Grant to aid port project

An aerial view of the 86.5-acre site, which is owned by Lanxess, the borough is eyeing for an intermodal transportation hub. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — A state grant will help the borough make the proposed Port of Naugatuck a reality.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development last month gave out $1 million in grants to six municipalities and organizations to support redevelopment of blighted properties. The grants represent the second round of funding from a recently launched brownfield revitalization program.

Naugatuck received $200,000 to put toward creating the Port of Naugatuck.

“It will be a great aid to help us plan, design and create the actual building plans for the Port of Naugatuck as well as the remainder of the site, which will consist of warehousing, a green energy project and other related uses,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said.

The Port of Naugatuck is a proposed inland port and intermodal transportation hub on the mostly-vacant 86.5 acre parcel of land along Elm Street that is owned by Lanxess, the successor of Chemtura Corp. The port would be used to transport consumer goods for warehousing and distribution. It would also allow international goods to go through customs in the borough.

The proposed site of the port sits along the Pan Am Railways line that stretches from southern Connecticut to Canada.

The borough is in talks with Lanxess about acquiring the property. Officials are working with Civil 1, Inc., an engineering company out of Woodbury, to create preliminary drawings for the port.

Hess said the drawings are still in preliminary stages and declined to discuss specifics of what exactly will go on the property or where it will be on the site.

“Right now we are in the heart of designing the project, which is why the grant that we received from the state is timely and helpful in our efforts to bring the port to fruition,” Hess said.

Hess said it would be difficult to guess how long it will take to go from designs to construction because there are a lot of moving parts with the project, including the topography of the land and the remediation of environmental issues on the property.

The property used to be the site of the former Uniroyal Inc. complex and, due to the nature of the work that went on at the company, the site is contaminated and considered a brownfield by the state.

Overall, Hess said, the state identified 75 areas of concern on the site. Some of the areas have been cleaned up and others will take more work. The remaining contaminated areas have to be removed or capped under a building or parking lot, he said.

“We have to balance the site so we can change the topography and spread the material in a way that works for site development as well as to meet the requirements of the [Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] of capping and covering,” Hess said.

Hess said the project will have positive impacts throughout the borough and beyond.

“There will be other uses in other parts of towns and in other towns that will supplement the project,” Hess said. “This includes additional warehousing and other businesses that will benefit from either a freight going north or for warehousing for distribution to the tristate area.”