Chat Transcript: City Councilor Michael Buscetto

 Posted - 9/3/2008 2:31:49 PM
Mike, I feel that you are doing a great job but you did not answer the question. That is ok if you do not feel comfortable answering in this forum. I understand. Thank you again for all your hard work.
Jimmy H.
New London
- 9/3/2008 6:09:37 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 2:13:06 PM
The only problem with Downtown New London is everything closes so early.
- 9/3/2008 6:13:55 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 2:06:08 PM
Mike thanks but you ducked the question. I am surprised!
Timothy Johnson
New London
- 9/3/2008 6:29:30 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 2:01:39 PM
Does it concern you that the City Manager did not get it right about Haynes the first time around? This was critical information.
Jimmy H.

I believe I answered that earlier.

- 9/3/2008 2:12:15 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:59:22 PM
Keep up the good work, Mike. New London needs strong leadership in addition to a compelling and shared vision for its future. Keep up the good fight to ensure that we move forward and realize our potential as a city.
Barry Runyan
New London, CT

Thank You! You are a great example of what volunteerism means to a community. The time and energy that you are putting into this city has and will make a difference.

- 9/3/2008 2:11:26 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:53:22 PM
Mike Great Idea doing this question and answer forum. I believe we need to organize and market New London for a positive future. The food stroll brings alot of people to the sidewalks downtown. Foot traffic is what retail needs to survive. Maybe Main Street could organize the downtown merchants to have downtown New London days it could be sidewalk sales or some type of special promotions and special hours to attract the much needed foot traffic. We also need to market all our events to people outside our immediate area.
Bob Hinners
Downtown Merchant

I agree. Consolidated marketing efforts will bring more people and will save merchants money that is used for advertising. I believe you will see Main Street and others working together to reach other markets.

- 9/3/2008 2:09:37 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:50:50 PM
Michael, I hear you on the radio all the time!! What's the latest with the Charter Revision Commission? When is there going to be a public hearing on this extraordinarily important matter? We need to be informed!
New London, CT

Monday at 6 p.m. at City Hall is the public hearing. It will be advertised.

- 9/3/2008 2:07:20 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:50:04 PM
R U going to answer all the questions submitted B4 2pm?

I hope to..
- 9/3/2008 2:08:35 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:49:02 PM
Hey Mike, how about a Rudy Guliani style clean-up in New London. For decades now, since before you and I went to grade school together,New London has been held hostage by the thug about enabling the police force so that it can perhaps knock a few heads in, so to speak?
ghost from back in the day

I am in favor of eliminating criminal behavior in a swift way. I believe the majority of the population should not be victimized by a small group of people who choose to continuously disregard the law.

- 9/3/2008 2:05:27 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:42:14 PM
Mike I saw on the TV show that if the budget referendum fails that the cut will be split between the city side and the Board of Ed. Would the council really do that and cut police and fire when those departments are contributing so much to the city and the Board of Ed has remained stagnent in the job of educating our youth. That is paramount to rewarding those that fail.
Timothy Johnson
New London

Education is very important and very expensive. I am a strong supporter of the budget and hopefully enough people vote Yes and we can continue to invest in our community and see and feel the quality of life improvements that the taxpayers deserve.

- 9/3/2008 2:02:41 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:34:56 PM
Mike, What is the plans for Ocean Beach if any? How about more vendors and such in that area to bring in money for the city?
Rick W
Groton, CT

Ocean Beach is a gem and we will continue to support it.  I believe the beach over the next few years will continue to improve and generate more revenue for our city.

- 9/3/2008 2:00:29 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:33:58 PM
Mike, I read in the paper how the City Manager did not get all the facts about Haynes when doing the check on them. How does this make teh Councilors feel knowing that the City Manager either cannot get the facts or just did not provide all the facts to the councilors?
Jimmy H.

The City Manager has done more research and is working with the Law Director to make sure we are all set and that the issues I raised in regards to Haynes will be watched and taken seriously.

