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Is '200 Tyler Street Referendum' Binding?

The Mayor's Office has requested a legal opinion on whether or not last November's referendum results on what do to with the former East Haven High School are binding on the town.

The voters may have cast their ballots, but it appears the question of how best to use the continues to remain an unanswered one.

Art DeSorbo, director of administration and management, reported at last night's the status of the town-owned 200 Tyler Street property cannot be determined until the Mayor's Office receives a legal opinion it has requested.

That opinion will advise whether or not town officials must keep to the results of last November's referendum, which gave three choices in determining the vacant building's future:

  1. Shall the property located at 200 Tyler Street be rehabilitated at a cost to the Town and used for educational purposes?
  2. Shall the property located at 200 Tyler Street be rehabilitated at a cost to the Town and used for community purposes?
  3. Shall the property located at 200 Tyler Street be sold by the Town for condominium use?

Residents voted to of renovating the aging facility for community use.

Is It Binding?

But it is now unclear what, if any, legal teeth those votes will have in deciding the future of the 8-acre parcel.

"It's been turned over to the town attorney to determine if the referendum is binding or not for the town," DeSorbo told Town Council members.

Town Attorney Joseph Zullo added last night that he expects to have more information about the matter at next month's Town Council meeting.

Aging Building

The old East Haven High School has been vacant since the school shut its doors in 1997. Currently, only the and the community pool remaining inside the 1936 structure.

A proposed deal in 2006 to sell the parcel to private developers that wanted to build senior housing was quickly squashed after public opinion at that time came out strongly against it.

Fall Referendum

In hopes of reviving the property, former Mayor April Capone formed a in hopes its members would develop recommendations for the best future use of the property.

Unable to narrow it down to just one choice — community use, educational use or sell the property to condominium developers — town officials decided to through a referendum on the Nov. 8 municipal election ballot.

