Klarides Says She Wasn’t Invited To Derby Meeting

Saying the “taking” of private property for public use “can be dicey and controversial,” House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, called for better communication between state and local officials regarding the Route 34 widening project.

In a prepared statement Friday, Klarides said a meeting earlier in the week during which the project was discussed in Derby City Hall did not include invites to her office or to officials from the state Department of Transportation.

The widening of Route 34 (Derby’s Main Street) from the Derby-Shelton bridge to the Route 8 entrance ramps is scheduled to start in 2017. The state is negotiating to buy a number of properties on the south side of the road where buildings will be torn down to make way for the expanded road.

The state is negotiating with the following property owners:

  • 176 Main Street Associates, LLC
  • Calco of Caroline St. LLC
  • Clark Development, LLC
  • 140 Main Street-Derby, LLC
  • Joseph F. Oliwa
  • 130 Main St. LLC.
  • Stefan Gebuza, et al
  • Belrose Projects, S.A.

Last month state officials estimated there will be another six to 11 partial acquisitions or easements needed. Click here for a previous story.

“The taking of private property for use as public lands can be dicey and controversial, as we have seen in numerous cases,” Klarides said in a prepared statement.

“While we have worked hard to avoid that in Derby in this particular instance, there are still unresolved issues ahead of us. Keeping the lines of communication open and including all parties, regardless of political affiliation, is essential to assuring the right outcome.”

The state lawmaker’s press release is embedded below:

Klarides Route 34 Release

Dugatto said Klarides misunderstood the nature of a discussion held Thursday in Derby City Hall. The mayor said it was an informal, general discussion of economic development.

“It was Derby-specific, basically our economic world down here,” she said. “It was just a sit-down, information gathering,” she said.

The meeting included state Sen. Joseph Crisco, D-Woodbridge, and state Rep. Linda Gentile, D-Ansonia, state Rep. Theresa Conroy, D-Seymour, and an official from the state’s Department of Economic Development Office, Dugatto said.

She did not explain why Klarides wasn’t included.

Note: The original version of this article said local business owners and residents were in attendance. The mayor said that was not accurate.

“We’re in contact with our commercial people. We’re just information gathering,” Dugatto said.

The mayor said she’s been hearing from residents who rent apartments on Main Street. They’re telling her that their rent checks now go to the state, part of the acquisition process.

“I just wanted to hear from them what the story is. That’s basically what I did,” Dugatto said.

The meeting was not listed on the city’s web-based calendar of events. Dugatto said it wasn’t a formal meeting.

She said Sue Cable, the city’s new interim chief of staff (and former Beacon Falls First Selectwoman), talked to a number business owners and residents prior to the meeting and relayed their info at the meeting.

The chief of staff position was included in the budget approved in July.

Dugatto said the Route 34 widening project, and the “taking” of private property, is being handled by the state, not her office.

In her statement, Klarides asked for better communication.

“I am not assigning blame or criticizing anyone. But we are uprooting lives and family businesses with this project and we have an obligation to those people to make sure everyone is fully aware of what is going on, at both the state and local level,” the Republican leader said.

The Route 34 widening project was discussed Monday on “Valley Navel Gazing,” the Valley Indy’s radio show on WNHH-LP 103.5 FM in New Haven.

Click the play button to listen. The Route 34 discussion starts 15 minutes into the broadcast.


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