- 9/3/2008 1:57:43 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:25:41 PM
Mike, What specifically is being done by the City Council to improve New London (i.e., budgeting for security, cleanup, etc.)?
Jeff McDowell
New London, CT

The city has added many new police officers and the Public Works department has been funded with new equipment to ensure our streets and parks are clean and safe. We are also enforcing ordinances on blighted and vacant properties to make sure our neighborhoods are well kept. We are also in the process of streamlining the process for developers. This is just the start, the best is yet to come !  

- 9/3/2008 1:55:19 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:21:40 PM
Mike, I visit downtown NL about 6 times a year. I enjoy the mom & pop food establishments. One of the ways I think you could get more people to visit is to hold more events in the summer. Such as smaller fire work displays, Boat shows, fishing events, taste of N.L. ect. Capitalize on the water frontage, I truly believe if you have an event people will come. Good luck.. I like the open forum you offer.
Waterford, ct
Main Street and Barbara Neff have agreed to work together and continue to host more events in this great city. Stay tuned!
- 9/3/2008 1:50:06 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:20:42 PM
Mike, do you consider the existance of abudant low income housing projects to be a detriment to New London? Do you suppose the project demographic needs to be subdued or eliminated in order to bring a more middle class environment to our town and schools? And finally, do you recognize our schools will be hard pressed to improve unless the home/family life of the students attending improves?
New London
I believe it does have a negative impact on people's image of New London. I do believe the Housing Authority that runs most of the low income housing is underfunded by the Federal Government and therefore can not adequately manage the properties. Parental involvement with their children, especially at an early age, is critical to ensure their children will have a chance for success in school as well as landing a job in the future.
- 9/3/2008 1:46:02 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 1:06:07 PM
What do you think of a program that would give shoppers downtown a parking voucher where they could get a couple bucks off the cost of parking in the garage? If you think that's a good idea, will you try to get it done?

It's a great idea and it is done in places like Providence. If you park and then go eat at a restaurant or shop at a store, they will validate your ticket and you don't have to pay anything. I'll send the recommendation to the City Manager so he can consider it as part of his proposal.

- 9/3/2008 1:43:36 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 12:52:15 PM
Mike do beleave that you John and Adam be the new council can move this city forward and put Curtain,Kevin and Pero in there place

We all have to work together to move the city in the right direction.

- 9/3/2008 1:01:55 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 12:49:02 PM
Mike, What is being done to ensure businesses are coming into New London? How do you answer the questions of a potential investor who asks "Why New London"?
New London, CT
I believe I answered this question earlier.
- 9/3/2008 12:58:41 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 12:37:40 PM
Good morning Mike. Where can I get all the information possible on available programs for commerical developers who have interest in downtown properties?
Evan Carpenter
Waterford CT

Ned Hammond is our Economic Development Coordinator. He can be reached at 437-6309. If you don't get a timely response, please let me know.

- 9/3/2008 12:57:37 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 12:34:23 PM
What is your take on the republican nominee for v.p.? Pretty hot, huh?

Good looks never hurt anybody!
- 9/3/2008 12:55:06 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 12:33:17 PM
Mike, where do you stand on the idea of inviting an urban revitalization consultant such as the well-respected and much-accomplished Professor Alan Plattus of Yale University and the Urban Design Workshop. I have spoken with him and he would be interested in working with New London as a project. The Urban Design Workshop has helped revitalize several Connecticut downtown's into thriving and destination City Centers.
John Fleming
New London, CT

This guy sounds intelligent, I'd love to have him down! Let's get together and make it happen!

- 9/3/2008 12:54:05 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 12:28:54 PM
Mike, I welcome this sort of forum for all City Councilors to participate in. I hope we see more of our elected leaders participating in this manner. I know from personal experience that there are in fact 'prospector' building owners downtown. One building my Father and I investigated involved a property on lower Bank that was listed at nearly $800,000, the owner had purchased the property just two years earlier for less than $200,000. He had not spent a single dime of improvements into the property. When I approached the agent about a more reasonable price - say $300,000 I was told there was not interest from the owner - despite that number representing a considerable profit. My thought is that a number of owners bought low into New London as a way of padding the net equity of their property portfolio.
John Fleming
New London, CT
Buying low and hoping to sell high is a right of the property owner. We as a community need to make sure that we enforce all codes and ordinances that pertain to vacant and blighted properties and work with the property owners to attract tenants.
- 9/3/2008 12:53:00 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 12:27:36 PM
Michael: I think it is great that you are using this forum to communicate to people and listen to their comments and suggestions. There are many things that need to be done to turn things around in New London, and all of them cost money. Safety and security, however, is a critical element in any rebuilding effort and the prosecutors and court system must protect the majority of law-abiding citizens by making sure any and all criminals go to jail...not suspended sentences, etc.
Peter Levine
New Rochelle, NY

