Former armory may soon be borough’s

The state is planning to transfer ownership of the former National Guard Armory on Rubber Avenue back to the borough. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
The state is planning to transfer ownership of the former National Guard Armory on Rubber Avenue back to the borough. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — More than 65 years after deeding property on Rubber Avenue to the state, the borough may soon get it back.

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 former National Guard Armory buildings sit on the property, which is adjacent to Naugatuck High School.

According to Mayor Robert Mezzo, the National Guard stopped using the site about five years ago and the building has sat vacant since. He said the borough has been discussing reclaiming that property for years, since the National Guard no longer uses it.

Mezzo said he reached out to state Sen. Joan Hartley (D-15) when the legislature was in session to discuss the possibility of having the state convey the land back to the borough, and was just in time to have it considered for this year.

The property is expected to be conveyed to the borough as part of the state’s annual real estate conveyance bill. The bill includes a provision that will transfer ownership. The only cost to the borough is administrative costs for making the conveyance, which is $500. The property is assessed at roughly $700,000.

The armory was on the agenda for the Board of Mayor and Burgesses’ meeting last week to be discussed in executive session. No action was taken at the meeting.

Mezzo said the borough wants information on the condition of the buildings on the property and whether there’s a need for environmental remediation before voting to accept the land.

“Right now [Department of Administrative Services] is contacting the military to see what information they have on it. We would want to know that information before we formally took title to it,” Mezzo said.

Mezzo said the board would likely put the environmental inspection and building inspection as a condition to any resolution regarding the property.

“They would want to know there’s a base level of diligence done and what we’re actually inheriting,” Mezzo said.

There are no definitive plans for property, yet. Mezzo said Naugatuck High School, which is undergoing a renovation project, can use more parking. He also pointed to the possibility of using the armory’s driveway as another driveway for the high school.

“Obviously that has to be researched. It’s a possibility, but we have to make sure there are proper traffic controls,” Mezzo said. “You have to determine what’s appropriate there. It’s certainly wide enough that it served the armory for ingress and egress for many years, so I would imagine there is a possibility we can have an in and out in that location as well.”

Mezzo said one of the buildings includes a gym with a full basketball court that could also potentially be used by the high school. However, the borough has to determine the condition of the building and property before even beginning to consider how to use it.

Mezzo said the borough was sad to see the National Guard leave the armory, but is happy to have an opportunity to reclaim the property.

“The armory was a strong institution and part of Naugatuck for decades. We were glad to have them here. They were always very involved in our civic events and veterans’ affairs. Certainly we are sad to see them go, but now that there is no longer a need for that facility we are glad to have it back and have an opportunity to use it for the benefit of Naugatuck,” Mezzo said.