Photo: Digital First Media
PORTLAND — The town has received confirmation the state has not yet released $750,000 to be used to remediate the 5.4-acre riverfront parcel the town voted to acquire.
The confirmation came in a letter to the town from the Department of Economic and Community Development .
The DECD grant will be used to clean up the site formerly occupied by Connecticut Tar & Asphalt Co.
First Selectwoman Susan S. Bransfield has invited residents who are interested in serving on a focus group to decide what uses to make of the property to send in their names to her office.
One of the goals of acquiring the property was to return it to the tax rolls.
It is also a goal of the DECD grant.
Bransfield said she has seen evidence of successful efforts in other cities and towns — particularly including several in the Naugatuck River Valley.
In the months leading up to the September vote in which residents overwhelming approved the purchase, there was no shortage of ideas for how to use the land.
One of the most popular ideas was to support construction of a riverfront café, that would be ideal for following the transit of the summer sun.
Other ideas include parking for the nearby Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park.
Bransfield has consistently promised that residents will be involved in making the decision.
She noting there are three parcels of land, giving the town more options for potential future use.
Some or all the parcels could either be leased or sold, she said.
To date more than 20 residents have submitted their names to be considered as member of the focus groups, Bransfield said.
She continues to welcome more requests to be part of the community effort, she said.
The focus group will be asked to “gather information and opinions from residents, businesses and town officials” alike about the proposed use of the riverfront property, Bransfield wrote in a draft resolution.
The group will also be asked to “Gather statistical data for the region relating to businesses and tourism trends,” and to “assist in the dissemination of information related to the progress of remediation to the public.”
Furthermore, the focus group will be asked to “review grant opportunities to enable the town to engage of consulting firm for development of a comprehensive implantation plan for redevelopment of the land.”
And finally, the focus group will be asked to review the town’s riverfront overlays zone and recommend to the Planning and Zoning Commission “appropriate uses to be added or eliminated.”
Even as she is trying to include more residents in considering options of use of the land, Bransfield is also working with a licensed environmental professional to develop a proposal to oversee the remediation work.
Amy Villancourt, a LEP, has worked with the town since the beginning of its efforts to acquire the river front parcel.
Retaining Villancourt would serve both to show the town is committed to returning that land to the tax rolls while at the time ensuring there is accountability in the process,” Bransfield said.
DECD has signaled its approval for that approach, Bransfield said.
Bransfield said she intends to bring up the issue during the Board of Selectmen’s first meeting of the New Year, which is scheduled for Jan. 7.