NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation took an evening to look back on the past year before turning its focus to the borough’s future.
“We have had a great year in 2017, and it is continuing. We opened new businesses in the industrial park and in other parts of town,” said Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Ron Pugliese during the NEDC’s annual meeting Nov. 9 at The Station Restaurant.
Pugliese pointed to The Station Restaurant, which opened earlier this year at the former train station building on Water Street, the construction of fuel cells at the borough’s wastewater treatment plant, and The Club fitness center opening up in the former Prospect Street School as examples of the borough’s successes over the last year.
Pugliese added that construction of a mixed-use building is set to begin on Parcel C, the long-vacant plot of land on the corner of Water and Maple streets.
“At the last couple of annual meetings you have heard me speak about Parcel C. This year we received all the approvals we need to get started. A large sign is up that says ‘Coming Soon,’” Pugliese said. “I am hopeful to see not only activity, but at least a foundation by year’s end, and when spring comes some real serious construction. It has taken a long time, but it will be worth the wait, when the project is completed.”
Pugliese said 2018 will bring more businesses and progress to Naugatuck. He said the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based metal fabrication business Kammetal Inc. plans to relocate to Naugatuck, bringing an estimated 60 jobs.
“I am very excited about an out of state company coming to not only Connecticut, but to Naugatuck,” Pugliese said.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess spoke of two large projects in the works that could shape Naugatuck’s future for years to come.
The borough is working on building an intermodal transportation hub on an 86.5 acre parcel of land along Elm Street that is owned by Lanxess, which was formally Chemtura. The plan also includes an inland port on the site, an area where goods coming from abroad could go through customs.
“Naugatuck is the only area on the rail with large enough land, former industrial sites, that are available for development that are close to the tri-state area,” Hess said. “The freight lines can’t go any closer to New York City than where we are now, which makes us the perfect area to have a transportation hub, warehousing, logistic companies, and the ability to expand our grand list. We happened to be very well positioned.”
Hess said the borough’s ability to move forward with plans for a transit-oriented development on parcels A and B, the former General DataComm building and adjacent parking lot downtown, is contingent on the state increasing the amount of train service on the Metro-North Railroad’s Waterbury line.
The state has set aside money for siding, which will allow two trains to pass on the same track, and for the proper signals. However, Hess said, the work hasn’t started on the line and there is still not enough money for additional train cars.
“You can’t have frequent train service without more train cars,” Hess said.
The borough is also working with Waterbury to develop a new industrial park on a 162-acre parcel of land at the end of Great Hill Road.
“The state has tried for years to get towns to work together, with little success and few instances of cooperation. [The state Department of Economic and Community Development] is involved and excited about the cooperation. We believe that this project can be successful,” Pugliese said.