For Georgetown: State OKs $2 million with conditions

After months of not being on the State Bond Commission’s agenda, a request for $2 million to replace the Norwalk River flood walls at the Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site in Georgetown was granted on Jan. 9 to the Georgetown Special Taxing District.

“The approval on Jan. 9 is cause for real optimism that we can finally get the Gilbert & Bennett redevelopment moving,” said Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton.

The $2 million is the first portion of a $5.6-million request, said Ms. Pemberton, but the funds will be released only if certain conditions are met by the Georgetown Special Taxing District (GSTD).

Within 30 days of Jan. 9, GSTD and the potential developer have to show the state they can access up to $60 million and start phase one of the project consistent with the approved Master Plan, said Ms. Pemberton.

Phase one includes the construction of up to 100 units of housing in the West Pond district, she said.

The remainder of the $5.6 million is for intersection work on Route 7 and North Main Street, next to the Nissan dealership.

By replacing the river walls, the work will put the project outside the 100-year floodplain, and will keep potentially contaminated soils from eroding downstream during severe flooding conditions. The work will also make the project compliant with the regulations of the National Flood Insurance Program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to a press release.

State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) said replacing the river walls is a safety issue for the area.

In addition to the safety aspect of the project, Ms. Boucher said, the project as a whole has many positive attributes.

“This is not a nice-to-have project, it’s a must-have project,” she said.