Preston officials celebrate hospital property good news

Preston - The Board of Selectmen Thursday celebrated a week's worth of good news regarding the former Norwich Hospital property and will send a letter of thanks to the town planning staff and the Preston Redevelopment Agency.

First Selectman Robert Congdon attended a press conference with the federal Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday in Waterbury, where he received an oversized ceremonial check for $800,000 - displayed in the Town Hall meeting room Thursday. Town officials received word last week that the EPA approved four grants of $200,000 each - three to pay for hospital cleanup and one for environmental assessment.

Congdon credited PRA member Jim Bell, Town Planner Kathy Warzecha and her assistant, Kathy Nichols, for the successful EPA grant applications.

Town officials also learned Thursday that the state Attorney General's office has given final approval of a long-awaited amendment to the town's purchase agreement of the hospital property.

The amendment allows the town to clean and sell parcels of the 390-acre property without being required to first clean the entire property, as the original agreement stated.

Selectmen on Thursday also interviewed the top two candidates for a vacancy on the PRA caused by longtime member Sandra Ewing's retirement. The PRA interviewed three candidates last week; residents Frank Matovic and William Legler scored highest on the agency's evaluation criteria.

Selectmen Thursday recommended appointing Matovic, a retired Millstone nuclear power station employee with experience in grant writing and a 33-year Preston resident, for the position. The appointment must be approved by a town meeting.

Legler, a 15-year program manager for various companies, attends most municipal meetings and is a vocal participant on town issues.

Selectman Michael Sinko said Preston was lucky to have multiple candidates willing to spend so much volunteer time on an agency that requires many hours of tedious and technical work.

c.bessette@theday.com

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