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Living by the Naugatuck River and Downtown: Torrington seeks development as apartment rates stay unchanged

By Esteban L. Hernandez, Register Citizen
TORRINGTON >> A building on Main Street in downtown houses eight residential units with balconies overlooking the Naugatuck River.



Torrington eyesore's days numbered

Torrington eyesore's days numbered By Alec Johnson/Republican-American

Nidec Building on the Naugatuck River Torrington
Former Nidec factory could come down in September (Photo: Alec Johnson/Wtby Rep Am)

TORRINGTON -- One of the last of the hulking former factories along the Naugatuck River downtown could be gone by winter.

A vacant factory and warehouse that was part of the sprawling Torrington Manufacturing Co. on Franklin Drive, but is known more for its most recent owner Nidec Corp., is slated to be demolished in September, city officials said Monday.

The potential for demolition on the brownfield property, which is contiguous to a Franklin Street lot now being turned into public parking by the city, excites Mayor Elinor C. Carbone and Erin Wilson, economic development coordinator, as it could lead to redevelopment along the river.

In grants and early plans the mayor and Wilson have called it the Riverfront Recapture Project.

Wilson on Monday applied for a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development to pay for environmental studies to determine the extent of contamination on the 7-acre property. She hopes the owner will work with the city and federal Environmental Protection Agency to seek cleanup grants.

A Nidec spokesman did not return a call Monday.

The most recent contamination near the 130,000-square-foot building was discovered in 2012, when heating oil was found to be leaking into the Naugatuck River. A cleanup ensued, and ground wells on the southern end of the property continue to be monitored.

Long vacant, the building towers over the Naugatuck River as a daily reminder of urban blight; some of its windows are broken and peeling white paint leaves a patchwork of exposed red brick. A brown tarp flapping over a portion of the roof that caved in last winter can be seen from the East Albert Street bridge.

"From everything I hear from our building department and zoning department, it really is just about ready to implode on itself," Carbone said.

Fire Marshal Timothy J. Tharau said there is no longer a fire suppression system in the building. Nidec Corp., which moved out in 1990, is finalizing a demolition permit, according to city records.

Brett Zuraitis, building official, said he has spoken with representatives of the owners and the state Department of Public Health about the demolition. Recent tenants, who appeared to have used a part of the building for storage, have been moved out.

Nidec last year paid $31,305 in property taxes on an assessment of $908,470.

Carbone said the building, directly across the river from Fuessenich Park, where the Torrington Titans play baseball, is iconic.

During a Titans game Friday, Carbone she noticed it then, knowing it may disappear.

"As I was looking at it I was thinking that, while it certainly isn't the most attractive view from the ballpark, it is classic landscape, part of the horizon," she said.

Wilson and Carbone want to capitalize on what has begun on the city-owned property next door. Now in the first phase of remediation at a cost of $670,000 and funded via an EPA revolving loan fund, the city is installing public parking and cleaning contamination left from its manufacturing days. Wilson said it is expected to cost an additional $1.8 million to clean that 2-acre property. The city has applied for a $1.8 million cleanup grant.

Wilson said she foresees 9 acres of mixed-use development on the riverfront and a trail connecting to the planned Naugatuck River Greenway, but reuse won't come quickly.

"It is going to take years for us to fully redevelop those sites," she said. "It is not going to happen overnight. It is going to take time, it is going to take city investment, it is going to take grants."

The riverfront property, once valued because the river was an energy source, could be attractive for redevelopment. "The future tax revenue that we can get from those sites would be astronomical," Wilson said.

"It is no longer going to be an unsightly view from Fuessenich Park," she said. "There is a lot of potential."



Derby, EPA reach cleanup-debt deal

DERBY -- The Board of Aldermen took steps this week to settle a debt with the federal Environmental Protection Agency over the expense of cleaning up the toxic mess at the recreation area known as O'Sullivan's Island.

Under the plan, which must be formally approved by both parties, the city would pay the EPA $675,000. This is a fraction of the estimated $4.6 million the EPA spent on the cleanup.

The city, in cooperation with the Valley Council of Governments, has also...



New Rotary ornament features "The Falls"

New Rotary ornament features ‘The Falls’
By Donald Eng on June 19, 2014

The Seymour Oxford Rotary Club has designed and made available their second annual ornament in the “Seymour Ornament Series.”

The Falls at Tingue Dam is featured on the 2014 Rotary ornament.
The 2014 limited edition ceramic ornament features “The Falls”, originally called Rimmon Falls. A partial man-made dam had been added to the falls before David Humphreys purchased the property in 1804. Humphreys cut a channel in the man-made part of the dam for his woolen mill. In 1850 Raymond French constructed the present dam (it was called Center Dam) for the Humphreysville Copper Company. The name of the company was later changed to New Haven Copper. Other companies took advantage of using the Center Dam for power, including Eagle Silk Mills, Kalmira Mills and by the 1880′s Tingue Mill, all built on the same site. Today it is commonly called Tingue Dam.

Ornaments are 2.5 inches in diameter and feature “The Falls” and the year 2014 hand-painted in color on the front side. The back of the ornament has been left blank for your own custom inscription which can be done with a felt pen.

Cost is $20 each and includes hanging ribbon and gift box and description of “The Falls.” The ornaments are hand-made, decorated and boxed in the USA.

