Shelton’s Constitution Blvd. extension work to start this month

SHELTON — Groundbreaking to extend Constitution Boulevard is on track for September, according to city officials.

Kellie Vazzano, Mayor Mark Lauretti’s administrative assistant, confirmed that plans are in the works for a special event “in the coming weeks” for the road work, even as city officials plan its next informational forum with neighboring property owners on Sept. 14.

This news comes weeks after the discovery of indigenous people’s artifacts on what is known as the Churma property — the site at 55 Blacks Hill Road which was recently condemned by the city. Lauretti said the land has been transferred to the city, with a judge’s decision on final payment to the property owners still in process.

Michael Raber, of Glastonbury-based Raber Associates, said four pieces of “Native American quartz debitage, from possible manufacture/repair of Native American artifacts, were found in two tests close to the east and west edges of Blacks Hill Road.

“They are just small bits of rock, created when larger rocks are struck with stones to create or sharpen stone tools,” he added.

He said additional tests were completed close to each of the initial tests to determine if the finds represented a site of intact Native American activity, or if they were randomly left there at some point.

“There were no further Native American finds,” Raber said. “With no indications of intact potentially significant site areas, no further investigations are required.”

He said these artifacts could have been created by people who stopped in this spot very briefly to do their tool work.

“If there was ever a site here, construction of the road, houses, driveways, garages, left few traces,” Raber said. “They will not be sent to any museum. There is no value to them when it is only a few pieces, as it tells us nothing new and has no intrinsic visual or cultural value like a finished or partly finished tool.”

The areas searched around the initial finds were each within about 400 square feet, Raber added, unless “it was obvious the expansion area was disturbed by the road, other landscape features, or slopes exceeding 15 to 20 percent.”

Raber said he has not worked in Shelton before but based on years of work all over the state he suspects that Native American sites in the city have been reported largely, if not entirely, near the river, along streams, or near wetlands and ponds in the steep uplands during seasonal hunting or out gathering.

Extending the roadway and use of the Mas property has been on the table for years, but Lauretti began the most recent push in April 2021 when he presented preliminary plans for creating the road leading into the city-owned land, which would be developed into a manufacturing corporate park.

Plans for accessing the 70-acre property include extending Constitution Boulevard to reach Route 108. Lauretti said a zone change would be needed, requiring plans to go before zoning at some point.

The Mas property is now vacant. It is mostly wooded with considerable stone ledges and several ponds, including one that is about 600 feet long and 250 to 300 feet wide, and lies between Bridgeport Avenue, Cots Street, Tisi Drive, Sunwood Condos on Nells Rock Road, Regent Drive, Walnut Avenue and Kings Highway. Part of the land abuts the back of the Perry Hill School property.

The city already has tentative agreements with Bigelow Tea and William and Nicole Charney, owners of Shelton-based Advanced Home Audio, which is presently located on Long Hill Cross Road, to purchase land on the Mas property.

The Charneys agreed to pay the city $85,000 per acre, which comes out to $510,000. The aldermen’s approval states the total acreage and payment amount will be determined after the final subdivision of the nearly 70-acre parcel near Constitution Boulevard.

That sale came weeks after Lauretti announced that Bigelow Tea was purchasing 25 acres of the property for an estimated $2.1 million for its future expansion.