George A. Sprecace M.D., J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London, P.C.
www.asthma-drsprecace.com


2005 ANNUAL MEETING [of the New London Development Corporation]
by DAVID M. GOEBEL, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

2004 was a year of positive results for the Corporation.  In our two pronged approach of economic development and community development, we have advanced the ball down the field in both areas despite some delay due to the litigation which has surrounded elements of the project.  Our Community Development Initiative, or CDI, is limited to those areas where, in partnership with other City wide organizations, we are able to enhance the opportunity for a larger number of the residents of New London to contribute to and be a part of the economic improvements which are occurring.  I would like to briefly discuss what we have done in these two areas.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The first thing I would like to say is that none of the economic development work that we have done since this project commenced would have been possible without the support, financial and otherwise of the State of Connecticut.  They have guided us, encouraged us, and most importantly, funded us in our work to improve New London.  Their commitment is immense and continuing.

In 2004 we transferred over $36 million of completed work to the City of New London.  This included portions of Howard Street, the roundabout at the intersection of Pequot Avenue, Willets Avenue, Shaw Street and Howard Street, and all the new roads and sidewalks you see in the Fort Trumbull peninsula as well several miles of infrastructure which you can not see below the surface of the ground.  That work had been largely completed in 2003 with a few items held over to 2004.  It consisted of more than 35 miles of conduit installed to contain the new electric and telephone lines, approximately 1.5 miles of drainage pipe, one mile of new water main, 3 miles of rigid steel conduit for street lights, over 11 miles of sidewalks, 125 street lights, 51 manholes, 11,000 tons of asphalt, and about 270 trees.  Additionally, the project will use about one quarter million tons of new fill to both replace contaminated soil and to raise the land out of the flood plain.  This is equivalent to 250 football fields of dirt spread one foot high.  There are a total of 5 gross particle separators installed.  These devices remove over 80% of the suspended solids in storm water run off, resulting in a dramatic decrease in the amount of pollution entering the harbor as a result of rainfall and snow melt.  This over $36 million of work and materials given to the City represents a significant improvement in the aging infrastructure of our community.  I raise this because some have bemoaned the loss of $1 million in taxable receipts thus far during this project.  I believe that the more than $36  million in infrastructure improvements is a pretty good return on the $1 million in tax money foregone due to the project.

The Fort Trumbull peninsula is ready for development.  We have a revised agreement with our developer, Corcoran Jennison, which has that development now underway.  CJ is in negotiations with the General Services Administration to secure a leasing contract that will move the Coast Guard Research and Development Center and International Ice Patrol from Avery Point in Groton to former Navy Building #2 on the peninsula.  There are a series of milestones CJ and NLDC have agreed to meet and they are coming up quickly.  By May 15, 2005 NLDC must submit the letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to obtain the certification that the land has been removed from the flood plain.   On that same date, CJ and NLDC must sign the document that leases Building #2 and the land under it to CJ, who in turn will lease it to GSA for the Coast Guard.  Both of these are currently on track.  And it is important to remember that the taxing clock starts when CJ and NLDC sign their leasing agreement.  These items are followed quickly by a requirement for the NLDC to have the remaining sections of the Riverwalk under contract by June 15, 2005 and CJ must take their plans for the housing and revised hotel to Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration by July 15, 2005.  So, as they say ‘spring is in the air’, I say here, ‘progress is in the air’.  Development progress on the Fort Trumbull peninsula is underway.

We should not lose sight of the delays caused by the lawsuits that have surrounded this project.  There were lawsuits filed by the Fort Trumbull Conservancy against the plans for the new roads and the Riverwalk in October 2001 that were not resolved until October 2003 when the CT Supreme Court ruled in favor the City and NLDC.  That is a 2-year loss of time.  Likewise, law suits filed by the Fort Trumbull Conservancy against the plans for Building #2 and the initial hotel in December 2001 which were not resolved until September 2003 when the CT Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of an Appellate Court decision.  These lawsuits were initiated with the specific purpose of delaying the project, and thereby delaying the flow of tax dollars to this distressed community.  During the delay caused by these lawsuits the economic conditions within the nation and the community changed, which in turn affected the sequence of the original project.  Both CJ and the NLDC recognized this reality and undertook mediation to reach a revised agreement so that development could start.  This revised agreement was reached in September 2004 and reduced to contract language by November 2004.  It is the work and the time lines for that work specified within this revised agreement that we are marching to as discussed above.  And, we are on track.  But it is worth pondering where we would be today if these needless lawsuits had not been filed.

