Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Norpaco Identified as Manufacturer for Bysiewicz Site
Dean Spilka, president of Norpaco Gourmet Foods, appeared before the Economic Development Committee and presented his vision for a new manufacturing plant on a city industrial park site officially called Liberty Park, known locally as the Bysiewicz property. The property in question is one which the Army Corps of Engineers has identified as a possible site for its Army Reserve Training Center.
In November we reported here that the owner of the property was seeking incentives for an unnamed manufacturer to build a plant in Middletown. The owner also sought incentives to allow private development as opposed to development by the Army. The property-owner incentives were approved by the Common Council in December.
On Monday night Spilka, president of Norpaco, and Stephen Stachelek, Vice President of Finance for the company, appeared to talk about expanding their operation in Middletown. Currently located in New Britain, Norpaco produces bottled hot peppers stuffed with salami and provolone (known as Pepper Delights), poppers, panini rolls, pesto, Italian salads and other gourmet Italian specialty foods.
Founded in Norwich in 1946, the company moved to Bristol, and then New Britain and has grown into a $13.8 million company with 100 full-time employees. They have outgrown their current plant, and are looking to construct a 50,000 square foot building, expandable to 70,000 square feet, with the potential for 140 and which will bring $80,000 in taxes to Middletown annually.
The company is seeking a designation in the Urban Jobs Program which will bring them a temporary 80% tax abatement, half covered by the state, half by the city. They are also looking for assistance with relocation funds.
"It's a huge financial package with lots of relocation," Spilka told the commission. "I could have moved the operation to South America or Mexico, but that's not what we do."
Spilka and Stachelek also told an Eye correspondent that they would be willing to consider green methods for their new plant, and would encourage the city to create public transport for workers to the site.
The commission approved the plan which will come before the Common Council at its February meeting.
Also at the meeting, Jacqueline Williams and John DeSena of JDS Holdings were given approval to approach the Common Council for purchase a blighted property at 82 North Main Street. DeSena has improved two other blighted properties in town, oneat 471 Washington Street and one at 1359 Newfield. The Council must approve the conveyance of blighted property as designated by city ordinance.
Representatives from Kleen Energy and Buckeye Pipeline explained to the commission how a low-sulfur, low-pressure oil pipeline is being proposed from just below the Arrigoni Bridge to the Kleen Energy site in Maromas. The pipeline will be built along deKoven Drive, River Road, Eastern Road, Bow Lane and then through city property before it reaches the Kleen Energy site. Buckeye Pipeline needs approval for temporary easements as it drills and digs and permanent easements for the pipeline.
Kleen Energy's William Corvo explained that Kleen Energy will produce electricity using natural gas, unless there is an emergency, or economic hardship in using gas. Corvo said that the plant will be built to a standard of environmental integrity which will emit the lowest particulate matter in the nation, 2.5 parts per million as opposed to the current standard of 10 parts per million.
The committee approved the easements which will be considered by the Common Council. Planning and Zoning and Inland Wetlands must approve other portions of the Buckeye site plan.
The meeting ended with a discussion of shovel-ready projects. Newly seated state representative Matt Lesser attended in the interest of getting attention for Middletown's projects when the Obama administration distributes economic incentive money for infrastructure projects.
The Eye published a list of preferred projects as compiled by the mayor and staff, which was sent to Governor Jodi Rell for consideration.
"The governor's parameter for 'shovel-ready' set the bar too high," commission chair Gerry Daley said.
"The legislature doesn't necessarily agree that the money is going to go to the governor without some input," Lesser added.
Commission member David Bauer added that the state has a history of siphoning off project dollars for grants like the one being considered.
"The state takes an unconscionable level of the funds right off the top," he said. "And we don't see the value the state's involvement adds."
When asked by Lesser to identify the top three projects for consideration the commission agreed that North End redevelopment was the highest priority, with Westfield water improvement and improvements to Industrial Road following closely behind.
The committee also voted to recommend the creation of a separate parking department, and to consider extending the contract for city lobbyists Panuzio & Giordano.