The battle between New London, Connecticut and the residents of its Fort Trumbull neighborhood began in 1998 when the City decided that it would redevelop the area for ultimate ownership by others and, if necessary, take the residents' properties for that "public purpose" -- not for "public use" (i.e., roads, bridges, schools, etc.), as the Fifth Amendment clearly intended.
Susette Kelo and other Fort Trumbull residents pushed back and sued to try to stop the city's plans. Ultimately, the Supreme Court rendered its 5-4 decision in Kelo v. New London in June 2005, erroneously (as the Founders would almost certainly have seen it) siding with the city.
In July 2006, after intervention by Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell prevented the City from carrying out its declared intent to forcibly remove final holdouts Kelo and the Cristofaros if necessary, the city and the holdouts settled.
More than 2-1/2 years after the settlement, 3-1/2 years after the Supremes' decision, and 11 years after the city's initial plans, oh boy -- a new tenant has finally moved into the Fort Trumbull Neighborhood. It's a government tenant (link at New London Day will be available for about a week), and the move is into an existing building:
Three Coast Guard units moved into a renovated office building in Fort Trumbull Friday, becoming the first tenants since the peninsula was cleared for economic development.
The move is "going to bring some life" to the peninsula and hopefully attract other tenants, said John Brooks, executive director of the New London Development Corp.
"There already has been some interest by other entities that would like to be at Fort Trumbull or be close to the Research & Development Center," he said.
..... The development plan for the Fort Trumbull area, drafted in 1998, calls for a mixed-use village that would include a hotel and housing. But the original master developer, Corcoran Jennison, couldn't obtain financing and the NLDC is now looking for another developer.
It's pretty bad when a public official tries to treat as spin a non-taxpaying entity's move into an existing office building in an otherwise abandoned area that used to contain perfectly functional taxpayers' homes as a significant, positive development.
Here is roughly how the area looks today, as you can see here from a Google Earth image:
The Coast Guard has moved into the building at the top (1 Chelsea Street).
The building that is just southwest of 1 Chelsea Street is that of the high-powered, politically-connected Italian Dramatic Club, which was disgracefully spared from the wrecking ball while whole city blocks of homes were obliterated.
As usual, the Day's coverage avoids mentioning what has apparently become a four-letter word in New London: Kelo.
As usual, the national press continues to ignore the ongoing non-developments in the wake of what some have called the worst Supreme Court decision since Roe v. Wade.
One of the commenters at the story had this to say in reaction:
The public should never forget what was permitted to happen there and any reference now to a positive outcome is a foolish mistake. New London will never be the same since officials allowed the push forward of such outrageous destruction of peoples homes and businesses. Furthermore, the glaring fact that our high court did not hold to the already existing determination that eminent domain was to only be used for the benefit of the public regarding large public projects (i.e. new major rail or road expansions, building of public schools, etc.) was horrible.
I don't think the commenter has to worry about a "positive outcome" for some time, except perhaps in one sense: The longer Fort Trumbull goes undeveloped, the more obvious the foolishness of the city's government and its officials becomes, and the more likely it is that someone in the national press will notice the travesty representing the real-world result of the Supreme Court's odious decision.
Author and investigative reporter Jeff Benedict has written a book, Little Pink House (HT Selfish Reasons), about the Kelo saga. The portion of his web site related to the book is here. Don't miss the must-see video promoting the book (also at YouTube) in the left frame. Part of the video includes a drive-through of what's left of the neighborhood. Warning: It might make you ill.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.