Study needed to move forward with development

Naugatuck and Waterbury are working together to develop a large tract of land in the south end of Waterbury near the Naugatuck line. -BILL SHETTLE/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

WATERBURY — Waterbury and Naugatuck leaders are hoping to put a huge commercial or industrial development on a roughly 160-acre site straddling the border of the two municipalities.

But first, they need to make sure there’s no historically important settlements or artifacts hidden beneath the soil.

The Waterbury Development Corp. board of directors has signed off on a $22,000 study to be conducted by Cheshire firm Milone & MacBroom. The study is intended to satisfy requirements of the State Historic Preservation Office.

It’s expected to be completed within two to three months, according to a memo by WDC Project Manager Zachary Keith.

Connecticut taxpayers are contributing $2.8 million to the project, courtesy of a vote of the Connecticut State Bond Commission. That money is intended to pay for the creation of a new roadway and underground utilities pushing in from Naugatuck. A portion of that funding can be used to pay for the study.

If any artifacts are found, it would prompt further study and archaeological work on the site, potentially delaying development efforts.

The $2.8 million state grant is expected to be enough to cover road and utilities costs for either of two proposed building scenarios. The most expensive would be to locate several large buildings on the property. The preferred alternative would be a single, massive, building. That would simplify the installation of a roadway and utilities, and significantly cut costs.

City and borough officials also see it as the best option in terms of taxes and jobs.

“I think that would provide a lot of economic development for the city and borough as well as job opportunities,” Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O’Leary said Tuesday.

The manner in which the city develops the site will be determined by the company or companies it and the borough are able to attract. O’Leary estimates the city would be ready to begin marketing the site by some point in December.