Borough board authorizes deal for Lanxess land

An aerial view of the land owned by Lanxess, the borough is eyeing for an intermodal transportation hub. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The borough is closing in on a deal to buy nearly all of a roughly 88-acre parcel from Lanxess Corporation for the proposed “Port of Naugatuck.”

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses Sept. 3 unanimously approved a motion to authorize Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess to enter into an agreement with Lanxess, the successor of Chemtura Corp., to buy the land off Elm Street for a $1.

Officials didn’t release the agreement, which the board has been discussing in executive session, or discuss it in detail, since it had not been executed.

In a subsequent interview, Hess spoke about the proposal in broad terms. Under the proposed agreement, Lanxess would retain its facilities at 400 Elm St. and 12 Spencer St., and the borough would get the rest of the land.

The parcel that Lanxess plans on selling to the borough is about 80 acres, according to the corporation.

Hess said Lanxess would be responsible for environmental remediation of the land, which is the former Uniroyal site, per a consent order issued by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The company would only leave areas that could be remediated by capping them with a parking lot or building, Hess said. The borough would be responsible for capping these areas, Hess said, and local officials would work with state and federal officials and private partners to pay for the work.

Hess anticipated the agreement will be signed by the borough and Lanxess this month. Once it’s signed, there is a 180-day period during which the borough will do additional environmental testing to verify work done by Lanxess, he said.

The borough is eyeing the land to develop an intermodal transportation hub, dubbed the “Port of Naugatuck,” where goods can pass through customs and be loaded to and from trucks and trains. The site sits along the Pan Am Railways line that stretches from southern Connecticut to Canada. The borough is working state agencies and Pan Am Railways, and has had discussions with Nestle Waters, the bottled water division of the Nestle Group, and Maine businesses about being a part of the project.

Lanxess Corporation President and CEO Antonis Papadourakis said the corporation has been engaged with Hess and the borough since discussions of this project began several years ago. He anticipates moving forward with the agreement.

Papadourakis added the corporation supports the vision for Naugatuck, and the proposed Port of Naugatuck provides an opportunity to repurpose a facility for the benefit of the broader community.

“Lanxess is proud to be able to play a small part in the Port of Naugatuck project that could lead to a more efficient terminal process and may even attract additional jobs and economic opportunity for the region,” he said. “We look forward to working with the mayor and the borough on the agreement and collaborating on the next steps of making this a reality for the Naugatuck community.”

Local officials view the proposed project as a way to reinvent the borough, which has lost major industries over the years, and significantly grow the tax base.

“This is a necessary step in order for us to recapture the tax revenue that we lost when industry left Naugatuck,” Hess said about the proposed land deal and project.

The borough board soundly supports the proposal.

Burgess Carl Herb said the project will usher in a new era for Naugatuck.

“I’m excited for this and I think it’s going to be a catalyst for the borough of Naugatuck,” Burgess Jack DeOliveira said.