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Residents Learn More About Economic Tool Aimed At Jump-Starting Redevelopment of Factory Complex

A "panoramic" iPhone view of the Collins Co. Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts

CANTON — A consultant charged with helping the town work on plan to help jumpstart redevelopment of the Collins Company complex began its work Tuesday.

During the day, representatives from Saratoga-Springs based Camoin Associates, in the first of several visits to town, interviewed complex owner “Rusty” Tilney, talked to merchants and potential developers and spoke at two public meetings as the first step in developing a Tax Increment Finance, or TIF, Master Plan for the property and perhaps some of the surrounding area. TIF involves taking a portion of the additional tax revenues generated by a development, or redevelopment, and investing them back into the project and/or related improvements.

At a public workshop Tuesday evening Camoin senior vice president Jim Damicis provided an overview for approximately 30 residents and the Canton Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Steering Committee.

In this case, the master plan would involve the general guidelines the town could use as a springboard to enter into an agreement with a future developer. Damicis said his company has been involved in some 75 projects, mostly in Maine and is excited about a relatively new state law that revamps the process in Connecticut. It’s not a cure-all but a powerful tool, he said.

“This is not a silver bullet for economic development,” he said. “It’s one tool in the mix.” … Continue Reading

DEEP: Bear Found Dead Friday was Second of the Week in Canton Area

June 26, 2016 Environment No Comments

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 3.24.37 PMBy John Fitts

CANTON — On Sunday afternoon officials with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection confirmed that a bear found dead of a gunshot wound off Barbourtown Road Friday evening was the second found that week.

On Friday, property owners found the partially decomposed body along a stream near Barbourtown Road. Marianne Humphrey Burbank told Canton Compass that the state conservation police told the family it had appeared to have been shot in the gut as a way to kill – but not right away.

“It’s maddening on so many levels,” Burbank said Saturday. “It’s maddening someone would be so cruel, so selfish.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact CT State EnCon Police at (860) 424-3333.

Earlier in the week, according to a DEEP press release, a bear was found dead not far from Canton Road near the Barkhamsted/Canton town line. That bear was found in a wooded area behind a house and officials initially believed it might have been hit by a car. However, a a necropsy indicated the bear died from a gunshot wound, DEEP public information officer Cyndy Chanaca confirmed Sunday.

See our original story here.

Also last week, a Canton woman on Atwater reported being nipped by a bear. See that story here.

DEEP: Dead Bear Found Near Barbourtown Road Had Been Shot

June 25, 2016 Environment No Comments

CANTON — State Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police responded Friday evening, June 24, to a report of a dead bear found in a heavily wooded area of adjoining backyards in the area of Barbourtown Road. A DEEP wildlife biologist determined that the bear was shot, according to a DEEP press release.

Marianne Humphrey Burbank said her brothers found the partially decomposed bear along a brook on family property at approximately 5 p.m. Friday. Family members had begun smelling an odor off and on earlier in the week but hadn’t pinpointed the cause, Burbank said.

Department of Energy and Environmental police and a biologist were already in town for an unrelated incident on Atwater Road and responded to the scene. Burbank said the family was told the bear had been shot in the gut in a way that was almost certainly done to ensure the bear didn’t die right away and would wander off.

The incident has affected a family pond on the property but Burbank said the cruelty of the incident has them most upset. DEEP has seen this before – including in the Canton – area but officials and the family members were very upset, according to Burbank.

“It’s maddening on so many levels,” Burbank said. “It’s maddening someone would be so cruel, so selfish.” … Continue Reading

Canton Woman Reports Being ‘Nipped’ by Bear 

IMG_8382A Canton woman told officers she was nipped by a bear on Friday afternoon, police said.

The woman, who suffered a minor bruise, told police the bear came up to her on Atwater Road while she was gardening and nipped her. She scared the bear off and was transported to the hospital for minor injuries, police said.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded to try and Locate and trap the animal. DEEP is taking over the investigation.

DEEP public information officer Cyndy Chanaca said Environmental Conservation Officers set up a trap but has not yet contained the bear. Officers will continue trying and she said generally such a bear would be relocated to a remote area. Chanaca could not  immediately confirm what would happen in this case but said she will continue to provide information as it becomes available.

Chanaca also said it is unusual for a bear to nip a person.

