The Town of West Hartford has started mowing the rights of way and is taking care of the ball fields, but is fining Ideanomics for violation of several zoning ordinances related to maintenance.
By Ronni Newton
The property that was formerly the UConn West Hartford campus, purchased by Ideanomics for $5.2 million in 2018 for the purpose of creating a global technology center called Fintech Village, is under contract to be sold to an unnamed entity but in the meantime the town manager, mayor, and members of the Town Council have received a barrage of complaints about the condition of the property, and many have also taken to social media to voice their concerns about the lack of maintenance.
At Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting, Town Manager Matt Hart confirmed that while the property at 1700 and 1800 Asylum Avenue is under contract, and is expected to close by the end of 2021, Ideanomics still retains ownership.
Ideanomics’ broker confirmed to We-Ha.com earlier this month that “the property is under contract and the sale process is still ongoing.”
“Ideanomics remains responsible for mowing and maintaining the property,” Hart said Tuesday.
The enforcement of zoning ordinances regarding housing and the maintenance of property are within the purview of the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, and Hart said that fines are being assessed against Ideanomics due to non-compliance.
“On June 16, the Health District issued a Ideanomics an initial citation for violations under Chapter 115 (for broken windows) and Chapter 105 (for high grass) for its property at 1800 Asylum,” Hart told We-Ha.com on Thursday, referring to the portion of the 58-acre parcel that contains the remaining buildings and is on the west side of the intersection of Trout Brook Drive and Asylum Avenue. “The District issued a subsequent citation on June 23 and will do so every business day until the conditions are abated,” Hart added.
“On June 23, the District began issuing Ideanomics a citation for violation of Chapter 115 (high grass) for its property at 1700 Asylum. The District will issue a separate citation each business day until the condition is abated.”
The fine is $79 per day, per violation, he said, and while that fine is relatively modest, it’s assessed every day until there is compliance. If the process is drawn out, further action can be sought in Superior Court, said Hart.
Hart said he is in regular contact with the local broker hired by Ideanomics to complete the sale of the property, and said he is “cautiously optimistic that they will hire a landscaping contractor soon.”
In the meantime, the town has started mowing the rights of way adjacent to the sidewalks and the edge of the roadway o Asylum Avenue and Trout Brook Drive, as well as the ball fields and playground areas. He said through the work of West Hartford’s Corporation Counsel’s Office, the lease on the ball field has been extended through the end of this calendar year.
“Given the community’s use of those fields, the extension was very important to us,” Hart said Tuesday.
“People assume the town can just mow,” Hart said at Tuesday night’s meeting, but that’s not true.
“The town does not mow private property,” he said, and while last year the town hired a landscaper and took over the maintenance of the property, it was part of a contract whereby the town had first right of refusal of any offer made on the property. That agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2020, and this spring Ideanomics entered into a contract to sell the entire property for $2.75 million.
“I realize how important this issue is to the Council and the community,” Hart said Tuesday. “I will keep you informed of the status of the condition of the property and our enforcement process.”
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