Committee ends pursuit of homes

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Naugatuck officials are no longer considering purchasing up to five homes in front of the newly renovated Naugatuck High School on Rubber Avenue. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Naugatuck officials are no longer considering purchasing up to five homes in front of the newly renovated Naugatuck High School on Rubber Avenue. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — Officials have backed off plans to buy homes in front of Naugatuck High School less than a month after opening negotiations.

Burgess Robert Neth, chairman of the Naugatuck High School Renovation Committee, said during the Board of Mayor and Burgesses on May 5 that the committee has decided not to move forward with the plan based on feedback from legal counsel.

“The committee has now backed off with moving forward with the purchase of those properties because we didn’t like the outcome of some of the negotiations. That being said, we’re moving forward and looking at other things up at the high school that need to be addressed with the monies that we do have,” Neth said.

The committee had been looking at buying the homes at 507, 515, 521, 527 and 533 Rubber Ave. They are Cape Cod-style homes built in the 1940s.

The plan to purchase the homes came up two years ago as part of the $81 million high school renovation project. The project is expected to come in under budget between $1.8 million and $2.3 million. The committee sought to buy the homes in order to open up the front of the school and for more parking. The purchases would have been eligible for state reimbursement under the renovation project.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted in favor of entering into negotiations last month. Borough Attorney Ned Fitzpatrick opened negotiations with the homeowners on behalf of the borough.

Neth said the prices homeowners were seeking were too high. The homes are appraised between $62,920 and $74,650.

Even if officials liked the offers, the borough was unlikely to buy all five of the properties.

Evelyn Sawicki, who lives at 533 Rubber Ave., and Mary Roberts, who lives at 507 Rubber Ave., both spoke out against the possible sale during the board’s meeting in April. They said they had no intention of moving during that meeting.

Neth said the deal is off the table for the foreseeable future, though he doesn’t rule out the possibility of someone trying again in 10 or 15 years.

“It could be done in the future, but I think now is the proper time to do it because of the grant rebate,” Neth said.