Thank you, Peter! I hope all is well and Thank You for your interest in New London.

- 9/3/2008 12:49:46 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 12:16:00 PM
Hello Mike, Thanks for answering my prior query. Are you planning to introduce a motion at the City Council to order the City Manager to enforce the existing contract on the Capitol Theater, which clearly gives the City the right to take back that property? I am afraid that by foolishly failing to do so before now the City may find they have lost their rights under that contract.
Michael Casteel
New London, CT
We have asked the City Manager and Law Director to give us an update on where we are with this developer in relation to our agreement. This was agreed to before my time on council and I
am as disappointed as you are. It's time to change developers. Does your offer still stand at $2? Have a good day!
- 9/3/2008 12:37:41 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 12:08:26 PM
Does our city's home-rule authority allow for the waiver of certain state public-safety and building codes to allow landlords to more effectively market residential spaces in the central business district. It seems to me, Mike, that the vision of an attractive downtown retail environment can become reality if, firstly, our downtown becomes a densely populated area of those eager to live there because they can drastically reduce their dependence on automobiles. Our city has the significant distinction of being small enough that a pedestrian lifestyle is possible within its limits. I walk or bike for most of my needs from an apartment on Colman Street, which proves both healthful and financially rewarding.
Bud Bray
New London, CT

I believe public safety and building codes should not be compromised in order to spur development. It is important that buildings be updated, yet maintain their architectural integrity.
I agree with you that a pedestrian lifestyle is one of the many positives New London has to offer.

- 9/3/2008 12:31:06 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 11:04:56 AM
Many people admire your alpha male, get things done way of leadership. But there are also many people that think you do not have the intelligence to guide New London into the future. How would you respond to this criticism?
New London, CT
I am open to hearing from and speaking with anyone with an intelligent idea. I believe new voices need to be heard and taken seriously and believe I have shown the ability to work with people to make good decisions on behalf of the taxpayers of New London.
- 9/3/2008 12:27:42 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 9:23:36 AM
The realtor yesterday commented that a good Italian bakery would work well downtown. I would also suggest a good German bakery. Both make great bake goods and are different. I have also commented on getting more foreign resteraunts downtown. In partiular, German, Greek and other eastern Medeteranian would be great. They would blend well with the shops specializing in foreign merchadise. Together these would help make NL a "destination" for shoppers and vacationers and fit well with the cruise ship guests.
david irons

I believe with an increased population in the downtown, many businesses like the ones you are talking about can and will prosper.

- 9/3/2008 12:15:41 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 9:14:12 AM
Mike, What is being done to attract new business into New London? What marketing campaigns are in place or being planned to advertise the assets and possibilities that this city has? Can you answer the question of perspective investors "Why New London"?
New London, CT
New London needs to invest in itself before others are asked to invest here. Public safety, streets and parks that are clean and safe will help expedite development. I believe through political stability and improved communication with outside investors as well as the current stakeholders, New London will be ready to showcase its location, architecture and culture that already make it a special place.
- 9/3/2008 12:13:09 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 8:53:19 AM
I was hoping that you would ease my fears. I have heard that the council is in favor of creating surface parking on the parcel sided by Howard Street, Bank Street and Shaw Street. Surface parking lots are ugly, suburban, and unfriendly to pedestrians walking along Bank Street. With our very limited downtown area, the street should be faced(minimal set backs) with multi-use buildings containing underground, structured or hidden surface parking in my opinion. Will you support a livable, walkable, urban environment and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution by making the city more bike and pedestrian friendly?
new london, ct
I am in favor of responsible development and I believe these issues will be voted on and reviewed by the City Council and Planning & Zoning Commission. Prior to voting, citizens will have many opportunities to express their concerns or make suggestions through public hearings.
- 9/3/2008 12:08:07 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 8:38:50 AM
Can you bring your friends to the Hygienic Movie TONIGHT?

