Baron’s South: Dueling Proposals

John McCarthy has followed the Baron’s South senior care center project closely. When the committee appointed by the first selectman announced its endorsement of a proposal submitted by the Rose Group, John was surprised.

He received information from the Hillspoint Group, which the committee had rejected. The Hillspoint Group used “limited information” provided by the committee in its September 21 meeting handout, and discussion at a public meeting the same day, to determine what was in the Rose Group’s proposal, and prepare a comparison.

John sent the document below — provided by the Hillspoint Group — to the RTM and Board of Finance. It says:

On the surface, this rejected proposal would have offered significantly more money to the town, and would have guaranteed that 70 units would be available for Westport seniors.

It also provided a mechanism with which the town could have provided “scholarships” to pay for housing seniors who needed help….

Economics: The Rose proposal offers a 1-time land purchase payment of $500,000 and an annual PILOT payment of $250,000. The Hillspoint proposal offers a base land lease payment of $1,250,000 plus escalation and real estate tax payments calculated to be $1,018,800 based on the current town mill rate, growing to an estimated $1,291,717 in year 10. The Hillspoint ground lease offer equates to a present value of approximately $29,000,000 at town borrowing rates.

Affordability: The Rose proposal offers to make available 59 one-bedroom, 550-square foot apartments at an affordable rent of $1,086 per month through an affordable housing tax credit program. The Hillspoint proposal does not require federal or state funding, and offers 70 units to be made available to Westport-only seniors with incomes ranging from $30,000 to 75% of median income.

Residents would be required to contribute a maximum of 30% of their income toward occupancy costs. The balance would be provided through a town-administered scholarship program funded as portion of the revenues paid by the project to the town.

Scholarship-occupied units would include 1- and 2-bedroom units ranging from 805 to 1,204 square feet. Scholarship residents would also receive health care services from the project’s health care center included in their life care residency agreement.

One proposal for senior housing at Baron’s south.

Aging in Place: One of the core objectives of the Request for Proposal is to provide an environment for aging in place. The Hillspoint proposal is to develop a continuing care retirement community licensed by the state to provide residential and health care services under a coordinated Life Care Residency Agreement. This provides for the ability of a resident, including couples, to reside independently yet have access to on-site health care services including in-home care, assisted living, skilled nursing care, memory support, rehab and hospice care. This is the ultimate form of aging in place.

The Rose Group proposal offers in-home and other offsite health care services to be provided under a separate contract — and at additional cost — by the Jewish Home for the Elderly.

Public Use/Open Space: The Hillspoint proposal offers to renovate the Baron’s Mansion and use it for public meetings and events, as well as enhancing the building to include a greenhouse and potting gardening center to be the focal point for a 5+/- acre botanical garden open to the public. The botanical gardens would include newly developed walking trails, picnic areas and other public amenities.

The Rose Group proposal does not include development of any new public facilities, nor even a responsibility to improve the existing conditions.

Summary: It appears that for the sake of not pursuing the administrative requirements of a zoning text amendment to enable a single-phase development, along with other modifications required to accommodate the details of any selected proposal, the Hillspoint proposal was eliminated from consideration. The Hillspoint proposal was eliminated from further consideration even though it appears to be overwhelmingly more beneficial to both the future residents it proposes to serve, and the financial health of the Town of Westport.

(To view the entire Hillspoint Group’s comparison with the Rose Group, click here.)

117 responses to “Baron’s South: Dueling Proposals

  1. April Fool, right?

  2. Evidently, Downtown 2010 wants to hire a consultant so that they can get another artist’s rendering of park benches at Parker Harding. Who elected those guys? Good times!

    Thanks John for your diligence.

  3. I am enormously upset with this clear political charade. I have read the comparison document and on the surface cannot believe that the BS Committee chose the Rose Proposal. Either the facts presented therein are in error or the committee and/or our First Selectman are in cahoots with Rose in some way. Adding to my amazement is the clear opaqueness of the Committee and subsequent town meetings. No in depth details on the Rose proposal and the appearance of trying to “bull” this through. Let’s get to the bottom here. Thank you John McCarthy!

  4. Westport Convert

    I think there is a reason the Baron’s South “advisors” will forever be known as the BS Committee. Haha! It is no coincidence.

    This might go down as one of the most pathetic blunders in our town’s history. Along with the Y’s move to Macheckeno and Winslow Park (although I am not as opposed to the concept – just poorly executed).


