Board awards bids to demolish buildings

The former commercial building at 1 South Main St. in Naugatuck is among four buildings in the borough that will be demolished after the 2014-15 fiscal year begins. –RA ARCHIVE

The former commercial building at 1 South Main St. in Naugatuck is among four buildings in the borough that will be demolished after the 2014-15 fiscal year begins. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — Four blighted buildings in the borough are set to be razed soon.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses awarded bids Tuesday night to demolish the homes at 1 Orchard Terrace and 146 Walnut St., and the buildings at 58 Maple St. and 1 South Main St.

Cherry Hill Construction of North Branford was awarded a $98,000 contract to tear down the former commercial building at 58 Maple St., known as Building 25, as well as a $6,000 bid to raze the home on Orchard Terrace.

Ocean Trace Demolition of Watertown was awarded a $19,440 contract to tear down the house at 146 Walnut St.

A $42,900 bid from Weise Construction of Norwich to demolish the building on South Main Street was also approved. The decision to tear down the former commercial building near the corner of Maple Street proved to be the most contentious one.

Some took issue with the borough razing a building that is privately owned.

Former Finance Board member Matthew Katra told the board that he is uneasy with the borough spending taxpayer money to tear down a private building.

Burgess Michael Bronko contended what the borough is going to receive from demolishing the building outweighs what it has to spend.

“While I understand Matt’s concerns about using public funds to demolish a private building, considering the negotiations of the different things we will receive through taking that building down, I think it’s worth the expense of us going ahead and moving forward with it,” Bronko said.

Borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said the borough is in negotiations with the owner of the vacant building. He said the borough could receive up to 75 percent of the property to be used as a staging area for upcoming work on the Whittemore Bridge and ultimately as a continuation of Naugatuck’s Greenway.

Mayor Robert Mezzo added the look of the building negatively impacts the image of Naugatuck.

“I think that the appearance of the building in and of itself has a negative impact on the borough,” Mezzo said.

The contract was approved, 6-4, with burgesses Catherine Ernsky, Alex Olbrys, Laurie Jackson and Rocky Vitale voting against tearing the building down.

The money to tear down Building 25 will come from the state, Mezzo said, adding that the funds have been authorized by the state Bond Commission.

Building 25 was the former office hub of the U.S. Rubber Co. At one point, Naugatuck Historical Society members had donations and grants of more than $650,000 promised to them to restore the building. Most of that money was not in hand; the money that was in hand has either stayed with the historical society or has gone back to the donor.

The society then turned its focus to taking saving portions of the building, such as the archway. However, that has proved to be more difficult than originally thought, Mezzo said.

“The Historical Society is still trying to decide what is feasible to salvage and what is not. It’s looking like it’s harder and harder to salvage larger parts of the building,” Mezzo said.

The borough has already received approximately $22,000 in fines from the bank that owns the home at 1 Orchard Terrace to offset the demolition costs.

Mezzo said the borough will put a lien on the property at 146 Walnut St., which is owned by former Tax Collector and Burgess Lois Ackerman, to recoup the cost of the demolition.

Public Works Director Jim Stewart said the demolitions can not begin until the new budget goes into effect in July. He said the borough still needs to receive the insurance, bonds and contracts from the contractors set to do the work.

Stewart said the two residential properties could come down in the next month. The other two properties will take longer before they are demolished, Stewart said.

The Republican American contributed to this article.

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