I will not be able to attend; I have prior commitments.

- 9/3/2008 12:04:48 PM
Posted - 9/3/2008 2:48:35 AM
Whenever I walk by the Capital Theater I am disgusted. What will you do about its future?
We need to find another developer to get the job done!
- 9/3/2008 12:03:25 PM
Posted - 9/2/2008 8:08:01 PM
Would you be willing to move downtown to demonstrate leadership and committment to revitalizing it as a place to live?
I have and will continue to show support not only to downtown but throughout the entire city. New London has many different neighborhoods with different concerns and I believe the location of my home will not affect my ability to continue to be a strong leader.
- 9/3/2008 12:01:43 PM
Posted - 9/2/2008 8:04:47 PM
What checks in balances do you think out to be in place within City government to ensure that the decision making processes are fair and that the community values, property rights, quality of life, public safety, etc are also balanced with economic development?
New London, CT
Department heads and supervisors need to be held accountable for their particular departments or projects. When a task is assigned, it should be performed and followed through with an evaluation of the performance. If the performance is not acceptable, action must be taken. If it is done well, the employees should be rewarded.
- 9/3/2008 11:59:36 AM
Posted - 9/2/2008 6:25:25 PM
Hello Mike. Gazing at the two questions already posted I am struck by two thoughts - 1) Re the Bulkley House - proof that if you do succeed someone will have an issue with that. Downtown Mystic is FILLED with bars and restaurants. And the Sub Cafe is being renovated Mr. O'Donnell. 2) There is LOTS of parking in downtown New London, the problem is that most people don't know where it is. I lived here for five years before I realized there was a parking garage by the Post Office. Solution - SIGNS - Big Signs! Ultimately if downtown does boom we will need to build a parking garage, but that is NOT the issue today; in my opinion. Onto MY question - I posed this question to Ms. Hopkins yesterday - "What is your reaction to my observation that the biggest impediment to development downtown is that property is over-priced?" Her answer was that property was not over-priced and that supply and demand sets the price. Just the answer I would expect from a Realtor and a perfect example of why New London is a mess. The VAST number of vacant storefronts and buildings clearly demonstrate that supply and demand are NOT driving the market here. If property was fairly priced - it would sell! The fact is that many properties are owned by speculators who bought them cheap and are seeking to make huge profits. What would you propose to do to motivate property owners to either price their buildings at a point such that they would sell or renovate the buildings into useable space? One other item - When is the City going to take back the Capitol Theater so I can buy it for $1.00? Heck, I might even put in windows - or at least paint lines on the plywood!
Michael Casteel
New London, CT

Every owner of every property is different, including their motivations. I do believe there are property owners who are waiting to sell or rent to anybody who will pay their asking price and have no real motivation to keep their property maintained properly during this time.

 I also believe there are property owners who are trying to either rent or sell and just can't make it work, yet maintain their property and actually care about their neighbors. We have asked the City Manager and all departments to enforce every ordinance we have on vacant or blighted properties. They need to be made aware that when you do not take care of your property you are decreasing the value of your neighbors and in some cases an entire street. I have asked the City Manager to look into a reverse taxation method where people who are not responsible property owners are taxed at a higher rate. This may motivate them to fix up their property.

