Sen. Murphy supports plans for the use of brownfield sites

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Sen. Chris Murphy (left) and Mayor Mark Lauretti met at City Hall to discuss plans to use non productive properties – Aaron Berkowitz photo

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti took U.S Sen. Chris Murphy on a tour of some of the city’s brownfield sites, including the old Chromium building located on Canal street, to help convey what redevelopment projects are to come and what funds are required for them to be completed.

Lauretti and the outgoing president of the Shelton Economic Development Corporation, James Ryan, said they think Sen. Murphy could play a key role in the city receiving federal funds to back the development projects.

“At the end of the day these projects are a win for everybody,” said Lauretti. “The brownfield initiatives are a real star for city government because if you can take a property that has been unproductive, properties that have been unproductive for 25, 30, 40, 50 years and get them back on the tax roles with private investment at the table, how is that not a good thing?”

Lauretti said brownfield developments are the next step for Shelton in the process of reinventing the city.

“Shelton isn’t any different than the other Valley communities with an industrial past going back 100 years,” said Lauretti. “This project is the next step in a string of things. Success breeds success.”

Although Shelton recently received a $200,000 federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to help clean up the waterfront property in the city’s downtown, the city requires more funds for these developments and cleanup projects.

Ryan said EPA’s grant although helpful, doesn’t come close to covering the city’s required funds.

“The EPA is grossly underfunded,” said Ryan.

Murphy agreed with the mayor’s positive outlook on the redevelopment of brownfield sites, but he also noted the tight federal budget which will lead him to look for creative tax incentives for private investors.

“It’s unlikely that EPA’s budget is going to triple,” said Murphy.

He suggested that the responsibility falls on the entire country to help fund projects like this, not just the states in the northeast.

“The country owes us a debt in the Northeast that they haven’t paid. The country grew economically because of the Industrial Revolution that occurred here in New England. The whole reason that South Carolina and Alabama and Texas get to grow today economically is because we grew 100 years ago,” said Murphy. “But we grew when we didn’t know what we putting into the walls and into the ground, so we now have a bill that the whole country needs to help us pay. It isn’t just our problem.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission will met 7 p.m Jan. 12 to give the final approval for the construction of 60 plus condos in the place of the old Spongex building on Canal Street.

Lauretti said he expects the commission to approve the condo project and the growth that can be seen in the downtown area is a trend that he plans to continue in the city’s future.

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