By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Juvenile crime reform dominated the discussion on Wednesday, April 13 when local legislators joined members of the borough’s business community to talk politics over eggs and sausage.
The Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Breakfast at the Crystal Room brought together state senators Joan V. Hartley, D-Waterbury, and state representatives, David K. Labriola, R-Oxford, and Rosa C. Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, to talk shop.
The problems and possible solution to the rise in juvenile crime was a hot topic.
Labriola, who sits on the judiciary committee, said the committee is still having an ongoing debate about juvenile crime.
“There really is no teeth in the current laws that we have regarding juvenile crime, these car thefts,” Labriola said.
“These juveniles know that they literally are not going to be punished no matter how many times they steal cars and this is unacceptable,” Labriola said.
Hartley said the problem starts at a young age regarding juvenile truancy.
“When you start to track the truancy very early in the school systems, you are putting the guardrails around those children who are going to at the end of the day be in these juvenile settings,” Hartley said.
Rebimbas, who also sits on the judiciary committee, said Waterbury had a statewide model for the children’s probate court and added it was phenomenal.
“Not only was it sometimes unfortunately irresponsible guardians and parents but early on you were also able to diagnosis these children who had mental illnesses that went undiagnosed and that’s why they couldn’t get up on time and go to school,” Rebimbas said.
“So it’s actually been a great success story in Waterbury that other probate courts are now looking at and hopefully being able to implement it.
The state Transfer Act and the train service were some other topics that were discussed.
The Transfer Act is the state’s property transfer law which regulates the transfer of certain polluted business operations and real properties. The law is designed to protect a property transferee by allowing the person to recover compensation from a transferor who doesn’t comply with this law according to the state website.
Hartley, who is co-chair of the commerce committee and on the appropriations committee, said Connecticut is only one of two states that have this type of law in the nation. About a dozen subcommittees are working in different lanes to revise the roughly 30-year-old law to a release base where, people would deal with hazardous releases when they have it.
Hartley said the current transfer act is costly and time consuming. The new law would make properties to be transferred more easily and not have properties inadvertently put in the transfer act that don’t belong.
“We get out-of-state investors and they’ll say Connecticut, Transfer Act, nope, not going there,” Hartley said.
Extending train service to the Naugatuck Valley hasn’t been forgotten by the state.
Rembibas said that the borough still has the state’s attention for the Metro-North’s Waterbury Branch Line.
The state Department of Transportation has allocated funding for the relocation of the Naugatuck train station from Water Street near The Station Restaurant to Parcel B, the vacant lot at the corner of Maple Street and Old Firehouse Road. The 7.75 acres of land is owned by the borough.
“We keep pushing for that,” Rembibas said.
Hartley said officials have the infrastructure in place to do two-way train service as well as the federal infrastructure bill being able to provide an opportunity for the additional build-outs.
“You’re talking about transit-oriented development,” Hartley said. “That’s really going to be a focus in the Valley.”