Norwich Mayor Nystrom highlights development successes, new school project
Norwich ― During an upbeat State of the City address Tuesday, Mayor Peter Nystrom touted several major economic development projects completed or underway and thanked voters for their strong support of the $385 million school construction project that is designed to overhaul the public school system.
Nystrom, starting the second year of his second consecutive term and third term overall, mostly avoided controversial topics, such as the proposed second business park in Occum under review by the City Council Tuesday.
But Nystrom did give the council and the audience Tuesday an update on the state Department of Transportation’s controversial plan to reconstruct West Main Street-Route 82. The DOT initially had planned to install six roundabouts and a median divider on a 1.3-mile stretch of the commercial strip, but that plan was paused in fall to be “reassessed,” DOT officials said.
Nystrom said Tuesday he, City Manager John Salomone, Public Works Director Patrick McLaughlin and City Engineer Brian Long met recently via Zoom with state officials to discuss the project. Nystrom said a revised design is expected in April.
“What can be shared is that the number 6 will not be included in future discussions,” Nystrom said, referring to the roundabouts.
He added that after the revised plan is unveiled in April he expects public discussions to follow.
Mostly, Nystrom focused on the schools, recent voter referendum approvals for a new emergency dispatch system and firetrucks ― approvals he called “solid investments” ― and economic development successes.
A year ago, Nystrom reported that a company that manufactures large architectural glass panels for high-rise buildings would move into the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park. Nystrom said the company, now called Naverra, is fully operational.
“In addition to the approximate 70 to 100 eventual jobs, they are establishing themselves as one of our top three utility users,” Nystrom said.
Several Main Street projects underway garnered a mention.
Heritage Housing, Inc., co-owner of the Wauregan Apartments, acquired the decades-long-vacant Reid & Hughes Building across Main Street, and the city obtained a $550,000 state grant to assist with the cleanup. Heritage plans a $4.9 million renovation to create 17 market-rate apartments.
Down the road to the east, the former Elks Club is being renovated into a boutique hotel and the blighted former YMCA will become the new headquarters for Mattern Construction Group, with the help of a $2 million state grant. At the opposite end of Main Street, work is continuing to convert two large vacant buildings at 77-91 Main St. into 42 market rate apartments.
In Yantic, the former Hale Mill is being renovated into a hotel, and in Taftville, construction continues at the giant Ponemah Mills, with an additional 145 units of combined market-rate and affordable “top quality housing,” Nystrom said.
“When finished 460 units of housing will have been developed while preserving an historic building complex not found anywhere else in the world,” Nystrom said.
Nystrom said new and renovated housing, commercial development projects along with new city schools and improved infrastructure will make Norwich an attractive place “for families to buy homes and for businesses to invest.”