by Ray Bendici
Nov 16, 2012
11:50 AMUnsteady Habits
The other day, I wrote about the untenable financial situation that Connecticut currently finds itself in—staring at another huge deficit and yet having significant finanical obligations looming before us. In conclusion, I said, "Rather than be another member of the evergrowing chorus of those questioning how this all came to pass, I wish I had some answers or ideas on how to fix our financial mess."
Well, I've had a few days to think about it, during which Gov. Malloy has proclaimed that he doesn't plan on raising taxes to address the shortfall. To his credit, the governor is addressing the situation, cautioning, "We'll live within our means, which means we're going to need to make some painful choices and spending cuts."
Although that seems to be a logical, pragmatic, sensible and rational course to take, let me be the first to suggest the opposite—a yard sale! And this time, I think we need to sell some of the yard itself.
About a year ago, we ran an article by Tom Connor called "This Land is Your Land" in which he detailed many of the state's real estate assets, which in total represent about 8 percent of all the actual land that is Connecticut. In this portfolio are everything from state forests and parks to highways, bridges, public buildings and airports—a real smorgasbord.
Although there are lots of valuable and vital pieces of property in the state's possession, there are a few lesser—yet still valuable—places that we might be able to do without. I mean, I'm not a egomaniacal billionaire (yet), but if I had the money and Gillette Castle was on the market, I think I'd rather enjoy my own Gothic stone castle overlooking the Connecticut River. And surely there must be a Ted Turner or Rockefeller relative out there who might be interested in a modest 42-room Roman Renaissance Classical Revival-style mansion on 230 seaside acres. Possibly a fixer-upper opportunity for Martha Stewart to buy her way back into the state?
Then again, rather than selling, we can lease out a few a more resources, not unlike how the state has done with highway rest areas, where someone else manages the property and we get a cut of the action. For instance, are you telling me that someone like Disney wouldn't be interested in a partnership where they could turn unassuming Dinosaur State Park into a dynamic theme park—"Connecticut's Cretaceous Park"?! (Just don't clone the raptors—they tend to like the human flesh, which could be a possible hard sell.) The money-making opportunities are dino-tastic!
Or maybe rather than leasing or outright selling or assets, we could follow the path that numerous sports franchises have gone down—naming rights! I can see it now: "The Capitol One State Capitol," "Sleeping 'Jolly Green' Giant State Park," "The Church of Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area," "The Pro Poker Tour's Bluff Point State Park," "The Metamucil Old State House," or even "Heublein Tower at Talcott Mountain State Park as Presented by Viagara ...."
Hey look, we're in tough times, people. I'm just trying to help.