  5. I understand that Blumenthal’s son’s construction firm has also partered in the “winning” JHE bid. I can’t decide if I’m more embarrassed because I’m Jewish or that I’m a Democrat.

  6. I hope people who are concerned about this issue will go to the RTM meeting on Tuesday, October 2nd and the Board of Finance meeting on Wednesday, October 3rd where these proposals will be reviewed. It’s critical that the public speak up about this travesty!

  7. I would rather have a root canal than attend one of those meetings. To speak in public only to be ignored is more painful than the prospect that they are going to do this anyway. What do I hope for? Jail for some of these folks when their underhanded, dishonest dealings come to light. Maybe not before they get to do some damage to our town, but at some point someone has to hold these arrogant little people responsible for their dishonesty.

  8. I assume that the RTM has the final approval on this and that they will be able to see the appropriate course of action?

    • It would appear, based on Mr. McCarthy’s post (please clarify if I got this wrong), that the reason the Hillspoint bid was deemed unacceptable was because it would require the 1st & 2nd Selectmen to make their case to the P&Z for a text amendment. Currently, the BS fiasco is the brainchild of only 2 elected officials – one of which is essentially ceremonial, and their hand picked committee(s).

      If that is the case it is truly sad, because it demonstrates that even when confronted with a better deal, they still know this whole thing would be DOA if it was exposed to the electoral/public scrutiny a project of this scope should be required to undergo… before they give a $29 million plot of land away.

  9. Please delete my comment. I don’t want to participate in this conversation. You’re right. People are stealing from theis town and I’m screaming “thief” and you’re telling me to be civil. I’m OK with this. Perhaps I am too blunt for this conversation. Please delete my comment and this comment. I’m done commenting. Thanks.

    • I’m out this morning. I’ll do it when I get home. In terms of the mailing list, you have to do that via the “unsubscribe” button when you receive it.

      Sent from my iPhone Please excuse typos and brevity!

    • Please reconsider and let Dan leave you comments. Fighting fire with fire is appropriate. I find them civil enough.

      • Please don’t delete justwarren’s comments, Dan. I think they’re important for the public and the administration to read! What he wrote is absolutely true.

        • I’ve been out all morning — sorry I wasn’t around during this kerfuffle. My call for “civility” was in response to Justwarren calling for “jail” time — that was it. I’ll ask him if he still wants the post removed.

  10. A small group of people are seeking to expropriate town owned property to exploit for their own benefit. It happens all the time when regimes are corrupt.

  11. That’s why it’s critical that the public attend the RTM and BOF meetings next week – because this entire process has been so subverted and they’re GIVING AWAY town-owned land that’s worth a bloody fortune. PLEASE attend these meetings and speak out against this terrible deal! Both the RTM and the BOF listen to the public, and will make the administration listen to the public too!

  12. Matt Mandell – You are usually an active reader/poser here so surprised you haven’t weighed in.

    Where do you stand on this issue? Given your suggestion to hold the Bedford Square developers for ransom before letting them move the old Victorian house from their property (pushing it but not necessarily a bad idea BTW), I would think you would be violently against this blatant giveaway of town property.

    Just curious.

    • Matthew Mandell

      Since this issue must come through the RTM committee I chair, I’ll wait until I have all the facts in front of me before I make any call. I am waiting on the synopsis breakdown of the bids and have called a number of times for the full bids to be scanned and available to the public. Having all the facts is imperative and I surely don’t have any at the moment. I have seen nothing other than what’s been in the papers at this point. Nothing is moving forward so quickly that anyone needs to be hasty. The RTM will be reviewing this project, but as someone asked before, the RTM DOES NOT have final say, only can recommend. The BOF and I believe P&Z gets to make a call on the lease, but not the project per se.

      As for the comparison to Bedford Square, right, the developer of Barons must also offer a deal that benefits the town and not build just what they want. (The balance of land use, density, money, Westport use and affordable are the mix that needs to be weighed. ) This is not a new concept on my part, ask any P&Z Commish. I have been saying negotiation and horse trading in the favor of the town should be the basis of any larger development and approval. BTW there are no hostages here, anyone is free to not build here, but if you do, make it worth our while, (see my list above) and include historic in Bedford’s case.

      • Serious question, Matt. With all the subterfuge going on, how can you be confident you “have all the facts in front of me.” When I was on the RTM, there were many many times where the most eloquent [too many names to mention here] gave us a huge SNOW JOB. After the fact, it was “too late, sorry…ha ha.”