Joseph Badamo March 08, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Joe Badamo member of town council District four This is a very sad moment in our town when our mayor would not honor the vote that was on the ballot in november . telling the voters that there voices may not be heard lets listen to the people who live in this town for a change and do what the say
Rosie March 08, 2012 at 04:16 PM
What the residents voted should be all that matters now. Why would there be any reason to have to get an attorney involved?? Anyone who would sell off that piece of property is an idiot. My vote, which was to use this building for what it was intended for, as an educational center, and which this town is in desperate need of, did not win the referandum, but I absolutely would NEVER sell.
Bob Fawkes March 08, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Did you expect anything less from Maturo? The man does what he wants and 'to hell' with the people. Watch who's awarded the contracts on this one. Lots of payola to be had.
Mitch March 08, 2012 at 04:26 PM
It will cost approximately $24 million to renovate the building and bring it up to code so it could be used for community purposes. It was essentially the same amount to renovate it for educational purposes. These figures come from someone who was involved with the "options" committees. Interestingly, the third option was initially that the Town would sell the building. Then the mayor at the time had it reworded to include the word "condiminium" presumably knowing that this would be the "kiss of death" to that particular option. Again, this comes from someone who was involved in the process.
Lou March 08, 2012 at 05:43 PM
It's funny how the people that did not agree with Patrick Madley's posts in the past ridiculed him for being young and naive. While I do not share his views on certain subject matters, he is one of the very few people that is actually making sense right now. I think we should all read his posts from the last couple of months and learn from his attitude. In my opinion, he is hitting the nail on the head. Who cares that April did this or Joe did that. We need to come together as a town and thrive. Bury the hatchet people, it's not about party lines at this point. Can't we all work nicely together as a team? While your at it take a step back and read some of the posts pertaining to this article. Embarrassing isn't it? Although it may seem it, we are not a bunch of adolescence. There are some highly educated people in this town and people that have been living here for many many years who have a wealth of knowledge. Let's start acting like grown ups and stop giving the media excuses to portay our town as a circus. This bickering back and forth is crazy and must stop. Again, if we all have an attitude similiar to this young man more problems could be solved in an efficient manner. Grow up people and look at the big picture here. Let's keep out quaint town out of the papers and let's start getiing this train moving in the right direction.
Richard Poulton March 08, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Can you advise when the mayor(Capone) went public about closing up the old HS and turning off or down the heat to save money. I remember reading about that but can't recall when she did that. The reason I ask is if one was to review the minutes of the TC meeting of 7/5/201 you will see where Mr. Thompson, then finance director, was looking for transfer approval of $80,000 to go towards gas bill for old HS. When asked if that included heating the pool he stated "no". That it cost an average of $10 to $20 thousend a month for heat. If windows were closed and heat turned off, why the extremely high gas bill??? Also I don't see any where that a mayor not just this mayor, has to get public approval or give advanced notice of his choice for police chief.
Ivanna D. Truth March 08, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I hear you Patrick, My point is, this was voted on, why is he trying to do what "he" wants? why are town resources being used to see if he can do what he and his crew want? this was a referendum on the ballot, whether or not he agrees with it or it is legally binding is irrelevant. Its what the taxpayers voted on.
Richard Poulton March 08, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Sorry, town council meeting of 7/5/2011
Skip Thomas March 08, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Only 24 million? I would have guessed more. We do not have the money. We may never have it. So, what to do? I want a nice community center as much if not more than the next guy. I also want a brand new Challanger SRT8. Guess what? I dont have the money. So i cant have one. I also don't have the ability to dictate to my boss that my income be increased by the percent required to afford one. The town can do that but then many would be. Complaining about the tax increase. (The same people complaining in this thread btw.)
Rosie March 08, 2012 at 07:56 PM
But, are there some sort of federal grants that can be obtained if it is to be used for educational purposes?? I know that was true at one time, but not sure about now.
James March 08, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I wonder how much the finial cost would be after government grants.would be for public use for the town? And why would Joe ever do what the majority of the voters want. How would the Maturo Gang get rich that way? One of the chosen few must have a get rich plan for the building Same as the Candle Light.
ASmith March 09, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Seems like this story jes sounds so familiar. Remember union school? can betcha they will sell it, some real estate agent who's somebodies buddy will get a big finders fee and guess who he'll share the dough with? nothin ever changes in this burg. town government gives nothin back to the people and they waste all the tax money they's get. when are folks gonna wake up? how come other towns similar in our size manage to do better? cause we always hire bad managers that's why. accountability starts at the top. time to start puttin in honest smart folk and not crooked dummies. Town should figure out a way for this here buildin to make us money. Why sell the land? why not retain ownership of it and do a lease on it. demolish the worst part of it. rehab what is good and lease it out to a private enterprise, so we get money comin in all the time from it. then if things improve in the future we could always change the use of it. at least it won't be gone for good. pretty soon the town won't own anythin anymore. can get grant money to help with rehab and the lease will pay back what the town put in. eventually its all paid for and the town still owns. seems to me the city of milford did a similar thing to the school building in town. leased the land. smart move. course Milford don't got taco joe.
ASmith March 09, 2012 at 03:21 AM
xcuse me. i mean jose.
