Letter: Reader seeks more transparency on downtown project

To the editor:

Crucial questions regarding the downtown project have gone completely unanswered for far too long. The residents of Bristol are not alone in this circumstance because part of the problem is a systematic one.

Wallingford attorney and Town Councilor Craig Fishbein has taken the issue of transparency to the state’s Freedom of Information Commission and asked them to determine whether Wallingford Center, Inc., (the agency tasked with downtown development using public monies) is a public agency.

State Representative Roberta Willis has asked the same of the nonprofit University of Connecticut Foundation Inc .

In West Haven, residents flooded a special meeting changing its Redevelopment Commission to an agency with powers of eminent domain.

Those who value a transparent government have been showing their concerns about quasi public-private nonprofits with just cause. The question is a simple one: “Should the details regarding public monies for public affairs be a secret from the host taxpayers because of an organization’s “legal status”?”

Other local issues of angst revolve around the expansion of housing in the downtown. The underlying issue issue is whether or not the city will have the means to control the outcome of this endeavor. As stated by Board of Finance Commissioner John Smith at a Special Meeting last June, “We can forget about moving this city forward until we begin to change the demographics.”

This leads to the question that has been asked by more residents than any other. “How will the city prevent an expansion of low income housing in the future of the downtown?”

Huntington Woods’ former “workforce housing” status has transformed into 80 percent low-income, adding to the city’s social services costs.

What will prevent a housing complex on a CTFastrak stop from doing the same if state policymakers in the Department of Housing and the Interagency Council on Affordable Housing have goals that are to provide transit access to low income residents?

Residents deserve a direct answer before the city moves forward.

Shawn Ruest, Bristol