Information lacking on Norwich economic plan

At the Aug. 20 City Council meeting a bond ordinance requesting $8.5 million for economic development was presented for the council's consideration. This followed a presentation by the Norwich Community Development Corp. on July 24, where the council was given information on the proposed bond programs and relevant information regarding the impact of the current downtown economic development bond. Several questions were asked and answered, prompting more questions.

Among the information shared with the council on that night was the claim that every expended dollar of the current bond has generated $9.22 in “economic impact." Another was that several lessons had been learned through the successful and the failed projects in the current bond. As members of the City Council, our examination of the current bond was central to our decisionmaking process regarding the proposed ordinance, as was our examination of the process used to write that proposed ordinance.

During the three weeks between the presentation and the council’s vote, no less than 20 additional questions were asked by the Democratic caucus, five other program stipulations were put forward, and Alderman Joseph A. DeLucia personally met with the NCDC leadership. Although we were accused of failing to engage in the process, nothing could be further from the truth. We asked simple questions: How are you measuring success? When will the citizens see a return? How did you arrive at your conclusions? The answers we received were lacking the detail that we expected.

We believe that it is the council’s duty to investigate, to examine, and to question every issue until we are satisfied that an ordinance best serves the city and its citizens, even when a referendum is required. This ordinance did not meet that standard, leaving us with no choice but to defeat it.

This is not a partisan issue. We believe that this program has the potential to be a great success. We are committed to working with Mayor Peter Nystrom in his work to promote economic development and to increasing the Grand List. Moving forward, our request is that the process of refining initiatives like this one be more deliberate, more complete, and worthy of our enthusiastic endorsement.

Stephanie Burnham, Samuel Browning and Joseph A. DeLucia are Democratic members of the Norwich City Council. On a four in favor, three against party-line vote, the proposal to authorize bonding for up to $8.5 million in support of economic develoment failed to get the five votes needed for approval. 

 

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