Please note that I have said nothing about the current lawsuit being considered by the US Supreme Court.  It is inappropriate to comment on that action in more than a general sense until it is decided by the Court

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE

The Community Development Initiative (CDI) is affiliated with the New London Development Corporation to the extent that those functions it performs need to be tied to improving the economic climate within our community.  It does this by promoting and improving the economic health and quality of life of New London’s most vulnerable children and families.  There is one staff member coordinating CDI under funding provided largely by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (UPS).

This past year CDI has focused primarily on children and families by:

supporting early care and education through the New London Children First/School Readiness Council and partnering with the United Way of SE CT;
co-hosting an economic development summit with Mr. Art Rolnick, Senior Vice President  of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis;
initiating the Commission on Children’s Parent Leadership Training Institute – PLTI New London – a 20-week empowerment course for parents;
sponsorship of bi-lingual caravan and educational forums hosted by C.U.R.E.
Resident and parent engagement is a proven and well-documented strategy for positively impacting the life circumstances of children and families.  Resident and parent engagement in civic life, neighborhoods and schools yields economic development not only for the individuals, but even greater yields for the community as a whole as residents gain self-sufficiency and contribute in a more meaningful way to the tax base of our community.  CDI continues at the grassroots level to promote long-term economic development by strengthening families and neighborhoods in New London.
HOUSENEW LONDON

HouseNew London is a stand-alone program that is technically not a part of CDI.  Still it has goals that align closely with CDI in that it endeavors to enable citywide individuals to improve their personal situation through home ownership.

This program has two parts to it, property acquisition and rehabilitation and homebuyer education.  The goal is to change selected neighborhoods from a predominantly absentee landlord neighborhood to a neighborhood of resident homeowners.  Using funds provided by Lawrence and Memorial Hospital and the Palmer Fund we have purchased 17 properties to date and have 4 more that are in various stages of the acquisition process.  Of those seventeen purchased, six have been either newly constructed or completely renovated.  Four of those completed properties have been sold to first time homebuyers.  Much of this work has been done on Belden Street and West Coit Street, and I encourage you to take a drive down there and see the changes that are taking place.

Three of our pending acquisitions are located at the entrance to Belden Street, on the corner of Belden Street and Belden Court.  There an existing two-family house will be renovated, and two new two-family homes will be constructed.  This is an exciting project for which we have received acquisition support from the City’s Community Development Block Grant   allocation.  Each of our three non-profit developer partners plans to develop one of the lots.

The Homebuyer’s Club offers a course that prepares first-time homebuyers for the process of purchasing and maintaining a home.  This year, an additional course was implemented which offers landlord training to those who intend to purchase homes with rental units.  The homebuyer education program has graduated 60 individuals so far and 14 of them have become homeowners.  There is no requirement that individuals that complete the course under our direction must purchase a home that the other half of the program develops.  However, to purchase one of our homes you must have completed the course.  As individuals complete the course we are working to get them pre-approved for a mortgage so that they are fully mortgage ready when the houses are ready.  It is very true that home ownership fuels the financial security of the next generation more than any other single action.

HouseNew London will soon be the recipient of $330,000 in federal HOME – American Dream Downpayment Initiative funds.  These funds will be available as down payment assistance grants to first-time homebuyers graduating from our Homebuyer’s Club training or other certified training courses.  Each grant will be for $10,000, or 6% of the home’s purchase price, whichever is greater.

So, there are several ways in which the Corporation has improved the economic climate within New London and the region.  The primary way is through traditional economic development, working to bring in new businesses and encouraging growth in others.  However we also have been involved in enhancing the opportunity for residents to actually have the ability to purchase goods from these businesses and for those same people to be able to take part in the American dream, and own their own home.  In all these regards, we have had a good year.  We firmly believe that the best is yet to come.


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