Redeveloping Our Community – Seymour

May 11, 2012

During the past year, our community of Seymour 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 over recent plans in Seymour that may soon lead to improvements in the local economy. In this week’s column, I would like to highlight some of the reasons to be optimistic about our town’s future, including opportunities for increased economic development and future improvements in housing and transportation planning.

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 Seymour, one of these sites is the former Housatonic Wire Company property located at 109 River Street. Almost 40 years have passed since the Budzinski family first established the business in Shelton. In 1978, the company moved to its current location in Seymour and first began manufacturing steel wire for paperclips and notebook bindings. Over the years, it produced several types of steel wire and spools before being sold to Taconic Wire of North Branford in 2008. Then, on September 11, 2010, the vacant factory was destroyed in a massive fire that was reportedly started accidentally by a contractor using a blowtorch to remove pipes inside the building. The property has future potential and plans are shaping up to redevelop the damaged building.

To help in these efforts, Seymour was awarded a $500,000 brownfield grant in March by the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to help clean up the site and prepare it for further development. The revitalization project will cost a total of $500,000 for soil remediation of the polluted material. However, demolition must begin before remediation can take place. Due to insurance and monetary setbacks, the owners could not start the process of taking down the building until receiving an additional $200,000 loan. Once this clean up is completed, future plans include mixed use commercial and residential development such as apartments and stores and would incorporate the site’s impressive waterfalls. Because of its close proximity to existing rail and bus service, the property may be an ideal candidate for a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) plan.

Under the leadership of First Selectman Kurt Miller, Seymour has much to be optimistic about, from economic development and job creation to housing and transportation improvements. With this state investment and potential commercial and residential plans, our community is becoming a promising location for future business growth and opportunity for families in our town. It is my hope that you will join me in supporting these initiatives as we make plans to create jobs in town for a better future.