Borough seeks grant to help clear way for business to expand

NAUGATUCK — The borough is seeking grant funds to investigate and remediate a potentially contaminated property on Rubber Avenue to help a business possibly expand.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses last week authorized Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess to pursue a $25,000 brownfield remediation grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Ronald Pugliese, who sits on the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments Regional Brownfields Partnership, said the grant would be used to investigate whether the property at 251 Rubber Ave. is contaminated and do any remediation if needed.

The property, which is owned by Ramos Cecilia Paiva Trustee, is 0.79 acres and has a 3,285-square-foot building on it, according to the property card. The property is assessed at $166,250.

Pugliese said the owner of DaSilva’s Auto Body at 275 Rubber Ave. is interested in the property to expand the business.

“I am endorsing this. I think it is a great idea. As many of you know we are looking at different sites on Rubber Avenue. We are trying to expand some businesses there. We are adding some business,” Pugliese said. “That is one of the focuses that we have right now. This will open a space that is now vacant and expand a company next door with very little cost, if any, to the borough.”

In an interview after the meeting, John DaSilva, owner of DaSilva’s Auto Body, said the company is looking to expand its automotive services. He said the borough has a number of properties that are contaminated and need remediation due to its industrial history.

“Doing your due diligence is essential,” DaSilva said.

Not all of the burgesses were in favor of the plan, however, since the borough would be required to cover 10 percent, or $2,500, of the grant.

Burgesses Rocky Vitale, Dorothy Hoff and Donald Wisniewski voted against seeking the grant.

“Why are we paying to remediate someone else’s property,” Vitale said. “It’s not like we are adding the land to the tax rolls. It is on the tax rolls now.”

Although the current owner of the property is paying taxes, Pugliese said the building is sitting empty and the borough could collect more taxes on a property that is in use.

Pugliese pointed out that it is not uncommon for municipalities to seek brownfield remediation grants for municipal and privately-owned properties.

“Right now we are in line to get this particular grant. If we don’t apply for it or don’t go through with it, somebody else will get it,” Pugliese said.

Hoff said she was concerned that other businesses will come forward to ask the borough to pay for grants if the borough gets this grant.

“There might be other businesses that will do the same thing if they know the borough is going to pay $2,500 and get a grant,” Hoff said.

Vitale said he would like to see the borough approach DaSilva about paying the $2,500 share for the grant.

DaSilva said he would be open to discussing that with the borough.

“We would be happy to work with the board and moving forward to make the community better,” DaSilva said.