Torrington receives $100,000 grant for brownfield assessment of Nidec property [Register Citizen]

September 19, 2014

By Esteban L. Hernandez, Register Citizen

TORRINGTON >> The city received a $100,000 grant Thursday to help start brownfield assessment of the vacant and contaminated Nidec property on Franklin Drive.

The city is one of 11 municipalities who together received $1.7 million for property clean up and brownfield redevelopment from the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), according to a release from Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office.

Mayor Elinor Carbone said the money will be used to assess the Nidec Corporation warehouse on 100 Franklin Dr., which the company told the city earlier this year it planned to demolish. This assessment includes environmental impact studies needed to determine what kind of development is possible on contaminated sites.

The grant is the second one the city has received in three weeks. The city announced on Aug. 27 that they had received a $1 million grant to continue brownfield remediation of a decaying lot on Franklin Street. A portion of the lot has already been redeveloped as a parking lot, though work there remains before it can open. The initial development of that parking lot was paid for by an EPA-revolving loan fund.

Carbone said the city’s economic development director, Erin Wilson, who has stressed the importance of brownfield remediation, was responsible for submitting the grant application.

Carbone said it’s too early to say whether or not the city is interested in acquiring the 127,000 square-foot warehouse on Franklin Drive, but the money will help determine the type of contamination the building has and how it can be addressed. The assessment will offer additional insight on the possible reuse of the lot; the site sits on a 6.2 acre parcel and is zoned for industrial use. The property owners appear to be in flux in regards to the future of the property itself, Carbone said, further complicating a decision on how the city can approach the site. The assessment will help officials construct a strategic plan for the disposition of the site, Carbone said.

Beside the money, grants like this help bring attention to the city’s redevelopment efforts, Carbone said, which she learned through the remediation of the Franklin Street parking lot.

“As soon as we finished the work on Franklin Street with the parking lot…developers contacted us and told us that they were interested in what we’re doing with the property,” Carbone said. “The more attention we bring to this property, the more we are able to leverage public funds to help bring some private dollars.”

Carbone said the state seeks a return on their investment, usually by using the funds to create tax-producing or job-producing properties that spur economic development.

“We just want to remind the state that this investment does bring jobs, it does bring in tax revenue and we will do our best to use that to leverage continual development,” Carbone said.

Carbone said in a statement that she appreciates the governor’s effort, the DECD and the town’s legislative delegation.

“It’s a vote of confidence that they have in our vision,” Carbone said.

State Reps. Michelle Cook, D-Torrington, and Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville, were both supportive of the decision.

“Brownfield sites are often untapped economic resources. Rehabilitating these sites not only reduces public health risks, but clears the way for business development in Torrington,” said Cook in a statement.

State Rep. Jay Case, R-Winchester, and State Sens. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, and Clark Chapin, R-New Milford, collectively applauded the award in a joint statement.

“Remediating brownfields is a vital component of community growth and economic development,” said Chapin. “I want to congratulate city officials on securing this well-deserved state support. This important award will give Torrington the tools we need to examine and advance significant community improvements.”