        • Matthew Mandell

          I may not. But I have to have faith in the system and look at what’s in the file. Then make my own call on who I would have picked for the development. If same, then that’s that. If different, then see why and see if some modifications can be made to equal it out. I just got the synop of the issues and am going over it before tonight’s presentation.

  13. Matt – That would be poster, not poser. Really should proofread before pressing enter….

  14. For me, the big issue is the use by the 1st selectman of special committees made up of un-elected volunteers to do his bidding. He is now in a position to say, “While I stand by the committee’s work, I was not involved with this recommendation, it was all the work of the committee.” And the unpaid, un-elected volunteers, who’s decision parameters, I believe, were guided by the 1st and 2nd Selectman’s agendas, will be thrown under the bus. They will join me there, as I know I am being criticized by many for trying to get this process into the open.

    I want to be clear that I am not criticizing the volunteer members of the committee, who worked hard and were dedicated. I am criticizing that the committee was hand-picked by the 1st selectman to do a very specific task.

    Had Gordon asked that a truly bi-partisan committee be established to study options for how senior housing and services might be provided on Baron’s South, I think there would have been a much more transparent process and a different outcome. Such a committee, if it was made up of members with diverse opinions and selected from the P&Z, BOF, RTM and general public, would generally have a broader perspective and vision than those selected simply because they let Gordon know that they wanted to help get senior housing on Baron’s South.

    • Westport’s numerous committee volunteers are our honest, hard working neighbors. To suggest nefarious intent ignores the obvious – the BS process as constructed by the 1st Selectmen is entirely legal – it just sucks from an open government and good policy perspective, and has never been held up to voter scrutiny. The one time Westport voters were given a chance to approach this issue, the chairman of the P&Z lost his gavel.

      • I have never said, nor do I believe, that any volunteers on the committee have acted with “nefarious intent.”

        “It’s Legal,” is the floor of what we can do as citizens; all citizens, especially elected officials must strive to be better than just “legal.”

        • “I have never said, nor do I believe, that any volunteers on the committee have acted with “nefarious intent.””

          I concur. I apologize if my post suggest otherwise. I was commenting on the other posts that have suggested nefarious intent. Corruption is the CT state pastime – so it’s easy to go there with Barron’s South. While I am no longer capable of surprise when it comes to CT corruption, my thinking on Barron’s South is why would they do anything illegal when the legal process is so easy to manipulate. That’s the real rot here – and unfortunately a problem much, much bigger than Westport.

  15. Here’s my last post, at least for a while. I get genuinely upset and passionate when people who we elect, at least by a majority, do not properly steward our money or our best interests in favor of their own. My passion in my post was evident and perhaps provocative. But I stand by what I said. I just don’t have the energy to talk around these kinds of issues. There is blatant dishonesty going on here. I am pretty sure it’s illegal to set up a faux competitive bidding process behind closed doors and eliminate the better offer because it might be harder to execute.

    I am a huge Dan Woog fan and have been so for a long time. But I think he made a mistake in his response to my post. Regardless, if you agree with me or disagree with me, I will always strive to be respectful…except if you steal from me and from my town. That just plain makes me angry! But that’s it for me. I am not suggesting that anyone, myself included should or would do anything beyond stating an opinion. Simply stated, I think there is stealing going on here in the form of back door deals, sweetheart contracts and the like. People who steal should be held accountable through an appropriate legal process at the end of which, if they are found guilty, they should be made to pay a penalty for their crimes, up to and including jail. See Rod Blagojevich story for more details on how this works. Dan apparently found this too blunt, provocative or potentially incendiary. I respectfully disagree. The truth is the truth.

    I am very grateful to the people who made the follow up comments to my original post. I love Westport. It has been the best place I have ever lived. While I have “only” lived here for 20 years and I didn’t grow up here, my affection and concern for this town is no less than anyone else’s. The actions discussed by people in town government display an egregious and blatant disrespect and disregard for the people who live in this town. Again, it really upsets me. But I hope that good folks like you Amy and I think virtually everyone else who has commented on this article will have the patience and know how to start making this right. It’s not going to be me as I don’t have the stomach for it, particularly when I am scolded for stating my opinion, and as the future will surely bear me out, the truth.

    • Thanks, Warren — much appreciated. As noted in a couple of my replies above, my call for civility was simply a reaction to a call for “jail” — I thought that was a bit over the top. It is never my intent to muzzle anyone, and I appreciate your — and everyone’s — responses to this important issue.

      • Thanks Dan. I’m calmed down. I think this is an important forum and you do a terrific job. We can occasionally disagree without one of us going ballistic. In this case, me.

