Naugatuck mayor predicts economic boom, discusses major projects at annual breakfast

Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren ‘Pete’ Hess talks to a crowd during the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce’s annual Mayoral Breakfast on Friday at the Crystal Room in Naugatuck. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess sees an economic boost in the near future for the borough.

That was the message Hess had for the audience during the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce’s annual Mayoral Breakfast Dec. 10 at the Crystal Room.

Hess spoke about five major projects planned for Naugatuck — the proposed “International Inland Port of Naugatuck,” a transit orientated development, an infrastructure project, the Rubber Avenue project and joint development between the borough and Waterbury near the line.

The proposed port project, would be built on mostly vacant land off Elm Street between the Naugatuck River and Cherry Street Extension. The project includes a 322,100-square-foot industrial or warehouse building, two pads for future industrial buildings planned to be about 162,000 square feet and 65,000 square feet, respectively, and associated parking.

The project also calls a railroad spur and a container yard between the train tracks on the site and the river as well as a 350-by-60-foot fuel cell pad.

The development will be built on roughly 86 acres of land owned by Lanxess Corporation, which is a successor to Uniroyal Chemical and has an agreement to sell the land. The borough plans to acquire the title to the site in February for $1, Hess said.

The complete development can come to fruition if the borough is able to strike a deal with a class one rail road such as Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. A person can move from Naugatuck to Montreal, Canada through a freight train. Borough officials are waiting for U.S. Surface Transportation Board to make regulations according to Hess.

An inland port takes pressure off sea ports as people are seeing congestion now in sea ports, Hess said.

“An international inland port will generate new business throughout Naugatuck, Waterbury, anything on Route 8, central Connecticut,” Hess said. “It’s a huge thing so everyone is in but we have to have a deal with a class one railroad.”

The worst case scenario for the project would call for an industrial park with four or five separate areas, Hess said.

The transit orientated development on Parcels A and B, the Naugatuck Event Center and the vacant lot at the corner of Maple Street and Old Firehouse Road, known locally as Parcel B, would be a mix of residential and commercial that would bring vibrancy to downtown. Borough officials are sending out a request for proposal in January to seek a developer, Hess said.

Borough officials will start to tackle the parking issue downtown before finishing construction on Parcel B. Officials are also extending the greenway from the Maple Street Bridge all the way to Breen Field, Hess said.

“We’re going to have a pedestrian bridge from the greenway to downtown which will connect the other side of the river to the downtown area and enable us even more people and have more vibrancy,” Hess said.

Along with walkways, Hess said the borough is going to tackle any infrastructure issues including storm water sanitary sewers and roads. The borough will use half of its $9.2 million American Rescue Plan, it has received for infrastructure.

The borough has previously received a $6.5 million Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program grant to enhance Rubber Avenue.

Hess said it will be more than just new pavement and crosswalks but streetscape and a roundabout as well as another brook walk trail from Thurston’s Pond Dam along the brook to downtown.

Also, I’m sure you all know about Rubber Ave. We got $6.5 million Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program grant to enhance Rubber Avenue. It’s going to be a lot more than just new pavement and nice crosswalks. It’s going to be streetscape, trees. We’re creating another brook walk trail that’s going to go from Thurston’s Dam all along the brook right downtown.

Hess said the borough is looking for a strong business to locate to the former recycling center and a local lumber company is about to transfer to parks department building on Rubber Avenue.

Naugatuck and Waterbury will have put out a joint press release in January their joint project which will have the tenant. The development proposed for a roughly 150-acre site straddling Waterbury’s southern border with Naugatuck would have for an 800,000 square-foot building with high level equipment that would bring 1,000 jobs.

“We can’t name the tenant but it’s a fantastic project,” Hess said.

“There’s all types of things going on in Naugatuck,” Hess said. “These are very exciting times and we planned it that way.