Tuesday morning, March 22. 10:30 a.m. The “upgraded” State Pier hosted its first vessels: a pair of 6-foot show boats.
A crew of 25 strong, mostly member of the press, were there to help offload the day’s cargo. West Indian smoke, China’s finest mirrors, hot air bottled in Denmark, and some foul smelling fertilizer.
Had there still been any salt at the pier I guess someone would have thrown it in the forced-out-of-work longshoreman’s wounds. There wasn’t so, instead insult was added to injury as they were turned away by security at the gateway.
Relegated with the other miscreants, longshoremen peered through a chain link fence as a pack of scabs worked the port they’d called home for nearly a hundred years.
In May 2019 the public was told the redevelopment of State Pier would cost $93 million and be completed in March 2022. As a direct result of poor planning, that price increased to $157 million.
On that Tuesday, Port Authority Chairman David Kooris’ attempted to change history and act like the increase was a result of the Port Authority being good neighbors. It’s just not true. The Port Authority’s $93 million design had ignored a blatant flaw that anyone with practical experience, or a set of ears would have foreseen.
The initial design would have interfered with Wronowski’s Cross Sound Ferry operation, a vital transportation asset used by roughly 2 million people a year.
In February 2020, on Kosta Diamantis’ judgement and word, the Connecticut taxpayer was obliged to cover all cost over runs. State Pier project costs might as well have been loaded onto Jeff Bezos’ rocket ship because they went to outer space: $235.5 million. Now that number has throttled to nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. It won’t be the last overrun. If inches were miles, I’d agree with the headline of CT Examiner Brendan Crowley’s recent (excellent) piece.
In it Kooris dishonestly states “At the very least, the pier will support jobs loading ships for Eversource and Ørsted’s three wind projects, which they have leased the pier to serve as a staging area for a cost of $2 million a year for 10 years,” the article reported. The last time I checked the sublease Kooris referenced is not signed. [Page 292- 347. Harbor Development Agreement by and among the Connecticut Port Authority, Gateway New London LLC, and North East Offshore LLC]
The project can go to minimal scope at any time that milestones are missed, right up till the bitter end. [Pages 405-407 of the same document.]
Lost in the excitement of the bulldozers and cranes, hard hats, safety glasses and Ned’s brand new sneakers was the fact that the State Pier deal is viscously unfair to the state’s taxpayer.
Kevin Blacker lives in the Noank section of Groton.