Letter: Borough needs a town manager

To the editor,

What’s next for Naugatuck? Coca Cola will be leaving and while we are told that there is some other businesses coming in nothing has been stated definitively. Another large business on Spring Street is rumored to be leaving.

The Naugatuck VNA, as it is now known, will disappear before the end of the year. Mayor Bob Mezzo has said recently at a borough board meeting that he did not feel that the town should “be in the health care business.” He should be reminded that the VNA is not a business but a public service just like the fire, police and street departments.

Yet he claims no decision has been made regarding the Naugatuck VNA. He will be the one making suggestions to the board and it is doubtful that the suggestion will be anything other than getting rid of the NVNA. The staff has been told that they will be there until the end of September. At the rate things are going there will not be any patients left to treat. If the plan was to transfer that patient load to the South Central VNA there will be nothing left to transfer.

The Naugatuck VNA will join the ranks of businesses/services that have left town or failed. While some of this can be attributed to a sagging economy throughout our society, others have failed or are seriously struggling for other reasons — in this town for a lack of adequate parking for downtown businesses. This has been a problem for decades. Thus there are numerous vacant storefronts on Church Street.

The outlook for the borough is bleak at best. People are trying to sell their homes to get out of town and avoid the high taxes that are looming on the horizon, i.e. 11 mil increase. But let’s build/refurbish more schools while the vacant Prospect Street School is for sale or lease. And the Mayor and Board of Burgesses are entertaining the thought of moving some, if not all, of the departments at Town Hall to Hillside Middle School. While this structure can be accessed all three floors from the street level, (Ripley’s Believe It or Not!) there are stairs to negotiate and therefore it is not handicapped accessible.

What this town desperately needs is a town manager with a 25-year plan of development. Not a mayor and Board of Burgesses whose plan of development is five minutes down the road or one that changes every two years when a new administration is elected.

The current mayor has focused his energies on the school system. According to a recent newspaper article about the high school renovations, Principal Jan Saam stated, “We’re already seeing students have a little bounce in their step.” That’s a pretty pricey bounce — $80 million. Mayor Bob Mezzo has not brought new businesses to town nor has he been a friend to small businesses in town.

A solution could be to divert some of that school system money and spend it on building a parking ramp/garage downtown. “Build it and they will come.” As aforementioned, businesses downtown have complained for decades that there is not enough parking for customers.

Let’s focus on infusing life into a town that is dying quickly for lack of new businesses and a lack of an increase in the grand list. Why focus only on school population? If the school population declines because people are moving out of the borough, who will populate this newly refurbished high school?

Sharon Hebb

Naugatuck

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