Charlie Rome March 09, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Just so everyone knows, the gym in the old high school has been home to the Sal Tinari Biddy basketball league since the school was closed. The league services some 550 children from Oct. thru March. The league tries to maintain the part of the building it uses with limited town funds. Since the league operates in the winter it does need heat which the town pays for. If the league loses use of this facility it is unsure where it would go. If it goes to a school or schools, the custodial costs would be very substantial to the town, or the league would have to disband after a 58 year run.
Gene Italiano March 09, 2012 at 12:34 PM
When is two cents just NOT worth two cents? Read this guy above............. not all are SAVANTS some just IDIOTS.
Sam Giglio March 09, 2012 at 01:56 PM
There is a way to save that Building for the Town, We need to work together as a group and make sure that the vote of the people is acted on. There are many plans that can be used, plus grant money. You will never regroup this land or Building in the Center of Town if you let it go. Times are bad now but with good planing and a look at the future in time this would serve the Town well Planing that's all it takes, and a will to get it done
Noreen March 09, 2012 at 05:48 PM
The people VOTED on this referendum so nobody forced it down the throats of the East Haven voters. It could have just as easily gone the other way with voters saying to sell to developers.
Noreen March 09, 2012 at 06:08 PM
This is in reply to Patriots response to you. I don't feel that the referendum is vague as you state Patriot. Any person who can think knows that if the town was going to keep the building for educational or community use it would cost the taxpayers some sort of money. And we also know that if the property was to sell it would bring in some cash to the town as well as provide a minimal tax payer boost. Maybe the issue is really What does East Haven want for it's future? A town with every square inch covered in housing or some areas that are left open for community use, for open space, etc... Maybe the community use could be a park with parking and the pool?? What I am saying is that the younger generations know that the environment and the community is sometimes a better long term choice than the immediate savings from a quick sale. Once it is sold and developed than there is no changing. And it's time that we as citizens start to look toward the future of the town and the impact of housing unit after housing unit, (with the added costs for town services of such additions) and not just the immediate. The voters have voted and that should count for something. Voters could have voted for sale too, but they didn't.
Noreen March 09, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Seniors don't exactly pay full taxes and would not contribute much to the tax rolls and No, if the voters wanted it to be senior housing we would have voted for it to be sold to developers
Noreen March 09, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Bob, anyone who has a brain knows that a sale could mean lots of things, the word condominium could mean lots of things,( think senior housing, regular housing, commercial condos, etc..) The word 'condominium' did not give that choice the "kiss of death" and to imply that it would really insults the intelligence of the community in whole, making an assumption that we are all to dumb to infer what a 'sale' of the property could mean.
Noreen March 09, 2012 at 06:22 PM
The town at least need to maintain ownership of this land. Once the land is sold it is gone forever, and land is something this town is getting very short on. How much open space, or community property is in the town from say south of 95 to the sound?? I bet most of the area is built upon.
Noreen March 09, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I agree 100%
RicRaf March 09, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Just to reiterate what Charlie Rome noted. Every year from mid September until April, the Sal Tinari Biddy Basketball uses the gym and surrounding rooms at 200 Tyler to run their programs. This part of the building is maintained by both the league and )with a great deal of cooperation) the town. Without the use of 200 Tyler I would hate to think what would happen to our league and the recreation it provides to 500 boys and girls from grades 1 to 8. I served on the committee that formulated the referendum and am president of the biddy basketball league and am proud of what both have done for the long term good of the town.
Ann Della Camera March 09, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Donna, If it was at the time considered to dangerous for our kids to go to school there, why now would you want to put our seniors in there> I for one always believed it could have been renovate at the time, but I am sure there was a good land offer to put the high school in foxen, where most kids have to travel extra hours just to get there. I am against selling the building and awear that the town can not own a business property. Its a large piece of land, but on a street that could not consider some ideas I would like to see happen with it. We already have to much senior housing in the town along with to many condo's. This coming from a senior. There has to be an answer, and the peoples vote should be honored.
Ann Della Camera March 09, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Noreen, I beg your pardon, Seniors which I am one pay a lot of taxes to the town, whatever gave you the idea we had a free ride. Get your facts stright.
Ann Della Camera March 09, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Asmith, another comment without researching it. Ask your friend Mr Mauro, who took the slate roofing tiles, and much of the antique insides out of the building. Who brought it, trust me I know a lot on that subject.
Ann Della Camera March 09, 2012 at 11:32 PM
RicRaf, I would not want to see these kids lose what they have, Keep kids off the streets and learning good sportmanship is what our future depends on. I think both my idea and them staying could work. Without much cost to the town. That is valuable land and we have to keep it. Congrats on being there for kids that really want to grow up the right way.
Mike Liso March 09, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Approx 5 years ago, a New York firm wanted to buy the building and make it into condos. The pool and gym was going to remain in Town control for a $1.00 a year lease. The drawings showed a beautiful design with a gazebo and parking. The East Haven Academy administration and parents came to the meeting at JMMS and spoke against them having to leave the building. Where are they now?
susie snipets March 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Regarding grants: is there any truth to the most recent rumblings that the town of east haven can be in jeopardy of losing federal funding and grants because of the lack of cooperation by town hall with the consent decree. Imagine how disastrous that would be to the town. maybe someone can find out if that can really happen. I sure hope not.
Robin Carlson March 10, 2012 at 02:40 PM
That's a good question Susie. Maybe someone else knows more about that.

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