Redeveloping Our Community – Shelton

May 11, 2012

During the past year, our community of Shelton has seen some promising developments. While the nation’s economy slowly improves, we must consider how the local economy stands to benefit from several important decisions on both public and private levels. I am certainly optimistic that Shelton may soon see improvements in the local economy and overall quality of life. In this week’s column, I would like to highlight some of the reasons to be optimistic about our city’s future, including increased economic development and improved opportunities for recreation.

Across our state, many communities have former manufacturing and industrial sites that long ago provided jobs and produced goods that were sold throughout the nation and world. If not redeveloped over the years, these sites often remain in a state of limbo largely to the detriment of surrounding neighborhoods. Known as brownfields, these are defined by Connecticut General Statutes as “any abandoned or underutilized site where redevelopment, reuse or expansion has not occurred due to the presence or potential presence of pollution in the buildings, soil or groundwater that requires investigation or remediation before or in conjunction with the restoration, redevelopment, reuse and expansion of the property.”

In Shelton, one of these sites is the former Cel-Lastik property located at 93 Canal Street. Since 1870, the site has been used by several manufacturing companies to produce bolts, rubber and plastic gaskets and other items. Over the years, these processes have contributed to polluting the building, soil and groundwater with industrial chemicals that can be harmful to humans. While it has remained an empty lot and has been replaced with safe top soil, the property must be fully processed before it can become part of the River Walk. Remediation is an expensive process and requires investment to clean the property as much as possible.

To help in these efforts, Shelton was awarded a $325,000 brownfield grant in March by the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to help clean up the site and prepare it for redevelopment. The site has plans to become a public greenspace, building off of the prior success of the River Walk and the Derby Greenway located across the Housatonic River. The parcel itself is located just north of the Veteran’s Memorial Park, a beautiful and solemn remembrance to those in the armed forces who served our nation. Once the site is cleaned up and connected to other public space on the riverfront, it will benefit our residents who can look forward to walking, exercise and simply enjoy our city.

Under the leadership of Mayor Mark Lauretti, Shelton has much to be optimistic about, from economic development and job creation to improved opportunities for public recreation on the riverfront. Cleaning up polluted industrial properties and providing a healthy place for city residents, this project will improve the quality of life in our downtown area. It is an encouraging sign for more jobs and opportunity for families who live in our city. It is my hope that you will join me in supporting this initiative as we make plans to improve our community.