Board votes to take armory

The former National Guard Armory on Rubber Avenue. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
The former National Guard Armory on Rubber Avenue. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — The borough is set to take ownership of the former armory on Rubber Avenue by the end of the year.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess to sign all documents regarding the transfer of the property.

The borough conveyed the 3.5-acre parcel at 607 Rubber Ave. to the state in November 1949 to be used to house a branch of the U.S. Army National Guard. Two buildings sit on the property, which is adjacent to Naugatuck High School.

The property would be conveyed to the borough as part of the state’s annual real estate conveyance bill. The only cost to the borough is administrative costs for making the conveyance, which is about $500. The property is assessed at roughly $700,000.

Hess said the state has indicated that it would like to convey the building by the end of the year.

Whether the borough takes ownership of the building will depend on an environmental report.

Borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said the report is expected within the next couple weeks. He said the borough would only accept the property provided the appropriate certifications are done and it’s comfortable with the environmental analysis of the property.

According to Fitzpatrick the state has to continue to test the wells on the property for the next year and show that any chemicals present fall within ranges considered safe by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The state will pay for the testing and the remediation is any problems are found with the wells, he said.

The property is limited to recreational, educational or parking usages.

“As of now those are the terms under which we would acquire this property,” Hess said.

The parking at the property can be used immediately once the borough obtains it, Fitzpatrick said. A pathway could be created from the property to Naugatuck High School to help alleviate parking issues at the school.

Burgess Rocky Vitale questioned what, if any, work needs to be done to the former armory building.

“Do we know we can use it? In other words, are we going to buy it and is it just going to sit there,” Vitale asked. “Do we know if it is going to be useful to us?”

Fitzpatrick said some renovations are needed and the borough is still looking into what exactly needs to be done. The borough has not had a physical inspection done on the property, yet, he said.

Public Works Director James Stewart, who has toured the building, said it looked sound but needed some work to bring it up to current standards.

“Structurally the building looks fine,” Stewart said. “You are not going to put offices and school children in there right away. You need new floors and paint and possibly windows, but I don’t see there are any significant structural problems.”

Hess said the borough will have an inspection completed before he signs any of the paperwork. Barring a significant problem, he doesn’t expect the inspection to deter the borough from taking ownership of the property.

Fitzpatrick said the building would be an asset to the borough, even though there is work that needs to be done.

“I think the property has terrific possibilities,” Fitzpatrick said. “Assuming the environmental report is fine, I think the sky’s the limit.”