First Selectman Michael Tetreau delivered the latest on the Fairfield Metro Center, , at Monday’s Representative Town Meeting.
Due to the holidays, this month’s RTM was scheduled a week earlier than usual; Tetreau said that the cost updates had not been reported to him yet and were not incorporated in his briefing to the town body.
Thus the $40.8 million in total project costs hasn’t changed since the First Selectman last spoke to the RTM, nor have the expected use of contingency funds.
for the projected expenses for construction, he said.
Letter of Credit
Several surprises have cropped up since the last briefing. The First Selectman revealed that the contract with BlackRock Realty included that the company give the town a letter of credit for $500,000 -- an item that has not been mentioned recently.
Tetreau said he asked BlackRock Realty for that letter of credit and will keep the RTM updated on that progress.
Should BlackRock Realty not comply, the company would be in breach of its contract with the town, Tetreau said. However, a deadline for the letter was never stated in the contract, but neither was an expiration date for the town to receive it.
Train Depot/Concourse Building
Another murky aspect of the portrait, which Tetreau briefed the RTM on, is the development of BlackRock Realty’s concourse building -- or at least, a train depot that would house waiting commuters and restrooms.
According to the contract, if the building is not done in three to five years, it becomes the town’s responsibility.
The question Tetreau and other town officials are looking into is when that time period begins -- as soon as construction on the building began, or when the train station opened, or whether it dates back to when construction on the station itself began.
“I want to emphasize to BlackRock that they’ve got to do it,” Representative Ed Bateson, R-3, told Tetreau. “We’ve done more than enough for those guys.”
Tetreau assured he and others involved would do everything in their power to keep the concourse building under BlackRock Realty’s responsibility.
The end result of parking spaces at Fairfield Metro -- 1,369 -- is in violation of the 2003 contract with the state, which apparently stated that there must be 1,500 parking spots at the station that would be under the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) regulation.
Because of the shortfall, which Tetreau and other town officials are currently negotiating with the state, up to 131 parking spots at the downtown station may be handed over to DOT.
The spots have to be “comparable” to what the DOT presides over at the Metro Center, so the downtown parking spots will be located on the south side of the station, where some downtown merchants were supposed to be leasing the spots.
As Moderator Jeff Steele, R-2, pointed out, this would be a “win-win” situation for commuters; if DOT gets those spots back, they would no longer be leased to merchants, but used for commuter parking.
Once the station portion of the project is complete and all paperwork finished, the town will own the road that cuts through the site, known now as Access Road.
DOT will oversee the Bridgeport side of the road, but the town will maintain the Fairfield side -- taking care of potholes and clearing it of snow during the winter, Tetreau said.
The First Selectman’s Office will be taking suggestions for an official name for the road.
More Grant Money
While members of the RTM approved the $3 million grant for parking lot costs from the state on Monday, Tetreau revealed that there is still some grant money out there to reimburse for intersection improvement inspections.
The town can apply for $300,000 to $400,000 in grants from DOT, Tetreau said. This money would reduce the amount the town would have to bond in the future, he added.
Tetreau said the opening of the station was surprisingly smooth and his office has been getting few questions about the trains and their schedules, but the No. 1 question remains -- where are the restrooms?
“DOT said it’s not part of their plan, they're not doing it,” Tetreau said. DOT is responsible for amenities like
Representative David Becker, R-1, asked Tetreau if perhaps something like portable restrooms could be something the town could take care of.
Tetreau said that it depends on how many parking spaces such a facility would “chew up…they’re adamant about getting all those spots.”
He assured that the town would start looking into some options.