Joint boards back GDC purchase plan

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The General DataComm building in downtown Naugatuck. The borough is buying the property for $2 million and has settled on a lease-purchase agreement to finance the deal. –RA ARCHIVE
The General DataComm building in downtown Naugatuck. The borough is buying the property for $2 million and has settled on a lease-purchase agreement to finance the deal. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — The plan to purchase the General DataComm property through a lease purchase agreement was approved by the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses on Monday.

The borough voted to purchase of the property, which is approximately 10 acres in downtown Naugatuck and has a $2 million purchase price. The property will be bought through a 10 year lease with 3.25 percent fixed interest, which totals of $2,311,367 over the life of the lease.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted to enter into a contract with General DataComm in December. The meeting of the joint boards was to execute that contract.

The two boards met separately to vote on whether they wanted to move forward with the purchase before voting together.

Officials questioned the viability of the purchase and the future of the building.

Finance Board member Dan Sheridan raised concerns about the fact that General DataComm has not paid all of its taxes. He was concerned that, if the borough takes them on as tenants in the same building, they might not pay all of their rent either.

The company owes about $113,000 in taxes on machinery and other items in the building, which it is paying on a monthly plan. General DataComm also owes about $111,000, including interest, in real estate taxes from the bill due Jan. 1, which is expected to be paid at closing.

Mayor Robert Mezzo explained the borough has been working with General DataComm to help them make payments on their delinquent taxes. The payments on the taxes will be in addition to any rent that General DataComm pays.

Other officials were concerned that the building needs a lot of work, which could cost the town more money.

Mezzo said if the roof were to be replaced, the cost could be in the millions. However, to have the roof stabilized so no more damage could occur would only cost the borough approximately $30,000.

Borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said General DataComm would be renting the building as-is and could not ask the borough to fix something that was already broken when the property was bought.

Mezzo said that the purchase of this property would give the borough site control over the property, which is something they never had before.

“I think this is one of the most critical issues facing our town,” Burgess Ronald San Angelo said. “This is the whole center of downtown Naugatuck. … If we don’t get control of this now, it’s not going to come again anytime soon.”

Finance Board member Anthony Campbell said residents of the borough today have to deal with the choices that were made by the borough years ago.

“All of us who are taxpayers today are paying for the sins of the past,” Campbell said.

Mezzo said that it was important that when voting on an issue such as the future of the borough’s downtown, it be done in the least partisan climate possible.

“Communities that succeed, they do this, they put the most important issues outside of the political arena and they get it done,” Mezzo said.

The joint boards voted to approve the purchase of the property with only Sheridan voting against it.