See more about black bears in Connecticut at http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325968&depNav_GID=1655

Selectmen to Get Appraisal for Route 44 Property Before Deciding on a Direction for Public Works Facility

The issue of a new public works facility is again a hot topic in town. Photo by John Fitts

The issue of a new public works facility is again a hot topic in town.
Photo by John Fitts

Update: the garage survey is now online and can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CBQSBRQ

By John Fitts 

CANTON – Town selectmen are looking to get an appraisal on the so-called “Satan’s Kingdom” property on Route 44 before they decide whether to pursue it for a public works facility project or move forward with an idea to rebuild at the current site on Old River Road.

Specifically, selectmen want to see how the property’s appraised value stacks against the $1.2 million the property owner is seeking for the 39 acres of land on Route 44, specifically known as 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike (Route 44).

“I think it’s a crucial piece of information,” selectmen Bill Canny said during Board of Selectmen meeting Wednesday and he and his colleagues voted to spend up to $2,000 for the appraisal. (Expected cost is between $1,200 and $1,500).

In light of years of failed referendums and a rapidly deteriorating facility, the town earlier this year developed a plan to rebuild its “town garage” at the current site near the Farmington River. The idea was to construct a 15,000 square foot facility, provide a new access road from 179 and enhance river access and recreational facilities.

While selectmen have discussed that idea at length this year, it has received some public criticism but is still on the table.

In recent weeks, selectmen have also discussed the Route 44 property, the site of a bitter controversy in 2014 when developer Allan Borghesi proposed an industrial park on the land. The property is now owned by an LLC managed by members of the Bahre family. … Continue Reading

First Selectman’s Corner: Public Invited to Hear More on Idea that Could Help Spur Collins Company Complex Redevelopment

Canton First Selectman Leslee Hill

Canton First Selectman Leslee Hill

Redevelopment of the Collins Company property has been an ongoing topic in Canton for many years. As you may know, the town is considering whether to pursue a program of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to encourage such redevelopment.

On Tuesday, June 28, 2016, representatives from our retained TIF consultant, Camoin Associates, will be visiting in order to tour the Collins Company complex, meet with local merchants and interested developers, as well as speak with town leaders and staff in order to begin the process of developing a TIF Master Plan.

That evening, Camoin Associates will be hosting a public workshop in order to discuss Tax Increment Financing and how the Town of Canton may be able to utilize this development tool. The presentation will provide an overview of TIF, as well as how it could be used to spur redevelopment of the Collins Company complex. It will be held in Room F of the Community Center, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. I encourage you to attend and become better informed on a topic that is relevant to both our economic development and preservation of this historic asset.

Best Regards, 
Leslee B. Hill
First Selectman

Town to Further Investigate ‘Satan’s Kingdom’ Site, Consider Surveying Residents About Town Garage Options

Some selectmen are intrigued with the idea of placing a town garage at this Route 44 site but want further information on cost, options for the entire parcel and other factors.

Some selectmen are intrigued with the idea of placing a town garage at this Route 44 site but want further information on cost, options for the entire parcel and other factors.

By John Fitts

Before deciding on a final direction for the next iteration of a proposed public works facility, the Board of Selectmen is seeking further information for the “Satan’s Kingdom” property and strongly considering a public survey.

For years the town has looked to replace its aging, rapidly deteriorating facility along the Farmington River at 50 Old River Road. Since 2010, three town garage related referendums have failed and a fourth plan never quite made it to voters. Earlier this year, the town developed a concept to rebuild at its current location and incorporate river access and amenities. But the idea of rebuilding near the river at the current site has met with some resistance from residents – many of whom spoke out a recent hearing on garage options.

While that recent hearing opened up discussion on several sites, selectmen on Wednesday essentially narrowed their focus to two – the current one and the “Satan’s Kingdom” parcels.

In 2014, the “Satan’s Kingdom” property, consisting of 40 acres over two lots at 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike (Route 44), was the subject of bitter controversy after developer Allan Borghesi proposed it for an industrial park, a plan he eventually withdrew. He later sold the property to an LLC run by members of the Bahre Family.

But in its multi-year search, the town has also long mulled the idea of a project on the Albany Turnpike property.

Before Borghesi purchased it in late 2013, town officials and the Permanent Municipal Building Committee discussed a project that could include a garage and recreation fields. More recently, the building committee suggested looking at it again and the town says the parcels are available for $1.2 million.

