How typical that Harry Rilling takes no blame. We were supposed to be reading Harry’s “explanatory statement” about the POKO disaster, instead we get a opinion letter deflecting any and all responsibility. “Jason Milligan is entirely to blame and all his actions are entirely to benefit himself,” Rilling wrote. The people in the area that have seen me donate my time and money to causes that benefit the area would disagree.
Harry: “We do not play favorites, negotiate back-door deals, or bend the rules for anyone.” That is exactly opposite of true.
Harry’s “transparent” administration took the unheard of step to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Citibank and a potential developer so they could keep their discussions secret. Secret because if public the plans would be rejected!
Laughably, it took Super Mario (Corporation Council Mario Coppola) four months to negotiate the NDA that only lasted 90 days. All the while, area businesses continued to struggle because their parking was stolen by the rotting “Tyvek Temple.”
Yes, I bought some properties that had sat abandoned and blighted for years. I have done nothing but improve the properties and make the area better.
Citibank and the City of Norwalk had the opportunity to match my offer for the properties prior to my closing. Neither stepped up! After closing, I spent almost three weeks giving Citibank a chance to purchase parking, or any parcels they might need. They had no plans. No ideas. All they had was a vague concept to try to double the size of POKO I. They would need to get more tax credits, more money from the city, and to try to weasel out of giving the city back the 100 public parking spaces. The city should thank me for smoking them out as not serious.
I want nothing from the city except for them to get out of the way and to make the rules easier and better for everyone.
Harry says my purchase was illegal. However, the Land Disposition Agreement for POKO (LDA) specifically accounts for the purchase of property exactly as it happened. The LDA calls it an unauthorized transfer. Section 13.2D protects the city. It states that regardless of how someone comes to own any of the properties in the redevelopment area they are still bound by the LDA. I recognize that I am bound by the LDA.
A meeting to explore solutions would be a good idea, but Mario has demanded unrealistic documentation prior to even an initial meeting. He basically wants me to create a new master plan for the area, and give an in-depth audit of several of my companies. At the proper time there would be a vetting of the company and players that would ultimately re-develop any project. Right now, we need a broad, open and high level discussion. Nobody is sure what company if any will move forward on anything because there is no viable project! One solution might be to scrap POKO and the LDAs entirely.
Harry: “We need this information to ensure there is no conflict of interest with its members and the city. This is standard and what is asked of any developer before a project moves forward.”
I agree that before any “project” moves forward that a thorough vetting of the company is in order. We are very far from that stage.
Instead of quality leadership, Norwalk gets an OP-ED from its mayor blaming others and taking no personal responsibility.
Harry why not put forward your vision for Wall Street along with your “Explanatory Statement” that we are all waiting for?
Milligan is a Norwalk real estate broker.