NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses has approved a memorandum of understanding with the Naugatuck Historical Society to officially sanction the society’s move to the Tuttle Building on Church Street.
The memorandum was approved at the board’s meeting this month.
“It’s in the simplest, most benign form of a memorandum of understanding, which is essentially a blessing from this board that this was the intention at the time, to move the Historical Society into the Tuttle Building,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said.
The historical society is currently located at the train station, 195 Water St. The Tuttle Building, 380 Church St., is currently the home of Naugatuck’s Board of Education. The school board’s central office will move into Naugatuck High School in December 2015 after the $81 million renovation project is completed.
Mezzo said the memorandum came up because of concerns expressed by society members.
“Part of the concern from [the historical society] is that there are plans for the future, but any new administration, new board could come in and those plans could go to the wayside,” Mezzo said.
Naugatuck Historical Society President Wendy Murphy said this week she hadn’t signed the memorandum yet, but expects to as long as it is similar to the draft she’s already reviewed.
Once the memorandum is in place, Murphy said, it will allow the historical society to seek out and apply for grants for repair work on the Tuttle Building. She said roof repairs are needed at the building, and an elevator is required to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In addition to grants the historical society can obtain, the borough has $940,000 in grant money it can use towards the demolition of Building 25, the hub of the former U.S. Rubber Company on Maple Street, and the preservation of the Tuttle Building.
Historic Preservation Officer Daniel Forrest signed off on the plan to demolish Building 25 in August and also gave permission for Naugatuck to use the $940,000, previously given to the borough for other projects, toward the demolition of Building 25 and preservation of the Tuttle Building.
“Once Building 25 is demolished there will be discussions about renovations to Tuttle and when the timetables would take place, and we would have to work out the terms of any lease there,” Mezzo said.
Murphy said the society is looking forward to moving into the Tuttle Building.
“I think it will be a fabulous move for us. The Tuttle Building is a beautiful historic building with lots of history, lots of street exposure, access to public transportation, in a traditional historical setting,” Murphy said.
As the society prepares for the move, the borough is actively seeking a buyer for the old train station. It has been put on the market by the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation.
Burgess Alex Olbrys questioned what would happen if the historical society had to vacate the train station before the Tuttle Building was ready.
“What happens if something happens at the railroad station and we have somebody who wants to go in there and buy it prior to the Board of Education leaving Tuttle? Do we have a place that we would put the historical society?” Olbrys asked.
Fire Chief Ken Hanks, who is also on the society’s Board of Directors, told the board the society does have a plan in case the train station is sold.
“We do have a contingency plan for the storage of most of the artifacts. We’ve been working with Ron Pugliese on the possibility of a storefront on Church Street to maintain an office. Those plans are in place,” Hanks said.
Murphy said that plan depends on the willingness of a store owner to let the historical society set up shop.
“We are hoping to find the goodwill of an empty store front owner to keep an office open so we can still conduct business easily,” Murphy said.