        • Thank YOU, Warren — on we go!

          • Wow, just read through this whole thread! Excellent conflict resolution skills! People using real language to communicate and come together, and not using inflammatory language, e.g. “whining” as per one example which only separates people. This brings unity which you all will need for this issue, sounds like. Way to go Warren and Dan!

  16. Westport Politics Are A Joke

    This is further proof that King Gordon, also known as Mr. WestportNow, simply did not deserve the position. I am ashamed this town that I love so dearly actually chose that clown. Gordo needs to fade away into obscurity.

    How long can he serve for, exactly??? What is the term limit? I ask that sincerely. If it weren’t for our incredible town reps and community advocates, Westport would be a mess. Gordo is an ex-journalist who disgraces the name of Public Office – something I dedicated my life to many years ago.

  17. joseph signorile

    i’ve read the proposals as well and it truly seems that an unfair process has prevailed. To any person who understands economics and business the HIllspoint proposal is better in most every metrix…its a joke whats going on

  18. I for one intend to attend the two meetings (RTM & BOF) and if necessary be an outspoken critic of this process and result thus far. Like Amy Ancel I encourage ALL interested to attend these meetings to see what our town government is going to do about this debacle and make their opinions on the subject, whatever they are, known. Although I enjoy posting anonymously and not on this blog it’s a waste of time if you think it’s going to influence Joseloff/Kassen et al. Joseloff’s snide comments about the “media” at the 9/21 meeting told me everything I needed to know about how he disregards public opinion. A sign of a man in trouble.

    • Tom,
      I totally agree with you and Amy and several others who have posted their concerns about this “process”. If I can bring myself to come, can I support you and Amy somehow and not have to address this committee, or even better not have to come? This might also apply to others who are in vigorous opposition who can not come. I work really long hours and have so little time off it pains to me sit through one of these meetings but I do think if I feel so passionately I have to show my support, at the very least. I think I can come on Tuesday. Let me know if and how I can do this.

      • My wife and I shall be at the meeting. I am not a “meeting-goer-toer” so I have no idea how the meeting will be run or exactly how to participate if I am so moved. We are mid 70’s seniors and almost 50 year residents and VERY interested in how are tax dollars are spent and keeping government process “clean.” Let’s see what happens. Come it shouldbe fun.

  19. This process has been rigged from the beginning. I recall Gordon & Shelly set up their BS “working group” which included people from the Jewish Home for the Elderly. This was a clearly biased group that was a precursor to the current committee. One could clearly question the motives of Shelly with her long history (well documented on the internet) of direct financial support to the Jewish Home for the Elderly. This looks to me like continued indirect support and her past history demonstrates she has a personal interest in the Jewish Home. Section C38-2 of the Town Charter defines conflict of interest. Participating in something you have a “personal interest” in is a conflict of interest.

  20. Joseloff and Kassen are the Siegfried and Roy of Westport. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, they’ve got another trick up their sleeve. (And they expect everyone to clap.)

    • Westport Convert

      Joseloff is a detriment to the continued wellbeing of this beautiful community. It is shameful that we, as a town, elected him. This decision is backfiring on those who originally stood with the ex-journalist and WestportNow publisher.


  21. “I hope people who are concerned about this issue will go to the [meetings] It’s critical that the public speak up about this travesty!” — Amy Ancel.

    Too bad she spoiled it all by using the word “travesty.” Wouldn’t it be better to get all the facts before reaching a conclusion? Or is it going to be “sentence first, verdict afterwards”?

    • “Too bad she spoiled it all by using the word “travesty.”

      Travesty = gross misinterpretation of an event..

      That seems to be a fair interpretation of the process so far In this case,

      So you think the onus for communication on such a big decision (financially and town character-wise) is on the public? And do you think that the process so far has been open and considerate of the community on par with the official’s responsibility?

  22. With Joseloff involved, I think Ancel is safe to assume the worst.

    • The same can be said for her

      • She’ll never be the self-promoting shill that Joseloff is. He who makes the news and covers the news tends to spin the news a certain way. And in case you haven’t noticed, Westport continues to be poorly served.

        • Someone voted for him; we get the government we deserve.

        • And Ancel was booted from office by her constituents. What did they know that we don’t?

          • Maybe she needed her own WestportNow.

          • Ahh…a professional troll! Now the fight is getting interesting.

            A casual citizen wouldn’t use the time-honored technique of not addressing the substance of the issue (the decision-making process), but attacking the personality while raising a doubt about their ethics while not identifying anything concrete.

