Tabor Drive Fix Nixed; Public Works Plan Stays

Fred Russo, founder of a citizens group against placing Public Works on town-owned Tabor property, speaks to the Board of Selectmen March 20.
Fred Russo, founder of a citizens group against placing Public Works on town-owned Tabor property, speaks to the Board of Selectmen March 20.

A view into exorbitant costs to fix ever-flooding Tabor Drive has led to a change of lanes for Public Works access, should a new Public Works facility go up on 10 acres of town-owned Tabor land.  But First Selectman Anthony “Unk” DaRos has said the new finding doesn’t change the notion that the Tabor site is still best for the town.

The town’s decision to call off raising Tabor Drive in order to support the new facility occurred not too long after a March 6 BOS meeting. At that meeting, Third Selectman Jamie Cosgrove (R) said it would cost plenty to raise Tabor Road to support Public Works. At the time, Second Selectman Andrew Campbell (D) disputed Cosgrove’s logic.

“I don’t see the multimillion dollars’ worth of infrastructure improvements that are necessary,” said Campbell on March 6. “I don't know of all these improvements that you claim to be necessary to the proposal of building Public Works down at Tabor, because I haven't seen all of these add-ons delineated in any way. The only reason I can think of (for) these numbers being thrown (out) as millions of dollars without actual detail is to defeat the project down there, by making it seem to be too costly.”

But on March 13, Campbell told the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) that engineers recommended  the town “abandon” a Tabor Drive fix, for which a study alone would cost between $500,000 to $700,000. Campbell added the DEEP also couldn’t support changes to the road, due to the need to maintain a floodgate underneath.

Without Tabor Drive as a main access to the proposed Public Works facility, other roads will have to become predominant paths for trucks and other support traffic. A planned Pine Orchard Road entrance would get heavier use and Tabor Drive-area residents are worried Ark Road will become a main thoroughfare as well.

The BOS voted 2-1 in November, 2012, to approve the Public Works Building Committee’s recommendation to build Public Works on Tabor land. Since then, DaRos has said the administration would address concerns about the property, which is why the recommendation has yet to be forwarded to the Board of Finance (BOF) or RTM for further action.

Given the recent news that Tabor Drive won’t be raised, at the March 20 BOS meeting, Cosgrove once again asked DaRos and Campbell whether plans to build a new Public Works on Tabor land would be moving forward.  Fred Russo, citizen founder of a grassroots group to “Stop Public Works at Tabor,” followed up with the same sentiment.

“What has happened in three months is that our group grew from one to 600 (who) disagree with you,” said Russo, speaking to DaRos. “In three months, neither  you nor Mr. Campbell has ever addressed our concerns. What about the people who have signs on the lawns, who write letters to the newspaper? You’re talking about putting trucks in the garage. We’re talking about putting people in their homes.”  

Russo said the Tabor Master Plan presented by DaRos in December should instead be called the Tabor Disaster Plan.

“It’s really the Tabor Disaster plan because it affects a lot of people,” said Russo.

Russo pointed to Campbell’s recent contradiction with regard to Tabor Drive, and said the entire Public Works at Tabor issue has yielded nothing but “…contradiction after contradiction, smoke and mirrors…but no movement. If you believe you’re right, then move the process forward. Let’s see where it goes.”

Russo also said that, although the administration keeps saying concerns are being addressed, none of the people he’s representing have been contacted.

“The fact that you ignore 600 people that don’t want it, who put signs on their lawn, who’ve been very respectful… you’ve got to reciprocate. You’ve got to come back, you’ve got to answer what our concerns are,” said Russo, suggesting, “…come to a meeting. Tell us the compelling reason why that building needs to be at Tabor, and we would listen. What we’ve had to do is come to you.”

DaRos thanked Russo for his input, noting, “…I had to find a compelling reason to put it in middle of 200 acres. I do have a town to represent, and I do appreciate what those folks are doing, and I will do my best to listen to every one of them.”  


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