Plotting the course

The Hop Brook pool in Naugatuck will be filled in after a proposal to bond $1 million to fix it was rejected Nov. 4. –FILE PHOTO
The Hop Brook pool in Naugatuck will be filled in after a proposal to bond $1 million to fix it was rejected Nov. 4. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — The borough is plotting how to proceed following the vote on bonding for four capital projects this month.

On Nov. 4 voters rejected three proposals on the ballot — $1 million to renovate Hop Brook pool, $775,000 for a new recycling center and $12.4 million upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. They approved $5 million for infrastructure projects.

Burgess Bob Neth, who chairs the five-year capital committee that brought the projects forward, said he felt the projects were important to residents, but understands why they either passed or failed.

“I could see the point of the recycling center; people aren’t sure and I can understand them voting it down. I could see the point with the pool because people may not like pools or may not want to see the pool over in that section again,” Neth said. “The roads are understandable because they see that the roads are bad. We also need to fix the bridge. I knew that that had a very good shot at passing.”

The Hop Brook pool, which had fallen into despair, has been closed for three years. The money would have gone to fixing and reopening the pool.

Since the project was voted down, Public Works Director James Stewart said the next step is to demolish the pool and fill it in. When the work will begin will depend on the weather, he said. If it’s a bad winter, he said, the work will be done in the spring.

Stewart said there are several options under consideration for what to do at the site, including installing a splash board, which sprays water into the air. He said the town had funds set aside for part of the pool repairs and this money would cover the cost of the splash board.

The borough’s recycling center is going to remain on Rubber Avenue for now. Officials wanted to move the center, which is need of repairs as well, to one of two sites — the Naugatuck Industrial Park or the Chemtura property off of Cherry Street Extension.

Stewart said Chemtura agreed to deed the property to the town during one of its subdivisions.

Everything will remain stats quo for now. Stewart said the borough doesn’t have any funding in the budget to do upgrades at the center.

Although the $5 million capital infrastructure bond, which included road paving, reconstruction of the Whittemore Bridge and the installation of a traffic light, passed, Stewart said it might be some time before work begins.

Stewart said the borough has to coordinate with any work scheduled by utility companies so a road is ripped up twice.

“The utilities companies are proposing to do Rubber Avenue next summer. So we couldn’t begin paving it until the following year,” Stewart said.

There is $4 million earmarked for repaving roads. Stewart said the work is expected to be spread out over the next couple of years.

“We can’t do that in one year,” Stewart said. “I’m expecting this will take us about two and a half years to expend the money.”

Work on the Whittemore Bridge will most likely not start until the summer, Stewart said.
The borough is currently deciding whether to continue using the contractor it had originally chosen to repair the bridge or to send everything back out to bid again.

The traffic light, which is proposed to be installed at the intersection of Melbourne Street and Rubber Avenue, needs to designed, approved, constructed and installed, Stewart said.
Stewart expects the process to take at least two years.

The repairs to the wastewater treatment plant are federally mandated and now that the measure failed officials have to figure out the next step.

“I thought that the mandate from the federal government on the incinerator project would have passed. But it didn’t. Now it’s going to be a waiting game. When the [Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] or the EPA come to us and say you are now in violation and you’re going to have to do something or you will be fined daily, at that point the borough board will have to make a decision on how they will handle that,” Neth said.

The state DEEP is overseeing an order from the federal Environmental Protection Agency that states municipalities with wastewater treatment facilities must make millions of dollars in upgrades to mitigate environmental pollutants. Those municipalities not in compliance can face fines.

The borough has contacted the DEEP about the situation for guidance on how to proceed.

Mayor Robert Mezzo said it is unclear how the borough will move forward with this, but it will have to move forward at some point.

“We are currently exploring the next steps with regard to the required upgrades with our bond counsel. We will also be communicating with the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the agency that enforces the federal mandates. Ultimately we will have to make the mandated improvements to the incinerator, but it has yet to be determined when that will occur and how it will be paid,” Mezzo said.