The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Windsor Locks voters approve tax break for sports complex !

WINDSOR LOCKS, CT.Voters on Wednesday backed a plan to create a Tax Increment Financing district in the area of the proposed All Sports Village complex at the east end of the Route 20 corridor.

The vote was 969-719.

The sports complex, initially pitched to residents last July, will bring $27 million in spending to the town within five years, according to a study commissioned by the developer and performed by consulting firm Sports Facilities Advisory.

First Selectman Christopher Kervick and developer Andrew Borgia, principal of JABS Sports Management, have made it clear that the deal would require the establishment of a TIF district, which would allow the town to deposit new property taxes collected from the business into a special fund and then use that money to subsidize the business and make infrastructure improvements to the surrounding area.

Kervick has said the arrangement wouldn’t hurt the town, as the tax money the town would rebate to the business would be new funds, and those who visit the sports complex — which is to include several amenities for young athletes and their families — would spend money locally.

Residents who’ve supported the complex at public hearings have argued that it is an opportunity for economic growth in town and would attract new residents.

But other residents raised a host of concerns about the TIF arrangement and the complex itself. Some oppose bringing in a business that is unable or unwilling to operate without such abatements, while others have said the complex would disturb neighbors and strain local resources.

The vote originally was to take place at a town meeting, but more than 300 residents signed a petition to force the referendum. Carl Schiessl, a former state senator who led that effort, also has raised concerns about contamination to the Waterworks Brook, a protected property neighboring the proposed site of the complex.

At Wednesday’s referendum, a majority of the almost 1,700 voters who came out supported the idea; several voters were still shuffling in and out of Town Hall only minutes before the polls closed.

After the vote, Kervick took to Windsor Locks Moving Forward, a Facebook page that he uses to communicate about various town issues, to comment on how the town would proceed.

“Many legitimate questions have been raised and we have to work together, within the framework of our land-use laws and the regulations of our local land use agencies to answer each of them,” he said. “We don’t know where that process will lead us, but we know that wherever it leads us we must get there with patience, mutual respect, and hard work.”

The town now must negotiate an agreement with JABS Sports Management as to what percentage of its tax money will be rebated each year. The agreement allows for a rebate of up to 90 percent, though the town could negotiate a lower number.

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