Norwich City Council won't revive $8.47 million economic development bond

Norwich — The City Council meeting ended quickly Tuesday night, without a mention of a last-minute effort by Mayor Peter Nystrom to try again to pass the failed proposed $8.47 million economic development bond.

The proposal promoted by Nystrom called for creating a new economic development incentive package for developers in key areas throughout the city and for proposals that would renovate long-stagnant properties. But at the Aug. 20 meeting, the council fell one vote short of sending on the plan to voters in a November referendum.

The party line vote Aug. 20 was 4-3 in favor but needed a 5-2 majority for approval. The council’s three Democrats, Aldermen Joseph DeLucia, Samuel Browning and Stephanie Burnham, voted against the ordinance.

One of the three who voted against it would have had to raise the issue again Tuesday for it to be reconsidered, the last chance to get the item placed on the November ballot.

Nystrom had made overtures to the council Democrats last week and weekend but said his effort was thwarted.

“They had one more chance,” Nystrom said. “I think the public should have a chance to vote. They say their questions haven’t been answered, and I frankly don’t agree with that. They may not have liked the answers.”

Nystrom called the proposal “viable” and said none of the money in the five proposed incentive programs would have been spent without a specific development on the table.

“This closes the door,” Nystrom said. “Unfortunately, these three feel the voters shouldn’t have the right to vote on this.”

DeLucia said the City Council has a deeper responsibility than to just forward various measures to the voters for approval. He said Nystrom failed to understand the issues presented by the three opponents. He said questions about program management, rules and procedures for program recipients and the administration fee the Norwich Community Development Corp. would have received never were answered.

“The point of the matter is that we as the seven elected leaders of this community have a duty and responsibility to make sure that anything of this magnitude is in the best interest of the city before we put it out to the voters,” DeLucia said. “Our approach, the three of us who voted against it, is that when we vote yes on a bond, we are sending a signal that we support it and are sending it along to the voters. We don’t think this is a good idea. It needs to be better before we put it on the ballot.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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