Residents are outraged after the state spent millions of tax dollars to entice a major hedge fund to move, and now those plans have been scrapped and an eyesore has been left behind.
The Stamford boatyard is now just a shell of what it once was, after the state paid millions of dollars to tear it down, according to Stamford residents Randy Dinter and Maureen Boylan.
"Our goal is to get a boatyard back," Boylan said.
She and Dinter launched a grassroots group called "Save Our Boatyard" to push for help from the state. The site was supposed to be the future home of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund that manages more than $130 billion.
The company had told the state that it had outgrown its current headquarters in Westport, and Governor Dannel Malloy, and the state, offered Bridgewater Associates $115 million in incentives to move their headquarters to Stamford.
A spokesperson for the governor said it was necessary since the company was considering a move out of state. In exchange for those incentives, Bridgewater promised to create nearly 1,000 jobs.
However, Bridgewater recently backed out of the deal and decided it will stay in Westport, and Boylan said taxpayers are now out $16 million.
"Taxpayers should be absolutely furious," Boylan said, adding that before any agreement was signed between Bridgewater and the state, the Department of Economic and Community Development hired Building and Land Technology to clean up the area.
"I'm not disappointed. I'm angry. I'm downright ticked off," said Dinter.
A state spokesperson for the governor said the improvements were necessary, and contaminated soil was cleaned up, and metal bulkheads were replaced.
He also said no company could move to the boatyard area while it was contaminated, and while Bridgewater was a factor in its decision to clean up the place, it had to be done.
"We have no objection to Bridgewater coming, but Stamford has a 29 percent commercial vacancy rate. They could have gone into any of our buildings," Boylan said.
For the last two years, Dinter said, they now have a pile of dirt as the state figures out what to do with the property.
"It's a money pit now, basically," Dinter added.
Recently, the town of Westport's Planning and Zoning Commission voted to allow Bridgewater to renovate their building and expand by 10 percent. Whether that will be enough to keep them here, the company wouldn't say.
"After careful examination and reflection surrounding the challenges, time, energy, and resources needed to bring the proposed Stamford project to completion, we have decided not to proceed with the move... We are now exploring our other options," the company said in a statement.
Dinter said he thinks the state should have had something in writing from Bridgewater before spending $16 million.
Boylan said she thinks the taxpayers should decide what the state does with the land.
An interview scheduled with the Department of Economic and Community Development was canceled after Eyewitness News asked the governor for his thoughts on the matter.
A statement from the Governor's office partially read, "we will continue working with employers - both large and small - in our efforts to regain Connecticut's economic competitiveness."
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