Mansfield Town Manager Matt Hart and other staff members will review a draft parking management agreement that will spell out how the Storrs Center parking garage is to be operated.
The management deal is between the town, Storrs Center Alliance (a subsidiary of Leyland Alliance, the project’s master developer) and its development partner, Education Realty Trust (EdR).
The Mansfield Town Council dissected the agreement at its regular meeting Monday (May 14).
The proposed agreement includes the public parking garage and shared facilities that serve both the garage and intermodal facilities for bicycles and buses.
All of the buildings are part of the $220 million Storrs Center multi-use development now under construction on Route 195 and Dog Lane, across from UConn’s south campus.
The garage is expected to be complete by this summer.
The agreement assumes the operator, Storrs Center Alliance (SCA), will assume management responsibilities for the parking facility, on-street parking and the Storrs Road/Route 195 parking for at least seven years.
Under the agreement, the SCA would collect revenues from the operation of the garage and use them to pay various expenses, such as routine maintenance, parking regulation enforcement, insurance, sales and use taxes payable to the state on parking revenues.
Mansfield Public Works Director Lon Hultgren said the agreement indicates the operator is responsible for “everyday maintenance” and the town is responsible for “major” issues that arise.
However, council member Meredith Lindsey said she is concerned about the “vagueness” of the language in the agreement, i.e. the difference between a “routine” repair and a “minor repair.”
“I think it’s very confusing,” said Lindsey.
Hart said staff will review the language and possibly add “additional specificity.”
Lindsey requested a list of what would be considered “minor” repairs and what would be considered “routine.”
Hultgren said it would be difficult to create a list including all instances. “It’s really a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Mansfield Mayor Betsy Paterson agreed. “Invariably, there will be something that isn’t on the list,” she said.
There also was discussion about a clause pertaining to mandatory arbitration between the involved parties. The draft agreement states, if there is a dispute and it cannot be resolved within 30 days after the initial mediation conference, there must be arbitration.
This will also be mandated if a party has waived its right to mediation.
The council asked Hart to have the town attorneys review this clause.
“Mediation is almost never going to be successful,” said Council member Paul Shapiro, who is a lawyer.
Town Attorney Dennis O’Brien said he doesn’t feel arbitration is a good idea either, but that was part of the negotiations.
Deputy Mayor Toni Moran, another lawyer, was on the other side of the coin.
“The advantage of arbitration is it’s a lot less expensive,” she said. “I’m not certain that you’d get any more certainty by going to court than you would through arbitration.”
Shapiro said one of the “weaknesses” of arbitration is parties “don’t have any right of judicial review if something goes wrong.”
The council also approved various other items related to the Storrs Center project, including authorizing Hart to grant Connecticut Light & Power a utility easement.
This is necessary because, even though the streets around the development will be town roads in the future, construction is not yet finished.
Electrical facilities will be installed while the roads are being built.
Councilors also authorized Hart to sign a quitclaim deed, which terminates a 1998 easement from the Fleet National Bank to the town along the southern edge of Dog Lane.
The council also granted a triangle of land to EdR from the current part of Dog Lane to construct the foundations for the new building in front of the parking garage.
This is necessary since the realignment of Dog Lane will not be completed beforehand.
Posted May 15, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan
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