Commission to review proposed land buy

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These are some of the houses on Rubber Avenue that the Borough of Naugatuck will consider purchasing to make a better entranceway and more parking spaces at Naugatuck High School. The borough has applied for state grant money for purchasing of the homes in its application to the state for reimbursement of the ongoing $81 million renovate-to-new high school project. –RA ARCHIVE
These are some of the houses on Rubber Avenue that the Borough of Naugatuck will consider purchasing to make a better entranceway and more parking spaces at Naugatuck High School as part of the ongoing $81 million renovate-to-new high school project. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — The proposed purchase of homes in front of Naugatuck High School took another step forward on Tuesday.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted in favor of sending the proposal to purchase four homes along Rubber Avenue to the Planning Commission for review.

Mayor Robert Mezzo said the motion was being made without any statement of support or recommendation from the board. Planning commissions must review any land purchases by a municipality under state statute.

The discussion on purchasing the properties has been going on for more than a year. Borough officials have said they have no plans to take the homes under eminent domain.
Currently three out of the four properties owners have indicated they would want to sell their homes. The fourth property owner has not yet indicated a desire to sell.

The borough is eyeing the homes in order to demolish them to add more parking spaces and enhance the entrance to the high school, which is currently undergoing an $81 million renovation project.

As it stands now, Naugatuck would pay $338,000 if it paid the full assessed value of the properties, plus more to raze the homes. That money would come out of contingency in the school construction budget. The project is expected to come in at or under budget, said Burgess Bob Neth, chairman of the high school construction committee.

While the board supported the motion, at least one resident isn’t pleased with the idea of purchasing the properties.

Mark Salomoni told the board that he was not completely in favor of the borough spending money to purchase the properties.

“I do know there is going to be a certain loss of income to the borough in tax revenue as well as a $300,000 hit to the taxpayers to pay for a portion of this,” Salomoni said.

Salomoni said he was told that the reason the houses were coming down was to make room for needed parking spaces at the high school. However, he was concerned that the borough was planning on purchasing the homes for aesthetic reasons.

Neth emphasized that sending the proposal for review is a procedure dictated by state statute and not an endorsement of the plan.

“This is simply a procedure that is required by law,” Neth said.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.