Branford First Selectman denies conflict of interest with landscaping company

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BRANFORD – A public document review reveals that the first Selectman has a long-term relationship with the owner of a landscaping company that has three-year contracts with the city for more than $ 120,000.

ACA Landscaping operates from a building owned by a company affiliated with Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove and his family, the First Selectman confirmed. The building is also home to Evergreen Landscape Supply, which is publicly owned by a company of which Cosgrove is the chief executive officer.

Cosgrove, a Republican, confirmed in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media Group that ACA Landscaping is renting space in a building owned by a company of which he is co-manager.

However, he denied that there was a conflict of interest.

He said ACA Landscaping was subcontracted by the city “almost a decade before I took office”.

“You went through a competitive process,” Cosgrove said of ACA.

City treasurer Kurt Shwanfelder, who served on the city council for 36 years, said he began investigating the relationship between ACA Landscaping and the first Selectman in October 2020.

Shwanfelder, a Democrat, said he asked, “‘Why do we have a salesman who is somehow linked to our first Selectman?'”

“That’s not what I think is a healthy situation,” said Shwanfelder.

ACA Landscaping’s official address on state records is for a residence on Beechwood Road in Branford, although the company appears to operate from 164 N. Main St., where a sign shows the company’s name and several campaign signs for Cosgrove’s re-election.

The building at 164 N. Main St. is also home to several other companies, including a paving company and Evergreen Landscape Supply, a company of which Cosgrove and his wife are directors.

However, on the ACA website, the address is listed as 11 Business Park Drive, while no signage is visible from the street and there is no indication of ACA Landscaping in front of the building. A sign in front of the industrial park indicates several companies, including a biomedical company and a construction company.

ACA’s business address is listed as a PO box in contracts with the city.

The building at 164 N. Main St., formerly owned by Cosgrove’s grandfather, is owned by Cosgrow LLC, of ​​which Cosgrove and several of his siblings are listed as clients.

As of June 2020, Vincent Cacace, director of ACA Landscaping, has also been listed as a director of that company in Evergreen’s records. In September 2020, Evergreen filed a “Preliminary Notice of Manager / Member Change” with the state saying Vincent Cacace is no longer a manager and there are two new executive members, Laurie Cacace and Nicole Cosgrove.

Evergreen was founded in June 2020 with Cosgrove and Vincent Cacace listed as chief executives in the business filings.

Cosgrove confirmed that Vincent Cacace was a former director of Evergreen Landscape Supply and his wife Laurie Cacace remains associated with Evergreen.

“This is a separate private company,” Cosgrove said of Evergreen. “This company has nothing to do with Branford City.”

Vincent and Laurie Cacace were unavailable for comment. Several calls to ACA Landscaping were not answered.

ACA Landscaping has a number of contracts with the city totaling $ 122,175.

These contracts include agreements to maintain urban green spaces for $ 49,500 over three years, public administration buildings for $ 18,450 over three years, $ 17,400 to maintain urban gardens for three years, and $ 14,100 to maintain Foote Park / Branford Point for three years .

The contracts also include three-year maintenance of Tisko Field and Damascus Cemetery, Branford East and Branford West, for a total of $ 22,725.

The current contracts, which were signed in 2018, run until 2021 and offer two extensions of one year until 2023 at an additional cost to the city.

Although Cosgrove confirmed a business relationship with Vincent and Laurie Cacace, he denied it was a conflict of interest.

“The relationship I have is in no way tied to any work being done for the City of Branford,” he said.

Branford Director of Recreation Alex Paluzzi confirmed that ACA received the contracts as the result of a public bidding process before Cosgrove was named the first Selectman in 2013.

“They’re probably the best prices we’ve ever received from a contractor,” Paluzzi said of ACA. “You’re doing a great job.”

Tom Brockett, Branford RTM minority leader and a rival candidate for the first electoral committee, said Cosgrove and Cacace’s relationship was against city rights and the code of ethics.

“If the facts are true, he should resign immediately today,” Brockett said. “That is unacceptable behavior.”

Branford town council states that “the first selectman may not be an officer, director, employee or shareholder in any person, corporation, association or partnership that is to rent, rent, sell or supply, directly or indirectly to the town of Branford.” any accessories, material or equipment of any kind. “

However, Cosgrove denied that his relationship with ACA and Vincent and Laurie Cacace violated city rights.

“I don’t think there’s a connection,” he said. “It was a public process. That is why we have competitive public tenders. “


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