UPDATE at 5:10 p.m.
East Haven Mayor Maturo reports late this afternoon that he has cancelled the closed meetings on the future use of the old high school that were scheduled for today and tomorrow.
The Mayor's Office has released a prepared statement in conjunction with the notice regarding the cancellations.
The Mayor's Office noted that, other than the statement, there will be no additional comment at this time from the mayor regarding the issue.
The following is Mayor Maturo's statement to the press in full:
In response to recent reports regarding the former East Haven High School located at 200 Tyler Street, Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. released the following statement:
“My administration remains committed to involving all of our citizens in the collaborative process of evaluating plans for the future of the 200 Tyler Street property.
Over the past few weeks, my office has worked diligently to evaluate and put together a series of plans to present to the public. In a bipartisan attempt to reach out to all members of the Town Council, informal meetings were scheduled to solicit input on the plans prior to the scheduling of any public hearing. However, rather than accept the opportunity to work hand-in-hand on this important project, certain Town Council members have instead chosen to play politics.
To alleviate any concerns, the informal meetings which had been previously scheduled have been cancelled. However, my office will not allow political jockeying to disrupt or delay plans to move this project forward. We will continue to attempt to engage all of our council members in a bipartisan discussion regarding plans for 200 Tyler Street, which will be presented to our residents in public hearings in coming weeks.”
Some East Haven Democrats say the is engaging in "back door" dealings with a series of closed meetings regarding the future use of the old high school at 200 Tyler Street, according to a New Haven Register report.
The meetings will each feature members of Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr's staff, Paul Pizzo of the East Haven-based firm Landmark Architects P.C. and a select group of Town Council members.
Art DeSorbo, the director of administration and management, told The Register's Jennifer Swift the meetings were for informational purposes only, and not subject to Freedom of Information requirements because no one meeting would feature a quorum of council members.
The councilors reportedly were sent individual letters from DeSorbo's office asking them to attend one of the meetings, but at various dates and times to avoid a quorum.
But Democrats have criticized the move, saying the discussions should be held in public, before the full town board and subject to FOI law.
When asked about the closed meetings, Mayor Maturo reportedly told The Register he was unaware of the talks and was not included in any of them.
Senior Housing Plans
As East Haven Patch , Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr's administration has decided the best use of the town-owned property would be to sell the parcel to a developer who would then turn it into senior housing complex.
During last November's referendum, residents .
In April, however, Town Attorney Joseph Zullo reported that, in his legal opinion, to call the referendum in the first place — thereby voiding its results.
Although at the same meeting former Town Attorney told the council and maintained the vote was a binding one, the Maturo Administration moved forward with its plans to explore senior housing for the Tyler Street site.
In March, the town published a legal notice in the New Haven Register putting out a call for "request for qualifications" for engineering and architectural services "for the conversion of the Old East Haven High School, 200 Tyler Street East Haven, CT, to elderly rental housing apartments."
The deadline for proposal submissions was April 20.
Should the informational meetings on the future use of the old high school be held in a public session before the full Town Council? Or is the Mayor's Office within its right to discuss possible development plans for the site in a series of smaller, closed discussions? Let us know what you think in the comments below!