            “Anonymous” here clearly has the fingerprint of someone working for the winning bidder.

            You say she was “booted from office.” Was she recalled or did she simply lose a fair election to someone else?

            As anyone who knows the internet well, starting to see the professional trolls come out on this subject means there is a lot at stake for some people. And forums are the first and easiest place to get down and dirty.

            Dan, you might want to think about verified and non-anonymous accounts at this stage. There is a side here that potentially has millions to gain from an opaque process. Don’t think your colloquial forum is immune to the relatively trivial expense to have you astroturfed. Other people have a lot of experience in “managing” community news and opinion.

      • While I seldom agree with Ms Ancel and would certainly never vote for her for any number of reasons, I must say that I agree with her in this case.

  23. Makes me sad to read what’s happening 🙁

  24. We should have a RECALL vote on GORDON. Better yet, since the Board of Finance can stop this project we should wait and RECALL any BOF member who votes for Gordan’s Boondoggle.

  25. cwdz, I believe that a lease for this project would only come before the RTM if the Board of Finance rejects the lease. And at the point the RTM would need a 70% vote to overturn the BOF rejection. Someone correct me if I’m wrong. So I think the next step would be for the 1st Selectman to send a lease to the Board of Finance for approval. I hear the BOF is being lobbied hard for this proposal. Email addresses for the BOF can be found here

    • Following e-mail sent to BOF (all)….I have NO idea that such things are effective…Let’s see

      I am a 47 year resident of the town and a mid-70’s senior. I am deeply concerned about the seemingly secretive nature of the process to develop that property. I have attended all public meetings (1) thus far of the Baron’s South Committee…few if any of the meaningful details of the recommended project were forthcoming. Details of a rejected proposal have come to light that on the surface at least clearly benefits WESTPORT seniors and the Town finances to a much better level than the recommended proposal. My wife and I are counting on each of you to compare the projects and decide which, if any, are the BEST for the Town and all of its citizens. We shall attend your upcoming meeting on this subject and make our feelings publicly known if provided the opportunity.

      Let’s get this Project into the light for inspection.

      Thank you,

  26. After checking with some of my sources, it turns out that the RTM won’t be hearing public input on Baron’s South on Tuesday night. It’s not even on the agenda. Only Gordon is going to have the floor to do a little presentation on the committee’s recommendation for the Jonathan Rose group and that’s the end of it.

    The BOF, however, will be open to public comment on Wednesday night, so if you want to put in your two cents on this project and the process, that’s the meeting to be at. Only the BOF has the power to impact this now, since they have to approve the lease with Rose, which is yet to come.

    If you have something to say about this project, say it to every member of the Board of Finance.

    • As 1st selectman, Gordon is always afforded the opportunity to briefly address the RTM. Not sure if that is by charter or custom. Should he choose to discuss this matter at the next RTM meeting on Tuesday there wouldn’t be public comment, as the issue is not on the RTM agenda. That is how this works, and that is how it should be.

      He has publicly said several times that he wouldn’t go forward with any proposal for Baron’s South if he didn’t think there was support for it within the RTM. So I would think he would take this chance to endorse the project, thank the BS committee for its hard work and of course vilify anyone who has spoken out against the process and helped create an un-civil atmosphere.

  27. Westport Convert

    Recalling “Mr. WestportNow” is actually a very good idea.

    I sincerely hope one of the many civic leaders, in this community, will step up and begin the movement. It needs initial momentum from a well-respected advocate in town.


  28. Don’t forget Joseloff needs to get past a P&Z commission that is no longer run by Corwin. Joseloff needs the P&Z’s approval for the sale or lease of town owned property. Joseloff did not get this approval with the 8-24 approval under the Corwin run commission. I would be shocked if the new P&Z majority backs this project.

  29. Anyone besides me thinkin’ Mr. Anonymous is in charge of getting the wagon’s in a circle to defend against the concerned citizens of Westport.

  30. I am not.

  31. Well which anonymous are you. I can’t tell with your “cloak of invisibility” on. 😃

  32. Nor me —- Thing one and Thing Two!

  33. Shocked, sort of...

    …but not really as this whole thing seems to be business as usual where Gordon Joseloff is concerned. People! Write the BOF, the RTM, the P&Z and anyone else you can think of. Take a minute to read the review from the Hillspoint Group at the bottom of Dan’s post, well worth it.

