NAUGATUCK — David Prendergast, the first CEO of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation, announced his plans to retire at a NEDC board meeting on Monday.
Prendergast, 68, of Cromwell, said he is working on a job posting and will stay to ease the organization’s transition to a new CEO.
Prendergast said he voluntarily reduced his hours about two years ago as he began to contemplate retirement.
“Sooner or later, I guess you gotta bite the bullet,” he said.
Prendergast declined to reveal what he makes running the daily operations of the NEDC, a nonprofit organization that works with the local government to attract businesses to the borough and revitalize downtown. He has held the position since the organization was formed almost a decade ago.
Prendergast will not receive a traditional pension, but he said he has independent retirement accounts from his employment with the borough and the other municipalities he worked for during a career in economic development that exceeds 30 years.
His decade in the borough was largely defined by the rise and fall of the Renaissance Place downtown revitalization project, an effort planned to cost more than $700 million, largely from private investors who would have funded condominiums, shops, entertainment and office facilities along the Naugatuck River. The agreement between the borough and exclusive developer Alex Conroy expired last year after five years without a shovel in the ground.
Officials have largely blamed the recession for the project’s failure, and point out that under Prendergast’s watch, the borough cleaned up contaminated land and completed several studies and bureaucratic steps necessary for future development. The borough also bought the General DataComm property earlier this year, taking ownership of more than 10 acres downtown, and the NEDC is now soliciting interested developers.
Prendergast has also helped companies relocate or expand into the Naugatuck Industrial Park and helped many of them obtain local and state tax breaks, Mayor Robert Mezzo said. Prendergast worked with the Board of Mayor and Burgesses to create a local tax incentive program for non-industrial businesses.
“I think it says something about Dave that he’s been able to work through multiple different administrations and still steer the NEDC on a consistent course of seeking a more prosperous community,” Mezzo said. “At the time you create an entity that’s new and that has no history, you really need a stabilizing influence who brings experience and strong people skills in working with others to create the foundation for success, and Dave has certainly done that.”