Space at a premium at Naugatuck Town Hall

NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck Town Hall is quickly running out of an important commodity — space.

“It has been apparent to me for quite a number of years and more recently it is more of an issue. We don’t have enough space in the town hall to accommodate our existing offices,” said Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess as officials discussed the matter during the Oct. 2 Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting.

Town Hall, which was built in 1960, is just over 24,500 square feet and houses 13 departments across multiple offices.

The offices for the building inspector, probate court and finance department are running out of space the fastest, according to Hess.

Probate Court Clerk Wendy Murphy said the biggest need is space to store documents.

Murphy said court documents have to be stored in a vault or a locked fireproof cabinet outside of a vault according to state regulations. There is one vault in the court, a vault in the bottom floor that the department shares with other departments, and a single fireproof cabinet, she said.

“Our boxes in the downstairs vault are getting crushed by their own weight,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the state sets guidelines for how a court can go about destroying documents in order to free up space. However, she said, the guidelines take time to follow.

“There is a procedure for destroying them and at this point we don’t have the staff to do that part of the process,” Murphy said.

Building Inspector Bill Herzman said documents, like building permits, plans and maps, from his department are being stored in the hallway because there isn’t any more space in the office.

“We have nowhere else to go. Our map files are spilling out onto our desks and stacking on top of each other. We have architects and engineers come in and they don’t have a space to work. We sit with these people at our counters while people are spilling out into the hallways,” said Herzman, adding he does not expect the amount of documents to decrease anytime soon.

The long-term plan for borough facilities includes a proposal to convert Hillside Intermediate School and Salem Elementary School into a municipal government complex to replace Town Hall. However, the plan wouldn’t help in the short term.

Hess said something needs to be done in the interim to ensure the departments have enough room.

The board discussed a number of possibilities, including moving the probate court to the former Visiting Nurses Association building at 600 Rubber Ave. The building is owned by the borough and is the home of Naugatuck High School’s alternative education program, Genesis Academy.

Moving the probate court would open space for the building department, which is next door to the court, officials said.

The board took no action and plans to continue the discussion.