    Agree, the committee that the 1st Selectman convened is not at fault, though I cannot believe they wouldn’t have considered heartily the Hillspoint Group’s plan…I know some of them. Were they being told what to do by Gordon/Shelley? Lets make sure we get the VERY best project for Westport. Lets ask our elected boards to review this work where they can…John McCarthy! Dan Woog! Thank you for bringing this to light. MUCH more sunshine needed….

  34. Poll. Committee. Consultant.
    Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

    Actually running on an issue and let the voters decide… not so much. No messy democracy required – just the appearance.

  35. John McCarthy

    Yet another daytime meeting……Sort of like they only want Seniors to attend………Note that this project now has an official name “Baron’s South Senior Residential Community.” Looks to me like they are just going to go ahead with the PR and spin without pausing to explain to the entire community why they did what they did. Sad, but not surprised.

    Baron’s South Committee – Notice & Agenda
    Date: 10/5/2012 10:00 AM
    Location: Town Hall, Room 309
    Westport, Connecticut
    Legal Notice & Agenda

    Notice is hereby given that the Baron’s South Committee will hold a public meeting on Friday, October 5, 2012, at 10 a.m. in Room 309 of the Westport Town Hall. The committee will discuss its recommendation for the construction and management of the Baron’s South Senior Residential Community.

  36. Gordon’s in a big fat hurry to build his legacy, by hook or by crook, and obviously doesn’t think he needs to answer to the public for the actions and decisions of this committee. Maybe only the Hillspoint Group suing the town will slow him down. One can only hope.

  37. The Rose Group proposal is clearly not the better of the two. Those who might think otherwise should take the time to read the document to which Dan has provided a link. So why does Joseloff prefer the Rose Group proposal?

    • Good question, Emma. The answer may lie in a vewry big possible conflict of interest involved which we’re looking into. More to come on that score. This potential conflict doesn’t involve the Jewish Home for the Elderly, but rather another advisor/participant who was involved from the beginning and now stands to gain financially by the selection of the Rose Group. The plot sickens.

  38. John McCarthy

    Transparency in government, what a concept. Check out this TED talk by Clay Shirky “How the Internet will (one day) transform government” Best line: “What made them think they could get away with that? All of human history prior to now.”

    “The open-source world has learned to deal with a flood of new, oftentimes divergent, ideas using hosting services like GitHub — so why can’t governments? In this rousing talk Clay Shirky shows how democracies can take a lesson from the Internet, to be not just transparent but also to draw on the knowledge of all their citizens.”

  39. John McCarthy

    About time. almost 6 months after they were received by the BS committee, the town has finally posted the 3 received responses online…..happy reading

  40. John McCarthy

    It gets better…….Hey look, Rick Redniss was a part of the winning proposal. Does anyone know if he ever consulted to the town on this general topic prior to the RFP? Hmmmm…….

    • Bingo. You found the latest conflict of interest, John. Very good. Yes, from what I understand, Rick Redniss has been consulting and advising on the Baron’s South project all along. I’m told he wrote the P&Z text amendment for Baron’s as well, but I don’t know that for sure. Redniss was doing all this “free consulting” for the town, and many of us always wondered what the quid pro quo was going to be. And here it is. Redniss & Mead is part of the Rose Group team and the winning bid.

      How do you like the smell of that?!

  41. When you read these bids what becomes overwhelmingly clear is that the town of Westport should NOT be in the senior healthcare development business. It’s a complicated, risky game that is best left for professionals to take-on at a more appropriate location.

  42. Thanks to Westport Now (irony of ironies,) there are several articles about Rick Redniss’s involvement with senior housing on Baron’s South and part of Gordon’s Baron’s South “team” for years prior to the RFP. Mr. Redniss served on Gordon’s 2006 “Affordable Housing Summit Panel”; in 2008 he “helped develop the conceptual plan” for the Baron’s South project; and in 2011 he helped draft the Baron’s South text amendment application and was a presenter before the P&Z Commission promoting the senior housing project.

    Westport Now states that Mr. Redniss “donated his efforts to the project.” Gee, I guess he’s going to get paid for his services to the town after all, since he’s part of the winning bid. This whole thing really reeks.

  43. So, seriously, is this now a legal matter? Or, as some have suggested an allowable “play” within the system. And if it’s illegal, who comes in and sorts out this mess? The state attorney general? Sheriff Andy? Or, is it only illegal if money changes hands? Is it enough that it was clearly the intent of those involved to “reward” an insider who’s past efforts were clearly a scheme to set up a situation for his own financial benefit…aided, it would seem by our first selectman. I’m starting to think that there is no rule of law here whatsoever. Is there anyone out their with expertise to at least render an educated opinion about what happens now?

