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Contractors rally at capitol in support of former salt supplier, DRIVN Enterprises

They say Gateway Terminal now has a monopoly on salt out of their New Haven Terminal.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A former salt supplier is airing his grievances and calling out the state for what, he calls, unfair treatment. DRIVN Enterprises employees say they are on the brink of losing their livelihood after the new operators of the New London State Pier told them they had to leave. DRIVN Enterprises claims they were essentially driven out of business and no one will help them. They held a rally along with other private contractors at the Capitol to make their voices heard.

In 2019 the state awarded Gateway Terminal, already the operator of the New Haven Pier, the bid to operate the New London state pier and get it ready for the development of offshore wind energy. A longtime tenant of the New London Pier, DRIVN enterprises, says they were immediately told to liquidate their road salt and leave. "I don’t know how this is going to end for my company," said owner Steve Farrelly. "This is the first time in 21 years that I’m in negative cash flow. It’s not a good place to be...In the next 90 days I’m going to make a decision to lay off all my people and just liquidate my equipment."

The state attorney general's office didn’t respond to specific allegations made by DRIVN about a salt monopoly or alleged price gouging. But the AGs office did send a statement, that read, in part, “The Connecticut Port Authority is a quasi-public agency, and it is represented by private counsel. Any concerns about the Port Authority’s decisions about its operations should be addressed to the Port Authority.”

We reached out to the Connecticut Port Authority who said, “We are hopeful that DRVN is successful in securing an alternative southeastern Connecticut location for their business." And Gateway Terminal chimed in, saying, “DRVN had ample opportunity to pursue alternative locations in Eastern Connecticut and New Haven with Gateway’s assistance, but they were not interested in collaborating with us.”

In February, Port Authority Executive Director John Henshaw said, "We didn’t put them out of business. They could have certainly found another place to store their salt at any time in between when they knew they had to leave and now. They knew they had that opportunity but elected not to do that."

Landscapers and contractors stood in solidarity with Farrelly Monday. They say Gateway Terminal now has a monopoly on salt out of their New Haven Terminal. Mike Lenares, the owner of Lenares Landscaping said, "Imagine if there’s one grocery store in the state of Connecticut where you can go buy groceries. The lines would be out the door. That’s what’s happening. These guys are my witness, and they were there seven and eight hours to get one load of salt."

Gateway isn’t the only supplier of salt in the state. Morton and Champion also sell salt from the New Haven Terminal, but it’s that one distribution choke point that contractors say is resulting in long delays. "I was one of the guys who waited in line in New Haven for upwards of 10 hours for one load. I was turned away one day saying that they didn’t have enough material. We never had that issue before," remarked Peter Niro, the owner of All State Landscape Services.

DRIVN says they have nothing against the New London pier being used for wind energy development but says there’s no reason why it can’t serve both purposes.

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