Officials eye end of January for launch of regional development agency

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WATERBURY — A new regional development agency pairing Waterbury, Naugatuck and potentially other communities will launch around the end of January, according to Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O’Leary.

The long-stalled plan would build a new agency on the backbone of the Naugatuck Valley Development Corp., Waterbury’s former development agency.

Waterbury aldermen signed off on the plan in May. Naugatuck officials agreed in August.

Michael O’Connor, volunteer CEO of the NVDC, begged off on making the transition. First, he wanted to conclude a slow-moving negotiation with a tenant for the vacant Timexpo Building.

That tentative lease — first announced in November 2018 — has taken far longer than expected to conclude. On Dec. 28, O’Connor said he’s done waiting and will call for a meeting of the NVDC board in late January to adopt new bylaws, a new mission and a new board.

O’Connor had hoped to conclude a decade-long lease agreement for Timexpo with the current NVDC board, which is familiar with the building and the proposal. But it no longer makes sense to wait, he said.

O’Leary also said his patience is starting to wear thin and he wants to put the new agency to work shortly after the end of January, if not sooner.

The new agency will handle projects of regional importance, such as an ongoing joint effort between Waterbury and Naugatuck to develop a roughly 160-acre property located in both communities.

In 2005, the city dropped the NVDC as its development arm and launched the Waterbury Development Corp.

Rather than handing over its assets and dissolving, the NVDC carried on as a very quiet nonprofit. It invested its cash reserves and collected rent on the Timexpo building, a three-story building at the Brass Mill Commons that had once served as offices for Scovill Manufacturing.

In recent years, the NVDC spent just over $1 million to support city development and planning initiatives, as well as various area nonprofits.

The plan is to use the agency’s remaining cash accounts and whatever proceeds come from a Timexpo rental to support the new regional development mission.

Editor’s note: This article updates the article “Creation of new regional agency for development on hold for now” published in the Jan. 2 edition of the Citizen’s News with new information that was received after press time.