  44. Just when you think you’re too old to be appalled anymore, Gordon and his management skills make you feel young again.

  45. Gordon’s political allies should be made aware of the fact that they too will bear the burden of Gordon’s actions. It will be possible to sweep out of office those who abet his actions, and those who stand mute.

  46. Bart Shuldman

    Right from the Boards South Committee: The committee has great ‘faith’ that Jonathan-Rose can put together the complex financing deal.

    We have another proposal that should be also analyzed that does not have this complex financing needed, but this committee, behind closed doors, made the decision for ALL of us. And Westport residents got to see nothing of how this other bidder was create.

    In addition, the Barons South Committee is allowing tax credits that will need to part of this deal by both the state and federal government to be counted towards the value of the property. These credits, while helpful to the builder to do this complex finance deal, but does not give value to any Westporter with any tax revenue or payment in kind. How does that bring cash the town needs? Also, making matters worse, Barons South committee uses the tax credits given by State and Federal governments to prop up the value of this project to try and compare it favorably to a private property development. One like the Hillspoint proposal.

    Lastly, part of the value of the Jonathan-Rose deal is it only uses 4 acres of the property, ‘leaving the remaining acreage for potential other uses, including sale for single home property homes.” This would need P&Z changes if the rest of Baron’s South would get used for something else. This is the very reason they decided against the Hillspoint proposal, as that would need P&Z changes. The Barons South report then goes on to say we should only use the carrying cost of the 4 acres ONLY— to compare to the revenue stream of the bid. The town would still have the mortgage burden of the reaming 18 acres, including principal and interest, but the Jonathan Rose bid will not be compared to our full costs for Barons South.

    There is more to talk about this–more analysis–but thought you should know the bids are not pari-pasu. The analysis was done to treat the Jonathan Rose bid in a more favorable committee environment, and this committee should have presented both ‘real’ bids to the town for all of us to comment on.

    • You gotta hand it to them, these guys are pros. They saw this “undervalued asset” and a pansy for an owner (Westport) a long time ago. They worked for years behind the scenes (the pro bono consultant is now a bidder?) and have the experience and connections to finagle complicated tax breaks at the town’s expense and leave plenty of wiggle room for future raids.

      These guys are like the “Music man” they go from town to town fleecing the unsuspecting. If it’s not Sr. housing, it’s workforce housing, or lot-income development, etc. They win over a few point people, spread some disinformation about “solving problems” (by framing the discussion on their terms) and confound the average volunteer with complexity. Simple, really. And I’d guess there is more we’re still not seeing.

      Whaddya bet they have figured out the next “problem” they can solve for the town is developing the other 18 acres to plug the pension funding gap?

      We’re amateurs compared to these guys. They get paid a couple million dollars to plan and execute schemes like this, let’s not kid ourselves.

      • Shelbyville's Got One

        I can’t wait for our lovely new Monorail.

        • John McCarthy

          Cool, can’t wait.
          Believe it or not, I did sit through a consultant’s pitch in town hall that featured a trolley between downtown the train station. The guy didn’t sing though, so completely different than this situation. Hard to make this stuff up.

  47. John McCarthy

    Here is a link to memo from the BS committee sent yesterday to the Board of Finance…..

  48. What a load of poop.

  49. John McCarthy

    I agreed with 1 thing Ken Bernhard said tonight at the RTM: Keep an open mind…..

    If anyone can look at the details of the Rose proposal and the Hillspoint proposal and still say that the Rose proposal is the best thing for Westport, I would be shocked.

    RTM special meeting to discuss on October 29th. board of Finance tomorrow at 7. Read the documents, think critically about the process, and let your elected officials know what you think.

  50. It was all nicey-nicey at the RTM. BOF Mtg tomorrow. Special RTM session for BS on 10-29….Happy Halloween.

  51. I haven’t seen anyone ask the $60,000 question here: WHY is Senior Housing a foregone conclusion for “highest & best use” of the property ? Most folks seem to think it’s a stupid idea and offers a ridiculously limited opportunity for so few (and I have nothing against “SENIORS” – some of my best friends are SENIORs and I plan to be one some day !)

    Maybe Trump wants to buy it and build a luxury spa & resort… ?! That’s a Ha-ha, but has anyone asked him ? What if he (or another interest) would pay a fabulous sum for it ? (Someone mentioned $29 million above). And create something that would benefit the townspeople AND the tax rolls.