- 9/3/2008 11:59:27 AM
Posted - 9/2/2008 5:36:01 PM
Hi Mike - I keep thinking about Fort Trumbull and what a perfect location it would be for an Over-55 community. There is enough land for a developer to design a real village - well almost 'real' - the real village was torn down. I was looking at the financial advantages of such a community - and then it struck me that in addition to taxes, the residents, many of whom would be retired, would bring their collective talents to our city. Retired people have a great sense of volunteerism. And we could link FT with the CBD with a boardwalk. I just don't see a down side to such a concept. Thoughts?
Nancy Cole
New London CT
It's a great idea and it has been discussed. It will be up to our future partners in developing Ft. Trumbull to actually propose and build that particular project.
- 9/3/2008 11:59:15 AM
Posted - 9/2/2008 4:02:07 PM
Its been said that you are a real estate developer by profession. What professional experiences in urban redevelopment/revitalization have you had that you can draw on to improve the downtown?
New London
I believe if you surround yourself with hard working and intelligent people who are willing to work together towards a clear goal, you can achieve anything. We have had many people call themselves experts or specialists and yet have shown few results.
- 9/3/2008 12:00:17 PM
Posted - 9/2/2008 4:00:02 PM
How would you define civics and how is your continued participation in politics going to improve the downtown?
Phillip Mish
New London
It is my civic responsibility to make a difference in the community that I live in through actions. It is essential that the citizens know that this city will benefit greatly by sharing their time and their talents for the benefit of the city and we as politicians must support them any way we can.
- 9/3/2008 11:59:03 AM
Posted - 9/2/2008 5:41:41 AM
For me the biggest issue is PARKING and the lack of it, as a small business owner it is a challenge for me to get to the Post Office downtown and I would love to frequent local businesses to pick up coffee stop in at Caruso Music etc. but there is a one hour limit where I park and not a whole lot more available. I do not think without better parking lot alternatives we can develop these empty downtown storefronts, one of which I live above myself further up on the hill. Is the parking issue just me or are there others perhaps on the City Council that realize this is an issue for many? Thanks in advance for your answer, Donna
New London, CT
As we continue to move people into downtown and entice people to do business here, we must make sure our parking areas are clean  and safe and we have an adequate amount of spaces to handle our growth. I believe the current situation needs to be modified and we have asked the City Manager to meet with the various groups that use the downtown daily and come back to us with a proposal.
- 9/3/2008 11:57:02 AM
Posted - 9/1/2008 7:32:28 PM
What about house blight? There is a house on Lower Blvd that the grass is over grown, the house has so much debris on the front pouch. There are rats, bugs. People on Lower Blvd keeps their home nice and this is your back yard neighbor for which you are trying to sell expensive home. It wouldn't look good when your homes are occupied and rats are running around. Just a note this has been an eyesore for many many years. Enough is enough. Get going on this one and make our street a nice place again.
New London

I spoke to the City Manager regarding this house and many others throughout our city a few months ago at a City Council meeting. The owner of this property as well as others have been put on notice that if they don't voluntarily clean it up, we will than make them clean up through the court system.

- 9/3/2008 11:56:48 AM
Posted - 9/1/2008 12:29:44 PM
Many small cities lack major retail anchors and still thrive. They draw upon their natural resources (waterfront for NL) and historic resources to make themselves a destination city (look at Stonington and Mystic - and also Portsmouth NH comes to mind). What is NL doing to replicate the successes of those communities? We don't need a Trader Joe's. We need clean streets and better traffic flow. We don't need Buckeley House and the feeling of a frat party. And we don't need "developers" who don't develop but instead make a mess of the City (Capitol Theater, Shaw's landing (unfinished), the old Sub Cafe, etc).
Bill O'Donnell
I strongly believe New London needs to make sure that our parks and streets are clean and safe.  New London has an image that needs to be cleaned up and then marketed properly. Once this happens New London will be ready to capitalize and can become a success story like the other towns you mentioned.
- 9/3/2008 11:56:25 AM
Posted - 9/1/2008 11:05:26 AM
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has emphasized the importance of "community building" during his campaign; indeed, this was the crux of his work in Chicago before moving to the Senate. What benefit might downtown New London see with an Obama victory come November?
Jeffrey Wickersham
Waterford, CT

I believe an Obama victory in November would send a strong message that our country is ready to embrace the promise of change. If you support changing the way things have been done in the past not only would New London benefit but the entire country may become energized and new initiatives may take place.

- 9/3/2008 11:56:12 AM

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