Fort Trumbull’s Mulligan

The Day‘s Kathleen Edgecomb brings us this story out of the nation’s eminent domain capital in which several of New London’s key players in the Fort Trumbull case, including former mayor Beth Sabilia and law director Thomas Londregan, say they now regret giving so much power to the New London Development Corporation, a body of unelected, and in the end, unaccountable individuals.

“Never, ever delegate the powers of eminent domain,” said Beth Sabilia, who was mayor more than three years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the city’s powers of eminent domain to take private property in the city’s Fort Trumbull neighborhood for economic development.

“We should have retained local control,” Attorney Thomas Londregan added.

Emily Dickinson wrote that “remorse is memory awake,” but frankly this seems more like “other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?” The fight over Fort Trumbull brutalized the residents of that neighborhood and fostered more ill will and more pain than the non-existent $70 million redevelopment project was worth, so pardon me if I find Tom Londregan and Beth Sabilia’s mea culpas too little too late.

The law was on the city’s side, which only made matters worse, and probably because of that, the people running the show lost sight of the fact that what they were doing would come at the cost of people’s homes. Having said that, I won’t abide the mute twit who started this whole thing, Susette Kelo, who declined to participate in the panel discussion, but gladly joined author Jeff Benedict for the book signing. You’ll never convince me that her only goal was keeping a home that she bought just a couple years before the development process began.

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One response to “Fort Trumbull’s Mulligan

  1. The Eminent Domain thing has always been tricky for me, because my brother’s and urban planner. I think that my brother’s point to me, while all this was going on, was that Eminent Domain is actually a really powerful and useful tool in rejuvenating and redeveloping cities that are in need of help. He’s involved in a pretty giant redevelopment plan in Norwalk, CT, and some Eminent Domain is being used, I think, to the community’s great benefit. General statement, of course, but I think city planners like my bro have the people’s best interests at heart.

    So while I think we can all agree that the Fort Trumbull thing was a total disaster from most angles, I’m not sure I would side with the home-owners any more than Pfizer etc. I agree that Sabilia et all have proved themselves permanent members of a big club of New London government people who were completely out of their league, but I also don’t quite buy the sentimental argument if fair prices for homes are being offered (and looking back from this screwy housing future….). I don’t know. It was a big mess, obviously.

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