Borough granted $50,000 for ground study

NAUGATUCK — The borough has received a $50,000 state grant to conduct a hazardous materials survey at the site of the Naugatuck train station on Water Street.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell informed state Senator Joseph J. Crisco Jr. (D-Woodbridge) earlier this month that the parcel, which is designated as a brownfield, will be granted funding in hopes that it will eventually be remediated.

The project was selected by the Department of Economic and Community Development as part of the Municipal Brownfield Pilot Program. The State Bond Commission gave final approval for the funding.

“The future vitality of downtown Naugatuck relies in part on our ability to revitalize abandoned or otherwise vacant property, and the train station parcel is integral to the vision we share for the Renaissance Place redevelopment,” Crisco said in a press release last week. “Likewise, the hazardous materials survey to be financed with this state grant is integral to the remediation of this particular parcel.”

Mayor Robert Mezzo echoed Crisco’s statements.

“I think the railroad station plays an important part in the Renaissance Place project,” he said. “We believe that building has commercial use and one day could be the home for some type of commercial establishment. It is owned by the borough and viewed as a great asset to us, but we have to do our diligence to determine any potential issues with the property.”

This grant should allow the borough to complete phase one and potentially allow them to complete phase two of the remediation plan, which includes researching the property as well as taking samples of the ground. The borough is not aware of any significant environmental issues at the site.

The building itself holds historical value and was built by Henry Bacon, the architect of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial. It has not functioned as an active railroad station for many years and currently houses the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation and the Naugatuck Historical Society.

One plan for the location has been to turn it into a restaurant something Crisco feels is an example of what should become commonplace and a contributor to the success of the borough and the Renaissance Place project.

“To me it makes so much more sense to ‘recycle’ business district parcels in this fashion rather than clear, level, and then pave a lot somewhere else outside of town, contributing to sprawl and additional use of cars and trucks,” Crisco said. “It’s gratifying to see this project begin to take shape after working on it for years — it’s another concrete step toward the future vitality of downtown Naugatuck.”