Fairfield, Conn., is targeting an Oct. 31 opening for its third Metro-North Railroad train station after the town passed a $7.5 million bond authorization to cover the costs of the long-delayed Fairfield Metro project marked by cost overruns.
The town expects to receive between $2 million and $3 million from Connecticut to cover completion of the parking lot and roadway at the 35-acre site. Another $1 million was budgeted for contingencies.
According to First Selectman Michael Tetreau, the town had to bond the full amount to get state reimbursement. Representative town meeting members recently approved the authorization by a 32-to-5 vote.
Fairfield chief fiscal officer Paul Hiller said the 1,400 parking spaces at the new station will help meet demand for Metro-North parking spaces.
“This will also get people off Interstate 95 that are headed to Stamford and Greenwich. Obviously there’s a demand for service into New York,” Hiller said.
Fairfield sits on Metro-North’s New Haven line.
The project began as a partnership among the town, state, and Blackrock Realty, which had plans to develop office, retail, and hotel space surrounding the lot, which sits between the Fairfield and Bridgeport train stations. The town’s other station is Southport, one stop south of Fairfield.
But the project stalled in 2007 amid permit and zoning problems and political bickering. It stopped dead in its tracks two years later when Blackrock was in foreclosure.
In 2010, mortgage holder TD Bank signed a new agreement. The state, meanwhile, granted Fairfield $19.1 million provided the town assumes cost overruns.
Blackrock settled with the town and ended its obligations with a $6 million payment.
Tetreau told town meeting members two weeks ago that failure to pass the bond resolution could force Fairfield to reimburse the state for its $19.1 million, plus another $2 million to builder Guerrera Construction Co. of Oxford. He said the town would monitor costs.
Town meeting member Liz Hoffman, who voted against the expenditure, said voting “in reactionary mode” has put the town on its heels.
“This project is in the best interest of the state and Blackrock Realty,” according to Hoffman. “We are giving up quality of life with increased traffic and unknown vendors.”
The opening would mark the first Metro-North station to open along the Connecticut shoreline in 50 years.
“Oct. 31 is a tentatively scheduled opening, a soft opening,” Hiller said.
Metro-North intends to issue new schedules that day. The sign on the platform now reads “Fairfield Metro,” but the town may change the name.
Town documents simply refer to the project as the “third train station.”