Selectmen are intrigued with the idea of building in the front, eastern portion of the property but have a myriad of question on how the plan would fare in comparison to rebuilding at the river, which the town is approximating as a $4.5 million project. … Continue Reading

Celebrate CT Trails Day with Canton Land Conservation Trust

The Canton Land Conservation Trust’s Smith Tree Farm also has two hiking trails – check one out on June 5, CT Trails Day, with a 2 p.m. guided hike. Contributed Photo

The Canton Land Conservation Trust’s Smith Tree Farm also has two hiking trails – check one out on June 5, with a 2 p.m. guided hike.
Contributed Photo

Submitted Release 

The Canton Land Conservation Trust invites all to celebrate Connecticut Trails Day on Sun. June 5 with a 2 p.m. hike followed by a 4 p.m. barbecue and Annual Meeting. Non-members and members alike are welcome to this celebration of another year of the Land Trust’s stewardship of approximately 2,000 acres of land.

The hike begins at 2 p.m. at the Smith Tree Farm. Land Trust Co-President Jay Kaplan will lead a 2-mile hike on the moderately strenuous Ted Wright Trail. A barbecue and Annual Meeting will follow at 4 p.m., also at the Smith Tree Farm. (You don’t need to do the hike in order to attend the barbecue, and vice versa!) … Continue Reading

Numerous Residents Speak Against Rebuilding Town Garage at Current Site Near Farmington River

garageBy John Fitts

CANTON – While there were exceptions, many residents who attended a public hearing Wednesday spoke against the concept of rebuilding the Public Works Facility at the current site along the Farmington River.

Speakers touted the idea of reclaiming riverfront, avoiding any and all floodplain issues and the limited chance for expansion at the current site.

“The greater sense to me of what our stewardship over the river entails is that we take the devil out of the river,” said Ben Holden of Boulder Ridge. “We don’t want a garage (at the river), however you jimmy crack into making it appear like it’s not in the floodplain. I do not like that. I object to that. I think it’s wrong minded.”

For years, the town has struggled to replace its aging, 600-square-foot site at 50 Old River Road. The municipality has looked to find a suitable location and plan that would serve the needs of the Public Works Department and pass muster with voters.

A plan to purchase property at 5 Cherry Brook Road, and two complete projects proposed at 325 Commerce Drive, have all failed at referendum.

For much of the history of the project, the town has focused on getting away from the river but earlier this year drew up a concept for the current site.

Town officials acknowledged it was a compromise but said the site could work by reducing the proposed footprint, burrowing the structure near Route 179 and creating a new access from the state highway, all while creating additional public parking, restrooms, increased recreational amenities and river access. The town said they’ve also cleared up questions about floodplain compensation at the site.

The town has received two estimates but no final price tag has been assigned. Town officials said  Jacunski Humes’ estimate of $6 million included a 21-percent contingency and Millennium Builders plan of $2.9 million was only for the building.

On Wednesday, Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner’s presentation (available below) reviewed current conditions at the site, project history and information about the current location, the idea of rebuilding at the current site and several sites recommended for reconsideration by the Permanent Municipal Building Committee, the group that over the years has investigated potential locations. Those discussed Wednesday included 325 Commerce Drive as well as a few others on that road, 51 River Road, 225 Cherry Brook and the “Satan’s Kingdom” property at 674 Albany Turnpike.

… Continue Reading

Canton Middle School Students Learn Life Lessons During Day of Service

By John Fitts (Additional photos courtesy of LaNelle Stanhope and Rebecca Stevenson) 

CANTON – While May 19, 2016 might not have been the most academically challenging day at Canton Middle School, students learned some important life lessons.

On that day, 282 Canton Middle School students, along with staff members and some parents, participated in a Day of Service, during which groups of students traveled to local farms, nursery schools, nursing homes, libraries, parks and elsewhere to clear invasive species, teach kids, clean out sheds, share their company with the elderly, pick up litter, and much more – putting in a collective 1,120 hours of work.

It’s an effort the school has worked toward all year and involved an ambitious effort to coordinate 22 projects at 18 different sites in a day-long effort.

As a result, students were able to make new friends, further the school’s 2015-2016 theme of “Paying it Forward” and feel energized about giving back, school officials said.

“The students embraced it and jumped right in,” said CMS principal Pamela C. Hamad said. “There was an energy in the building when they came back.” … Continue Reading

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Canton Food Bank @ Trinity Episcopal Church
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