Purchase the ornaments at the Naugatuck Valley Health District Office (lower level, side entrance), 98 Bank Street, Seymour or contact Joyce Barcley,jmb167@gmail.com or call 203 881 0901 for pick up or deliver arrangements.



Rivers Alliance of CT needs your support

One of the Naugatuck River's most important group's advocating on its behalf is Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.
Please consider supporting them at the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Seaport June 27-29
Help support the good works of Rivers Alliance and your own passion for the water at the Mystic Seaport Wooden Boat Show! Rivers Alliance will be exhibiting and selling a beautiful, hand-crafted wooden Rangeley row boat, built and given to Rivers Alliance by generous donor and longtime member Geoffrey Meissner. The proceeds from the sale will go directly to Rivers Alliance’s mission. Come enjoy a day at the Seaport, browse exquisite wooden boats, and support Rivers Alliance throughout the weekend on June 27, 28, and 29 from 9am to 5pm each day. Be sure to pass on the news to your boat-loving friends! Want to see how he built it? He posted pictures of the whole process at https://picasaweb.google.com/GeoffMeissner/Rangeley#



Seymour to name fish bypass after late First Selectman Paul Pawlak, Sr.

By Jean Falbo-Sosnovich, The New Haven Register

SEYMOUR >> The late, former First Selectman Paul Pawlak, Sr. left a lasting legacy on both the local and state level, and was “an environmentalist before it was in fashion.”

That’s what one of Pawlak’s sons, Joe Pawlak, 71, of Watertown, told the Board of Selectmen this week.

Joe Pawlak, along with several other town officials and residents, passionately spoke in support of the town naming the fish bypass, currently under construction downtown, after Pawlak, Sr., which the selectmen unanimously voted in favor of. The suggestion was initiated by Selectwoman Karen Stanek.

“My dad had nothing more than a high school education, but the things he did for the Valley, the state and beyond were amazing,” Joe Pawlak said, fighting back tears. “We have to him to thank for the clean water in our river. As a kid, it was almost a joke to figure out what color the Naugatuck River would be on any given day…and today it’s used for recreation, and it supports waterfowl and wildlife.”



Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti unveils plans to revitalize Olson Drive

By Patricia Villers, New Haven Register
ANSONIA >> Mayor David S. Cassetti Thursday unveiled his vision for revitalizing Olson Drive by building a public safety center, mixed affordable-housing units and a community center.

The public safety center would house police and fire department headquarters. Small retail also is included in the plan...

Economic Development Director Sheila O’Malley sees the plan as “a win-win” for Ansonia. She said it’s incumbent upon small cities like Ansonia that have limited space to “make the best possible use of what is available.”

said the city has an opportunity “to create a well-balanced redevelopment parcel” on Olson Drive.

Police Chief Kevin Hale said he was in favor of “the launch of Phase I and of a feasibility study.” He said law enforcement has seen the tragedies on Olson Drive first-hand. “The concept would be beneficial to the community and to the police department to be near downtown,” Hale said.

Olson Drive is across the Naugatuck River from East Main Street.



Derby aldermen OK extension on talks with EPA over O’Sullivan’s Island

Derby aldermen OK extension on talks with EPA over O’Sullivan’s Island
By Patricia Villers, New Haven Register

DERBY >> The Board of Aldermen this week authorized Mayor Anita Dugatto to enter into an agreement to extend the time needed to negotiate with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA said in 2010 it intended to file a lawsuit against the city for nearly $4 million in costs incurred during previous cleanup work at O’Sullivan’s Island.

The land actually is a peninsula at the confluence of the Naugatuck and Housatonic rivers. It has been a Brownfields site for many years. Derby is part of the Regional Brownfelds Partnership.



Derby officials cheer success of town’s first ‘Ecofest’

By Patricia Villers, New Haven Register
POSTED: 05/17/14,
DERBY >> The city’s Ecofest Saturday featured lots of information on how to live a greener lifestyle, a ‘trashformation contest,’ live music and fun for all ages.

The Cultural Commission sponsored the event on lower Caroline Street adjacent to the Derby Greenway. Commission chairwoman Laura Brezina said the goal was to raise awareness about respecting the environment.

Brezina said the event is modeled after ‘Hands Across the Sand,’ an annual worldwide initiative on May 17. She said it was started by a Florida man in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

State Rep. Linda M. Gentile, D-Ansonia, chairwoman of the Environment Committee, spoke about legislation passed during the last session.

Mayor Anita Dugatto said she was pleased with the turnout. “It’s our first one, and it’s a success,” she said. “It’s a great day today.” 

Grace Kirk of A Place Called Hope with an American Kestrel at EcoFest 2014



2,000 parade through downtown Waterbury and 10,000 enjoy the Gathering in Library Park

The City of Waterbury held at citywide celebration Saturday, May18, honoring the many cultures and heritages that call the city home. The city sponsored event, known as "The Gathering," included a parade of over 2,000 people through downtown Waterbury and a festival of food and entertainment at Library Park.


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Special thanks to our sponsors:
Naugatuck Savings Bank, Connecticut Community Foundation
Union Savings Bank, Wesson Energy, Inc., The United Illumination Company, Friends of Naugatuck River
The Platt Brothers & Company, Thomaston Savings Bank, Valley Community Foundation