    Maybe the citizens of Westport should get a say in how our land is used…
    or sold… but not GIVEN away. How about a “Proposition” on the ballot, asking for us to VOTE on the issue, instead of the RULERS (aka elected few) foisting their decisions on the citizens of our fair town.

    Nah, “just shove it down their throats” (I can only imagine those words echoing at Town Hall).

  52. Politically, Mr. Steinberg is the canary in the coal mine. He’s the only Democrat on record supporting the BS fiasco who is running for reelection next month. Westport Democrats seem destined to fall on the developers sword. To bad – it was a good run while it lasted.

    • If Mr. Steinberg were removed from office, the rest of Joseloff’s allies might get the message, but then again, maybe they won’t, and they too will need to be removed.

    • Thanks for the heads up on this election cycle. I will vote Rubin for the 136th. I hate to make my vote a one-issue decision, but this is the biggest issue facing Westport in the 20 years that I have been here.

    • Good bye Mr Steinberg. Hello Steve Rubin !!

  53. Sent to Board of Finance:

    Hello BoFers,

    The proposal on the table is beyond stupid. Please figure out how to reject it completely.

    Pardon my brevity…you are all smart enough to see this for yourselves.

    Thanks for your service.

    Best personal regards,

  54. Thanks Tom…I sent my e-mail over the weekend (see previous post) and heard back immediately from three on the ball members, Kaner, Garten, and Collins who said they would pursue the issue with all due diligence.
    They were all careful to not telegraph to me their respective positions on the subject.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Please do not take any Finance members comments like you got as any indication of what they will do. We need as many to come out against this project. There is a tendency of the B of F, even though they were given a strong mandate to fix our finance issues, to back away if the audience is stacked with certain residents who don’t agree.

      • As indicated in previous posts my lovely wife and I plan on attending tonite’s meeting

        • Bart Shuldman

          I am out of town and cannot attend.

          Does anyone know if we can somehow get a referendum started to stop this project? What mechanism can the towns residents use other than try and attend meetings?

          • John McCarthy

            Referendums are only used when the RTM has voted for “the expenditure, for any specific single purpose, of $500,000 or more or the issue of any bonds by the Town.” This will not apply in this case as there will not be an expenditure of $500K or a bond needed for this. It is what it is. Get educated….Attend meetings, write letters and email to the BoF, talk to them at church or temple or starbucks or a Staples football game. That is how things are done.

            People that oppose the Rise Group bid will be cast by many as evildoers who want to see seniors cast onto the ice bergs off Cockenoe (poetic license)……It is important that this ridiculous notion be to put to rest and the voice of seniors who oppose this are heard. Remember, the Rose Group’s proposal cannot give preferential treatment to Westport seniors. If anyone says that this is incorrect, ask if they have received a legal opinion from someone that isn’t associated with Ira Bloom or Ken Bernhard’s law firms. My parents have lived in town for 40 years and are adamantly opposed to this as are many other seniors I have spoken to.

            • Bart Shuldman

              Ira Bloom will support Joseloff et al as he did during the petition hearings. He was clearly misleading during the review. I have done a lot of research and there is NO way to guarantee 100% to Westport residents. He was also misleading when it came to the asset test. I truly believe Ira will not be neutral in his approach to help Joseloff.

              Hopefully enough citizens will come out. Joseloff and Daniels will paint anyone disagreeing with this project as people who do not care about senior citizens. It could be nothing further from the truth.

              • Evidently there is a geat deal of pork to spread around. This project is not about seniors; it is about spoils.

  55. John McCarthy

    Just posted this on WN. Gordon is reviewing it for appropriateness……

    If this gets posted, I will be shocked as Gordon has made all my posts subject to censorship due to my past behavior of including links to Westport Patch articles in my postings.

    The Yankees played 162 games, all on television. Against 13 AL teams and a few NL teams. And the outcome was in doubt until the very last day of the season. Not sure Mr. Bernhard’s analogy is accurate.

    A Reset is needed.

  56. John McCarthy

    Here is another post that Gordon will probably not allow to be posted on WN.

    In addition, my comments last night were in line with a post I made on Dan’s blog

    “I want to be clear that I am not criticizing the volunteer members of the committee, who worked hard and were dedicated. I am criticizing that the committee was hand-picked by the 1st selectman to do a very specific task.”

    To repeat and amplify what I said last evening, I have never suggested or said or believe that any of the members of the committee, all volunteers, were making any financial gains from their decision or work on the committee. Such an assertion would be ludicrous. But the process was broken.