Expect the Unexpected

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You can’t fool Mother Nature


Roadway surrounding the Danbury Fair Mall is flooded and impassable. Not an uncommon occurrence after it rains. —Patricia Gay photo

Roadway surrounding the Danbury Fair Mall is flooded and impassable. Not an uncommon occurrence after it rains. —Patricia Gay photo

When I went to Macy’s at the Danbury Fair Mall last week, I would have been better off driving a DUKW (Duck) truck instead of my old Ford Taurus. The roadway surrounding the mall, as usual after heavy rain, was completely flooded and impassable.

As luck would have it though, there was one small opening into the mall parking lot at the Macy’s entrance, so cars could get to the stores if they maneuvered carefully through the lot and avoided the access road.

In my mind, I have a mental list of reasons as to why I try to avoid shopping at this mall. “Corruption flooding” is high on that list. But sometimes a gal needs what a gal needs and Macy’s is the only one around that has it.

I was awed by the vastness of the flooding last week, so I took a few shots of it on my cell phone (see slideshow). It had rained a bit heavily the night before, but nothing especially substantial or troublesome. No other areas had reported any flooding, and my basement was dry. But the mall, well that’s a different story.

The Danbury Fair Mall, in Danbury, Connecticut, off I-84, is the second largest mall in the state and fifth largest in New England. It was built by the Wilmorite Corporation and opened in 1986 amidst a huge bribery/extortion/corruption scandal that included Jimmy Dyer, the Mayor of Danbury.

Named after the much lamented country fair it replaced, the mall was built at breakneck speed. One would think that a major commercial development on 142 acres of city land would take years of red tape to build. But Wilmorite officials took care of the “boys downtown” by greasing their palms, and got the mall built quickly.

Among the red tape that Wilmorite avoided was properly obtaining those pesky land use and conservation approvals needed to develop property. I have been to many a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting and seen residents raked over the coals for wanting to add a small porch or a shed to their home and be denied because the structure would be “too close” to wetlands.

Wilmorite sailed through the process. They constructed an impervious paved roadway around the mall right next to a river that had a history of flooding. No protection. They filled in wetlands wherever they wanted, including areas containing quicksand. They intruded on the habitats of birds, salamanders, and other wildlife, with no concerns. Violations left and right were ignored by city officials. Get the job done, get the mall built. Wilmorite did a great job taking care of the “boys downtown.”

So despite the major scandal, and some guilty pleas, prison terms, fines, yada, yada, yada, the mall was built just as Wilmorite wanted. Now every time it rains, whether it’s something major like Superstorm Sandy or Irene, or just a minor downpour, the mall becomes a castle surrounded by a moat. A castle built by corruption.

But you can’t fool Mother Nature. Every time the mall roadway floods, she is exacting her revenge.

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