New snafus stymie train station plan

Published on June 29, 2011 by

Fairfield’s long anticipated third train station in the Black Rock section of neighboring Bridgeport has hit some new snags, according to sources close to the project.

Located on 33 acres, with initial funding of $5.2 million from Wittek Development, $19.4 million bonded from the state, and $5 million from the town of Fairfield, the project has been in the works for years.

A number of businesses, including New York City- based HUB International Northeast Ltd., relocated to the area because of a promised direct train line to New York and New Haven, and the assurance of a new transportation center also prompted two new office buildings on Commerce Street and on Kings Highway to be constructed. Retail developers, too, had been hopeful of a re-gentrification of the dismal eastern section of town.

Unofficially dubbed the Fairfield Metro Center, both north- and southbound platforms, including a pedestrian crossover, is close to completion and crews are finishing up the main roadways in and out of the site. A drainage system has been installed and the ticket station is said to be under way.

Yet the center still lacks various tweaks and torques, a parking area and recent inspections have unearthed hazardous waste that must be cleaned up before the project can be deemed up to snuff.

And then there is the longstanding problem of the brownfields, which remain in need of remediation. In addition, graffiti tags on the platform walls are in full bloom.
There were three legs to the Metro Center stool: the project developer, the state of Connecticut and the town of Fairfield.

Developers halted construction when banks reneged following the economic meltdown and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson did not oblige financial institutions to grant loans to small businesses after the TARP bailout.

Former Gov. M. Jodi Rell had granted funding for site development, but now state officials have voiced dissatisfaction with the lack of parking spaces and want a new garage built, according to a source. The matter is presently in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s hands.

State Sen. John McKinney did not respond to the Fairfield County Independent’s request for an interview.

Now the town of Fairfield, responsible for cleanup of the site, has run into a $2 million shortfall and First Selectman Michael Tetreau is rumored to be planning on asking for money to be taken from the town surplus or for bonding at the next RTM meeting.

Tetreau did not return a phone call from the Fairfield County Independent.

But take heart—the Fairfield Metro Center is still scheduled to be up and running by November.