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NLDC Approves Name Change

New London Development Corporation members votes 20-16 in favor of renaming the organization to the Renaissance City Development Association

The is no more, at least when it comes to the name.

The NLDC membership voted 20-16 at its annual meeting on Thursday to change its name to the Renaissance City Development Association. The name change came at the recommendation of the organization’s board of directors.

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NLDC President Michael Joplin said Mayor Daryl Finizio recommended the change when Joplin and members of NLDC’s executive committee met with him in January. Joplin said the organization has also considered changing its name in the past, saying it has been “unfairly tarred and feathered” due to its role in the Kelo v. City of New London eminent domain case before the United States Supreme Court.

“Everyone in this room knows we’ve got baggage, and it’s spelled K-E-L-O,” said Joplin.

What’s in a name?

In January, Finizio—who but later in his mayoral campaign—announced that the but that it would remain a community-based not-for-profit organization. He coupled the announcement with an executive order declaring that the power of eminent domain will rest with the city rather than any organization or agency. This order also apologized to those negatively affected by the city's past use of eminent domain, said any use of eminent domain would be limited to property acquisition for public rather than private use, and that the city “shall strive to treat all private property within the city equally regarding its potential use for an economic development project regardless of any class or financial status of the owner(s)” in economic development.

Several members of the NLDC spoke in favor of a name change, but were hesitant to agree to the one offered by Finizio. NLDC member Stephen Percy said the term “Renaissance City” has been used by Norwich, and suggested that an ad hoc committee could review other possible names. Percy also defended the NLDC, saying it had worked to improve infrastructure at Fort Trumbull and that its actions were upheld by the courts at every level in the Kelo case.

“If there’d been a little more support from the media, we probably wouldn’t have this public relations fiasco that’s plagued the city for so long,” said Percy.

First Vice-President Karl-Erik Sternlof said sending the issue to a committee would require a special meeting of the full membership to act on a name change.

“We need to change the name to break the link to the past, on Google if nothing else,” said Sternlof.

Secretary Linda Mariani said she did not consider the name proposal her favorite one, but felt it was necessary to move the organization forward. She said she did not want to see progress at Fort Trumbull stalled as River Bank Construction of Westport proceeds with a plan to construct 99 townhouse units and one commercial building on four parcels at the peninsula.

“Let’s get something done,” she said. “Let’s change the name. Let’s move on.”

Other business

The organization also named the officers for the next year. Joplin and Sternlof were returned to their positions. Other officers are Second Vice-President John S. Johnson, Treasurer Ronald W. Nossek, Deputy Treasurer Nick Caplanson, Secretary Linda Mariani, and Assistant Secretary Andrew Russell.

Finizio announced in January that Joplin will resign at the end of the year and Mariani will take his place. Joplin said Thursday that he agreed to step down once he was confident that the organization is “healthy and accomplishing the task it has been assigned.” He said he could step down once there is significant progress on the townhouse project.

Robert Stillman, a principal with River Bank Construction, noted that the project has received and said he is working with City Planner Harry Smith to get the necessary building permits. Stillman said other developments include completion of civil engineering and landscaping plans, the hiring of a full-time estimator to evaluate costs, and work toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

“I can’t promise a specific date. I think it will be toward the end of this year,” Stillman said of the projected start of construction.

Frank McLaughlin, chairman of NLDC’s House New London program, said the program has been successful in rehabilitating residences around the city. He said this in turn helps revitalize neighborhoods and strengthen the city’s tax base.

“I get the greatest pleasure of taking junk and turning it into something that is usable,” he said.

Mayor Daryl Finizio, speaking at the beginning of the meeting, said his administration intends to form a new relationship with the organization.

“The closer we can work together, the better we can advance our entire community,” he said.

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Thomas Cornick April 27, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Isn't it funny that when listing all of the benefits of hosting Connecticut College one rarely hears the name Claire.
Michael Casteel April 27, 2012 at 03:47 PM
A skunk by any name stinks. The NLDC or Renaissance City Wreckers is a corrupt and evil organization dominated by people who do NOT live in New London. The comments by Stephen Percy reflect perfectly the attitude of the NLDC Board, not that the use of eminent domain was wrong, but that it is the fault of the media. Yeah, the truth hurts. Leaving Mr. Joplin in control is outrageous, his one investment in New London, the Crocker House, having gone into foreclosure. Another "successful" businessman helping New London...LMAO. I am wondering how much he is getting bribed by the Stillmans. The primary accomplishment of the NLDC is replacing a neighborhood of homeowners and local landlords with an apartment complex with out-of-town ownership that will likely be largely filled with subsidized renters. In my opinion the NLDC, it's attorneys and board members should be prosecuted for perjury and fraud. They lied to the Supreme Court of the United States when they claimed that the property taken by eminent domain would be put to a "higher use" that would yield more taxes, thus the specious claim of public good necessary to eminent domain. In fact, New London has granted a huge tax abatement to the developer of the RENTAL apartment complex. In addition to the NLDC giving them the land for free. Meanwhile the NLDC continues to hold huge tracts of property which are NOT paying taxes. Only in this epically incompetent city.
Barbara Crocker April 27, 2012 at 03:57 PM
I think you nailed it, Mr. Casteel...I like the way you think! Quoting from the 2nd link I posted: "New London severs ties with development authority October 18, 2005, 6:37 AM EDT NEW LONDON, Conn. — The city council has voted to sever ties with the quasi-public development authority at the center of a national debate over eminent domain powers. The council voted 6-0 Monday night to revoke the designation of the New London Development Corp. as the city's "implementing agency" for its Fort Trumbull development. The agency has guided the $73 million state-funded project since its inception in 1998. " So tell me, WHY is the NLDC still around?
Debbie April 27, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Will a name change help us forget what happened to the Fort Trumbull area? Just drive or walk by the now deserted areas and those memories will come flooding back screaming NLDC regardless of its new name RCDA the history and mission of this particular group will remain the same.
pat dobbs April 27, 2012 at 06:48 PM
“I get the greatest pleasure of taking junk and turning it into something that is usable,” he said. oh Frank, you mean like the neighborhood you bull dozed in an attempt to realize NLDC's grand vision, and ended up being a pile of shit. no, Frank, the NLDC takes something usable and turn it into junk. the NDLC is ran by horrible people. the communities they live in should treat them as such,

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