NPU to spend another $250,000 to study undisclosed development project

Norwich — The utilities commission has authorized spending another $250,000 to study the economic feasibility of an undisclosed proposed development project officials said could boost jobs, utility revenues and the city’s tax base, Norwich Public Utilities officials said.

The board voted unanimously after an hourlong executive session Tuesday with officials from the Norwich Community Development Corp. to extend its original agreement with NCDC approved last July that included the first $250,000 to study the proposed development. At the time, NPU and NCDC officials anticipated reporting back to the utilities commission and the City Council in fall on the results.

But utilities and NCDC officials met behind closed doors with the City Council last week and said they needed more time, and now more funding, to study the project further.

“With tonight’s vote,” said a written statement by NPU issued after the vote, “the NPU Board has agreed to provide the NCDC with an additional $250,000 to support more detailed evaluation and research into this opportunity through the end of 2020.”

The statement said providing any specific details about the project “would compromise the considerable progress that has been made to date.” NPU pledged to provide an exact accounting of how the money was spent once a determination is made whether to move forward with the project.

NPU General Manager Chris LaRose after the July vote said only that the funding would be used for engineering and financial analysis in connection with the potential development, and the project could include extending utility infrastructure along roadways and onto property. At that time, LaRose called the project “a very interesting potential development opportunity.”

Both the July resolution and the resolution approved Tuesday referred to NPU’s desire to promote economic development in the city to generate more tax and utility revenue. Tuesday’s resolution cited NPU’s longstanding support for NCDC in annual grants to fund the agency’s operation.

The resolution calls for NPU to amend the funding agreement approved in July with NCDC, with the dollar amount now “not to exceed $500,000,” including the first grant approved in July and the new allocation.

c.bessette@theday.com

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