Metcalf Paving building sits empty, creditors lining up

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The company sign still hangs on the former Metcalf Paving headquarter building located at 65 Lancaster Drive in Beacon Falls. –RA ARCHIVE

BEACON FALLS — There’s not much left of The Metcalf Paving Co. Inc. Stop by the commercial and residential paving company’s former headquarters at 65 Lancaster Drive in the Pines Bridge Industrial Park and the building is dark and locked up tight.

A sign on the door warns visitors that the power has been shut off for nonpayment, the water has been shut off and drained from the pipes to prevent freezing, and the doors have been locked and sealed to prevent damage.

The damage, however, has already been done. After filing for bankruptcy court protection while attempting to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code in October 2009, the company saw its case converted to a Chapter 7 liquidation in February 2011, leaving creditors to fight over the remains and about two dozen employees out of work.

The case, which is still pending in federal bankruptcy court in New Haven, also has left some unanswered questions. Unfortunately, because the case is still pending, most of the parties involved refuse to comment.

Metcalf Paving’s owner, former Roxbury resident Jonathan Shea Metcalf, also could not be reached for comment.

One who was willing to discuss the case was Ira Charmoy, an attorney with the Bridgeport law firm Zeldes, Needle & Cooper, who represents the company in bankruptcy court.

It was Charmoy who stated after the Chapter 11 filing that Metcalf Paving had filed for bankruptcy in part because “dishonest actions” by its employees and the employees of an unnamed supplier created “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in debt.

In a statement e-mailed in October 2009, Charmoy said the bankruptcy filing “was caused by the dishonest actions of members of its staff, who have since been fired, working in collusion with the staff of one of Metcalf’s largest suppliers.”

In a recent telephone interview, however, Charmoy said no one was ever charged with a crime related to those accusations.

“No civil or criminal charges were filed,” he said. “We were trying to settle with the supplier, but it never got to that point. The fighting with the bank got too intense.”

Naugatuck Savings Bank was Metcalf Paving’s largest lender, holding a first mortgage of $1.62 million on the property at 65 Lancaster Drive, as well as an open-ended second mortgage for at least $80,000. Bank officials declined to comment on the case.

In its original petition for bankruptcy, Metcalf listed between 100 and 199 creditors, and both assets and liabilities of between $1 million and $10 million. Another of its largest creditors at the time was Tilcon CT Inc. of Hartford, which was owed more than $1.4 million, the documents showed.

The company also owed the state nearly $68,000 in unpaid sales-and-use taxes, as well as another nearly $5,700 in penalties, according to court documents. It also owed $18,763 to the town of Beacon Falls for personal property taxes on vehicles and equipment, the documents showed.

Tax officials in Beacon Falls, however, say Metcalf Paving actually owes in excess of $83,000 in taxes.

“We cannot go after any taxes until the bankruptcy is let go,” Beacon Falls’ tax collector Mildred Jurzynski said.

The company did propose a plan for paying its creditors. On Jan. 26, 2011, Metcalf filed an 11-page plan outlining how it would reorganize and pay off its debt, but the court never approved that plan.

Instead, on Feb. 25, 2011, the court approved a bankruptcy court trustee’s motion to convert the case to a Chapter 7 liquidation.

Tracy Hope Davis, the U.S. trustee for Region 2, had filed the motion in September 2010 seeking an order from Bankruptcy Court Judge Lorraine Murphy Weil to convert the case to Chapter 7. Davis filed the motion because Metcalf had not provided monthly operating reports for July and August of 2010, and failed to pay quarterly fees totaling about $4,880 for the second quarter of 2010. The motion noted the company would also owe additional fees for the third quarter of 2010 estimated at $4,875.

The conversion to chapter 7 means the court must determine how to divide up all the assets, including vehicles and equipment, to pay off creditors.

“The bank is fighting with the trustee over how money is supposed to be distributed,” Charmoy said, adding that “where that stands right now I don’t know, I’m not following it.”

Jane Limprecht, public information officer for the trustee’s office in Washington, D.C., would say only that the office does not “comment on pending cases.”

Charmoy also declined to say where Jonathan Metcalf is or what he is doing now, except to say he is “working somewhere” on what is “going to be an ongoing project.”

In addition to foreclosing on Metcalf Paving, Naugatuck Savings Bank also foreclosed on properties owned by Jonathan Metcalf and his wife in Roxbury, Southbury and Middlebury.

In 2006, Metcalf Paving and a related venture, JRD Properties, were cited by the state Department of Environmental Protection for violating several environmental laws by making asphalt at a facility on Jackson Street in Waterbury. The state determined the company was operating without proper permits, emitting formaldehyde and conducting asphalt plant activity in violation of state law.

At the time of the citations, Jonathan Metcalf disputed the findings, saying he was only recycling old asphalt. But Waterbury officials who visited the site said they saw the company making hot asphalt from recycled millings.

The state sought an injunction in September 2007 to halt activity at the facility, and filed a lawsuit against the company.

E. Gil Graveline, Waterbury’s building official, said recently that he hasn’t thought much about that Waterbury facility since it was shut down.

“I have not heard or seen anything on that since,” he said.

John Dwyer, owner of Not Just Trucking LLC, once leased space for his business from Metcalf at 65 Lancaster Drive. He sold the site to Metcalf in 2005, then signed a five-year lease for his company.

“I stayed for all five years, but when the lease was up I decided to leave,” Dwyer said. His business is now located on South Main Street in Waterbury.

“We didn’t renegotiate the lease because of the other financial issues, and then the bank got involved,” he said. “It was definitely the reason I moved.”

Dwyer said he has not spoken to Metcalf since relocating and did not have any other business dealings with him.

“I built that place,” he said of 65 Lancaster Drive. “I loved that place. But things change, and life goes on.”