Borough targets Cross Street for reconstruction

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The borough is eyeing major renovations to Cross Street including at the Y intersection of the street and Cotton Hollow Road. –LUKE MARSHALL
The borough is eyeing major renovations to Cross Street including at the Y intersection of the street and Cotton Hollow Road. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Cross Street could see some major renovations thanks in large part to state and federal grants.

The project is estimated to cost $5 million, Public Works Director Jim Stewart explained during a meeting of the Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and Finance Feb. 25, with government picking up 90 percent of the tab.

Stewart said the borough anticipates the federal government funding 80 percent of the project and the state paying for 10 percent. The borough’s cost is estimated at $515,000, which would be paid over the next four years through the capital projects budget.

Stewart pointed out that the cost estimate just to pave that road is $400,000 and there is a retaining wall at Cotton Hollow Road that is falling over, which is estimated at $180,000 to fix.

“It’s an expensive project, but it’s not expensive compared to what’s going to happen if that retaining wall falls over,” Stewart said.

The proposed work would include widening the road from its current 22 feet to 30 feet, building new curbs, installing a new drainage system and building sidewalks.

The renovations to the street would have an impact not only on commuters, but on the property owners along the street as well. The home at 10 Cotton Hollow Road, which is located at the intersection of Cotton Hollow Road and Cross Street, would be impacted the most.

“Basically (Cotton Hollow Road) comes out in a Y. What they want to do is to bring it around and bend it into a T, which is much safer,” Stewart said. “That’s going to impact that house.”

Due to the amount of land that the borough needs to use to make the adjustment, it might need to acquire the entire property, Stewart said.

According to the project summary report, in addition to 10 Cotton Hollow Road there are seven to nine additional partial property acquisitions that the borough would need to complete the renovations and the updating of the retaining wall.

Stewart said the borough might look into more than partial acquisitions of those properties.

“That retaining wall is in very bad shape. So, if you’ve got to rebuild it, it’s smart to look at how much it’s going to cost to rebuild the wall and how much the houses are worth. Does it make more sense to buy the houses and fill the area in, and you never have a wall again,” Stewart said.

Stewart did not have the addresses for those properties available. The borough has not had any official conversations with the property owners yet, Stewart said.

Mayor Robert Mezzo felt the work is necessary because Cross Street is the main road that connects Route 8 and New Haven Road.

“I think it’s critical for the development of that road that’s a very narrow way to get to a commercial thoroughfare. The only alternative is through a farm road in Beacon Falls,” Mezzo said.

Mezzo added another factor in doing this project is that Cross Street Intermediate School is being looked at for possible expansion.

Burgess Ronald San Angelo said the borough was on the top of the list to receive this grant in 1995 but the mayor at the time did not act on the opportunity. When he, San Angelo, was mayor, he tried to apply for that grant but the borough was no longer on the list.

Stewart said that, recently, the federal government began putting money towards the STP-Urban Program grant and asked for project submissions.

Currently, the project is broken into two phases, which are second and third on the list to receive the funding. Stewart explained that both the phases would be approved if Naugatuck were to receive the grant money.

San Angelo felt that it wouldn’t make any sense for the town to not take advantage of this project when the funding is there.

“When you get to the top of the list, you’ve got to take advantage of it. These opportunities don’t come around too much. We’re talking about 90 percent of it funded. These roads don’t get any cheaper to fix down the road,” San Angelo said.

Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi also voiced her support for the project.

“This is something that I think, it’s safe to say, has taken us 15 years to get back to the top of the list. It’s a pretty critical infrastructure project,” Rossi said.

Stewart explained that he did not need a vote at the time of the meeting, but wanted to get a sense of whether the project is one the borough would be interested in pursuing.

The joint boards gave its approval for Stewart to begin moving ahead with the project.

The next step will to bring it to a public information meeting, which will likely take place in April, Stewart said.

If the public meeting is favorable, the project needs approval from the Inlands Wetlands Commission, Planning Commission, Board of Mayor and Burgess and Finance Board before it can continue.