NAUGATUCK — The endorsed Democratic candidate for mayor has criticized one of the most vital parts of his opponent’s campaign platform, calling it flawed and an exaggeration of fact.
On Monday, less than a week after Tamath Rossi won the Republican nomination for mayor in a three-way primary, Democrat N. Warren “Pete” Hess put out a news release that questioned her plan to transform the former Army National Guard Armory building on Rubber Avenue into a multipurpose community center.
Hess, an attorney who deals in land use issues, said a deed restriction on the property that calls for it to be used for education, parking or recreation would prohibit the building from being used for several of the purposes suggested in Rossi’s plan. The plan, which Rossi says will save between $5 million and $10 million, calls for those uses, but also calls for creating a permanent public safety emergency operations center, a possible emergency center and for use as a training facility space for public safety.
Hess also said Rossi’s proposal to sell the Park Department property for $541,360 is prohibited by a deed restriction imposed by Uniroyal that places numerous restrictions and that it is worth far less than she states. Plus, he says, there may be potential unknown environmental issues with the parcel that require further investigation.
Finally, Hess said Rossi’s plan “attempts to take credit for the actions and plans of others.”
“The Armory conveyance originated from a request from Mayor (Robert) Mezzo to state Sen. Joan V. Hartley, and it was Sen. Hartley who arranged for the conveyance to the borough with the assistance of our state legislators,” Hess said. “The Rossi campaign had no input into the acquisition of the Armory by the borough.”
Hours later, Rossi, the borough’s deputy mayor, penned with an aggressive response, calling Hess’ accusations false, questioning why he doesn’t trust assessor’s records and whether he even read her platform, before saying that Hess does not have an original platform of his own.
“It’s no surprise that a political opponent would take shots at my plan for Naugatuck,” she said. “Mr. Hess hasn’t put forward a plan for leadership, and now he’s falsely attacking my plan to fix Naugatuck.”
Rossi went on to question decisions made by Mezzo, a Democrat who isn’t involved in the race as he is not seeking a fourth term.
“Behind closed doors, Mayor Mezzo made an application to the state for the borough to acquire the Armory without sharing his decision with any of the borough board members, or the community impacted by his decision,” Rossi said. “This is exactly the type of decision-making that needs to stop in Naugatuck. I opposed it from the beginning.
“I think it’s the wrong plan and doesn’t consider all the potential this property can bear for our community,” she said. “I am, however, offering my own plan based on years of conversations with residents and community organizations who are looking for a fresh approach rather than more of the same.”