Winsted, other area towns getting grants [Register Citizen]

July 21, 2014

By Esteban L. Hernandez, Register Citizen

WINSTED >> Deteriorated after more than 20 years of vacancy, the building on 23 Lake St. known as the Lambert Kay property is poised for redevelopment thanks to a state grant.

Standing a few yards away from the building, Gov. Dannel Malloy formally announced on Friday that the town received a Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant worth half a million dollars for brownfields remediation on the 35,000-square-foot property.

“We love to find projects that have a potential economic development side to them,” Malloy said. “Certainly, this one does.”

The $500,000 grant will help clean up the site and hopefully draw new businesses, creating jobs and boosting the local economy, Malloy said.

“These are funds that will have a lasting effect on the towns they reach for years to come,” Malloy said.”

The governor was joined by Mayor Marsha Sterling, state Rep. Jay Case, R-Winchester, and state Sen. Clark Chapin, R-New Milford.

Sterling said the building was constructed in the late 1880s and served as a manufacturing plant primarily for metal processing until 1993, when it became vacant. It was acquired by the town for $1 in 2002.

Sterling said the grant is a vote of confidence in the town from officials in Hartford. It also encourages further development there and in the town’s other bronwfields sites.

“Today confirms that we will be cleaning this up and it will become something else,” Sterling said. “This will be cleaned up and will be used; it won’t stay like this for another 10 years, even another two.”

Sterling said the money will help clean up asbestos in the building and ground contamination, clearing a path for XS4D Entertainment Holding Company that’s interested in the facility. She said the town has little information regarding when remediation work would begin.

Case said he was happy with how fast the grant was able to move through the state legislature.

“This is great for the town of Winchester. It’s going to economically boost the town,” Case said.

Chapin said he appreciates the governor’s commitment to brownfields remediation.

“Money invested today that helps the environment and helps clean up some of these brownfields is a very worthy expenditure,” Chapin said.

The town’s Board of Selectmen voted last month to sell a portion of the property—1.65 acres—for $15,000 to XS4D Entertainment, a high-end gaming reclining company. The sale has to be approved by town voters, who will get their opportunity to vote on July 21 during the selectman meeting and after a presentation from the company. The company has pledged to invest $1.5 million into the redevelopment of the site.

“We have to hear from them what their commitment is,” Sterling said, as additional financing is required.

She said the presentation will give the board and the public an opportunity to hear the company’s pitch.
Former Winsted Mayor Lisa Smith attended the brief press conference and said the grant was the result of a team effort from the town’s Republicans. Applying for the grant was among the first order of business after she came to office in November. She resigned in April.

“It’s awesome,” Smith said. “It’s just one more push forward for the town.”

Selectman Candy Perez said praise had to be given to Dale Martin, town manager, who was instrumental in acquiring the grant and facilitating negotiations between the municipality and the company interested in the building. Martin is on vacation in Italy and won’t be able to attend the upcoming meeting.

In April, the town received $100,000 in funding from the Department of Economic and Community Development for site redevelopment , later earmarked for the Lambert Kay property. It was a portion from the $3.8 million awarded to 20 other Connecticut towns and cities by the department,.

Other towns in Litchfield County receiving STEAP grants include Cornwall, which received $100,000 for structural repairs to the North Cornwall Meeting House; Kent, which received $500,000 to purchase a 1.6 acre vacant lot to construct a municipal parking lot, public bathroom facilities and a town park green; Morris, which received $35,000 to replace a generator at the Highway Department Garage; Plymouth, which received $500,000 for work on Route 6 as part of efforts to redevelop the downtown Terryville area; and Thomaston, which received $500,000 for sidewalk reconstructions, development of downtown municipal parking and phase 1 construction of an athletic facility.