way too many questions. This agreement is not mature enough to be put into law/bill.
Lynn Herlihy March 08, 2011 at 01:44 PM
I love it when legislators try to tell us about economic development. About 10 years ago, I supported Senator Eileen Daily. Yes, I volunteered and voted for a Democrat. At that time, Senator Dailey was a friend to business. I do now, and always will believe that no one party has all the answers. I oppose this land swap for business reasons. Economic development is always the reason given for the state making such a economically, and environmentally stupid move. She must explain to me, how a banquet hall will do anything for economic development in Haddam or East Haddam. People go to a Banquet Hall for a wedding or event. They arrive, attend the event and leave. They do not go to a restaurant to eat or attend a play or in any other way support the local economy. Someone will have to pay for the increased traffic on a very fragile bridge and small local roads. I did not make up these reasons for this being a bad business move. These reasons have been researched by trained planners. They are used by towns who have sought to protect their towns from greedy and uncaring developers, who don't care at all about economic development for a town. Phil, this is not the time to support your mentor. She is terribly wrong and I question her motive for continuing to work this deal.
alison nichols March 08, 2011 at 05:49 PM
How can you not question her motives? Eileen Daily is like a dog with a bone. This is the fourth time that she has revived The Land Swap Deal. Why? Questions need to be asked about Senator Daily's relationship with the developers. It looks bad. The development company definitely has the most to gain from the Swap.
sxactive March 08, 2011 at 05:50 PM
I've always liked Eileen Daily even though she hasn't helped small businesses, I felt that she would not support legislation that would really hurt businesses. I could understand if this would help the economic development for this area but like ASPII has said, it will not. This is not a fair swap. Even everyone was in agreement that this would be a good use, the developer needs to add a million dollars in addition to the land. This State, with our budget deficit would be irresponsible to allow such a swap. They won't even remove a $250.00 business tax from small businesses in this crisis time, yet they are willing to give away 1million dollars to a developer? What goes here?
jane sibley March 08, 2011 at 08:46 PM
It seems as if folks are against the land swap, and for a multitude of excellent reasons. Yes, I too would like to see what arrangements (if any) there are between Ms. Daily and the Riverhouse. What is in it for her? She seems so eager to get this swap done. Gotta be something in it for her! If this riverfront property gets swapped, that essentially means "in perpetuity" IMHO. We have a beautiful river, and this land should be preserved as it is. If Riverhouse needs more land, why don't they develop the piece that they have, and run a shuttle to and from it?
Gene Bartholomew March 13, 2011 at 04:49 PM
That is why Eileen kept it a secret, the big question is...............the million dollar question............whats up with Daily??? I mean she sure seems to be obsessed with this, like she owes someone, like she has to do this, I am not suggesting anything other than what logic is telling me, ... when you start off secretly you plant the seeds of rumor, which is why this needs to be public but I want the resident to understand very clearly, this is not a Haddam only issue, this is a Statewide issue because this is State Conservation Land Daily has been very sneeky in keeping it a Haddam issue, sorry, but it is not Haddam town land. It is ours, IT IS ALL OF OURS. Not Daily's, not Roccos, OURS. Remember the money used to buy the land was Conservation money, with legal ground as to how it is spent AND what happend to land FOREVER.
Gene Bartholomew March 13, 2011 at 04:52 PM
go to Connecticut State Park Protectors on facebook and help me fight this, there is a ton of information there, and remember, this is not just about Eagle Landing, if this goes through NO State Park would be safe because no other State Park has ever been "quit claimed" or swapped. That would set a legal precedent and no other developer or corporation could be denied the same due process or they would sue and have legal ground.
Keep the river front for all of us March 13, 2011 at 04:55 PM
I think we should look into who is involved in Home Sweet Homes LLC.......might be surprised who is ????????????????

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