Published May 15. 2014 12:27PM Updated May 16. 2014 12:39AM
Norwich – A plan in the works since the aftermath of the March 2010 flood to relocate the devastated Nutmeg Companies Inc. at 31 New London Turnpike and convert the property into open space has come to fruition.
A combination of state and federal grants and a small local share is expected to cover the total projected project cost of $760,000. The project includes purchasing the property, demolishing the existing buildings and returning the property to a natural state.
Another $100,000 is needed to cover business relocation costs, and the city has applied for a $50,000 grant from the state Bond Commission for a portion of that cost.
The construction company has found a new location in the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park, resolving the final obstacle in the proposed deal.
Nutmeg co-owner Jason Bugbee said he could not identify the new location until Nutmeg closes on the purchase, expected to occur in early July.
“We appreciate the effort the city put forth to help us to put these grants in place,” Bugbee said. “I love Norwich. I’ve lived here since the ’80s. I’m glad we’re staying in Norwich.”
The company employs 22 full-time staff in the office and another 30 to 45 in the field depending on the number of projects underway, Bugbee said. The new location would offer an opportunity for future expansion, he said.
Nutmeg agreed in 2011 to sell the New London Turnpike property to the city for $650,000 with the condition that the company remain in Norwich. The owners have been looking for a new location to replace the flood-prone 3.8-acre New London Turnpike property.
A resolution on Monday’s City Council agenda would authorize City Manager Alan Bergren to complete an “Agreement of Sale and a Reimbursement Agreement with (company owner) Bugbee & Gawendo LLC.”
The city obtained a $570,075 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, leaving the city’s share at $190,025. A state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection open space grant of $123,516 will cover part of that cost. The city’s local share includes in-kind services such as disconnecting utilities, said Jackie Roy, project grant manager.
If obtained from the Bond Commission, the $50,000 relocation grant would go directly to Nutmeg.
Final costs are not yet known, pending demolition bids, Roy said.
Bergren said he hopes the entire project can be completed by December.
“It’s something the council has been working on for quite some time,” Bergren said. “It’s been a long process. It’s been a very good and healthy process. They’re staying in the city, and with the federal and state assistance, we’re hoping to remove an obstacle on the Yantic River. The business has been threatened by flooding and had serious flooding few years ago.”
Bergren thanked the city’s congressional delegation, especially U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and local state legislators for helping put together the complicated flood mitigation grant package. He recalled tours of the company by congressmen, senators shuffling through the thick mud that coated the floors following the flood.
A 4-foot wall of water crashed through the company’s storage garage wall and inundated the office and equipment storage areas.
“I can’t emphasize how complicated this whole thing was,” Bergren said. “We had to align the stars and planets to put this together.”