The Bridgeport News
by Jeff Toquinto, NEWS EDITOR
BRIDGEPORT (Thursday, February 6, 2003) --
For the past two years, Bridgeport’s City Council has met after the majority of its meetings in executive session. Almost without fail, the sessions are described to those on hand as discussing "advanced construction planning."
In fact, the last three Bridgeport Council gatherings, and seven of the last 10, have concluded with executive sessions discussing that very topic. And, there’s never any formal announcement after coming out of these sessions.
While it’s well within the city’s rights to meet to discuss those matters according to State Code, considering there has been little out of the ordinary major construction – save Target and Dicks – aside from home construction and renovations, one has to wonder just what’s being discussed.
Although Bridgeport City Manager Kim Haws said he is unable to discuss the particulars of the executive sessions, he said it’s safe to assume something major is about to happen, or is planned to happen in Bridgeport.
"I think that goes without saying," said Haws. "There are a number of major projects in the works requiring city council discussion. Obviously, nothing is far enough along that any (contracting) awards have been let yet, but the projects are vast and variable and should soon become public knowledge."
Just how soon was something Haws didn’t know. What he did confirm is that at least some of the projects involve Charles Pointe.
If that’s the case, it would involve the first of what was supposed to be several major announcements at the $750 million development. Charles Pointe, which was first announced in September of 2000, was supposed to involve several major projects. To date, nothing concrete has taken place.
"It’s safe to say that in terms of some of the multi-million dollar projects that they are associated with Charles Pointe," said Haws. "There are several other areas in and around Bridgeport, the airport is prominent in nature, that have been discussed."
Although Haws said it would benefit the city and the area’s populace for announcement to come in short order, he said it’s not unusual for major projects to take years to develop.
"In previous jobs, I’ve worked with projects that take four or five years of planning between a city and the private sector before a project comes to fruition," said Haws. "From the city’s standpoint, though, we want the time lies to be going a lot faster."
Haws said the majority of the discussion involves projects that will have the city’s thumb print on it, but won’t necessarily involve the bulk of the dollars needed to make it happen. Haws added that because the projects are largely stemming from private areas and may involve government funding, things will go much slower than the city and its residents would like."
"When you factor that in, you have to make sure the financial plan is solid and all contingencies are considered, and that takes time," said Haws.
"We’ll keep working at it because if just 10 percent of the projects being discussed become reality, then 2003 would be a good, actually an incredible year."