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Public Hears Details of Preliminary TIF Master Plan for Collins Co. Complex

By John Fitts

On Thursday evening, representatives from Camoin Associates presented the public with a preliminary Tax Increment Financing Plan for the Collins Company Complex.

Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is the process in which a town, for a period of time, allows a portion of the increased property tax revenues generated by a project to go back into the project and/or related improvements and/or administrative costs.

For the past several months, the company has been working with a town-appointed TIF Steering Committee to develop a preliminary master plan for the 19-acre complex, the former site of the Collins Company, a world-famous manufacturer of edge tools that operated from the 1820s to 1966.

Currently Colliers is listing the property, on behalf of At Collinsville, for $3.9 million. Currently there are dozens of businesses in the complex but town officials have been frustrated for years at the lack of redevelopment of the complex, some of which is deteriorating to various degrees.

On Thursday, Jim Damicis, senior vice president at Camoin, shared an overview of TIF, the process for the town and the idea that a public-private partnership could help spur redevelopment at the complex.

The company estimates the property could generate more than a million in annual taxes. Today it generates approximately $32,000.

Damicis said a project could help the town diversify its job market and tax base and preserve a historic and beautiful asset in it’s the village downtown.

“This represents a significant opportunity for Canton,” he said. … Continue Reading

Images of Canton: Wood Firing at Canton Clay Works

By John Fitts

CANTON — Many potters love the beautiful, yet slightly unpredictable results of wood firing.

“It’s really manipulating randomness,” said Tim Scull, owner of Canton Clay Works. “There is a certain degree of the unexpected, idiosyncrasies in firings that make pieces unique and one of a kind.”

The firing method is just one of several that clay artists use to harden and finish their pieces. Several methods and kilns are utilized at Canton Clay Works.

But wood firing at Canton Clay Works is somewhat unique in its frequency and educational benefit. Often, it’s somewhat of a luxury. Many artists don’t have regular access to a wood kiln and those that do often only use it a handful of times per year. Some who own one only fire annually. … Continue Reading

First Selectman’s Corner: Preliminary TIF Plan Presentation is Thursday


Leslee Hill

Leslee Hill

Dear Canton Residents,

This year, the Town has been looking at ways to incentivize redevelopment of the historic Collins Company property (the “Axe Factory”) in Collinsville.  At the Annual Town Meeting in January, we heard a presentation on Tax Increment Financing, which is linked here:

Since then, the Town used grant funds to hire a consultant to prepare a preliminary TIF master plan. This preliminary plan can be presented to potential developers, to describe what incentives the Town may be willing to provide them. This preliminary plan will be presented to the public by the consultant on Thursday evening, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. in the Community Center, Room F. Below are some FAQs regarding Tax Increment Financing (“TIF”).  … Continue Reading

Village Cafe Burglarized, Now Re-Open

September 3, 2016 Business, Police No Comments

By John Fitts

It was an especially hectic morning at the popular Village Cafe and Bistro in Canton Village on Saturday.

Chef/owner Steven Day received a call at 5:30 a.m. from a staff member who had gone to open the restaurant and discovered that the place had been burglarized.

Day said someone had managed to pry open the front door and rip out the cash register system.

Day said the person (s) responsible did get a small amount of money and did break and trash some items in the restaurant but did not steal anything else.

“It was a quick job,” he said.

Fortunately for Day, he had some additional equipment he had secured for a planned expansion and was able to open at 8 a.m. – an hour later than usual. As of late morning Saturday, he was still working on getting some specialty cords and a few other details.

“Everything will be resolved, I think, by the end of the day,” he said. “It’s just one of those things.”

Canton police did respond to the restaurant Saturday morning but did not immediately release any further information.

Brewery Legitimus Owners Begin Brewing, Look to Open Soon

By John Fitts

The owners of Brewery Legitimus brewed the first batch of beer on their new equipment over the weekend. It is one of several exciting recent developments for Canton couple Chris and Christina Sayer, who are in the process of opening at 283 Main St. (Route 44), in New Hartford.

Dubbed Counter Surfer, in honor of the late Rosco, their beloved chocolate lab who will always remain in their hearts, the variety is one of three the couple is working to debut when they open the doors soon.

For some three years, Chris Sayer, who has worked for Harpoon, Duvel-Moortgat and Coca-Cola, has focused his energy on opening a local brewery and, last year, secured the 3,300 square-foot location in the former Waring Factory complex.

An exact opening date is to be determined as Sayers need to brew more beer in their 7-barrel system, “let the yeast do its work,” and undergo a final state inspection before they can welcome the public into the taproom.

But already area residents have shown overwhelming support for the effort.

On Aug. 12, the couple launched a kickstarter campaign. For beer lovers, the perks of giving are numerous. Depending on the level of giving, patrons are rewarded with items such as stickers, T-shirts, special edition growlers, mugs, mug club memberships and more.

The campaign launched with a goal of $10,000 and as of Tuesday morning 105 backers had given a total of $13,200.

“The support has been awesome,” Chris Sayer said. “We’ve been overwhelmed. People are very excited to back a brewery.” … Continue Reading

Town Accepts $1.3 Million Grant for Second Phase of Collinsville Streetscape

August 10, 2016 Business, Government No Comments

A portion of Phase 1 Collinsville Streetscape. Photo by John Fitts

After some 45 minutes of discussion, Canton electors on Wednesday voted to accept a $1.3 million dollar grant for phase two of Collinsville streetscape.

The funds were announced in early June as part of nearly $11 million awarded under the state’s Responsible Growth and Transit-Oriented Development Grant Program.

Numerous people spoke out about the grant, with many supporting it but others stating that the state should not be allocating the money at this time. Some also feel the improvements diminish the area’s character but other residents feel they’ve helped the area. (See more via our archived live facebook feed at https://www.facebook.com/cantoncompass/?ref=settings)

While there was somewhat a movement against accepting the grant in recent weeks, Selectman Larry Minichiello was ultimately the only audible voice against it when it came to a vote. Earlier this summer, Minichiello and selectman Bill Canny voted against moving the process forward to the Board of Finance, which ultimately referred it back to selectmen and on to special town meeting. The three other selectmen, Leslee Hill, Tom Sevigny and Beth Kandrysawtz voted to move it forward.

Last summer, the town completed the first phase of the streetscape project, which included lighting, a complete revamping of the ‘Town Hall’ parking lot, plantings, benches, crosswalk and sidewalk improvements, street paving and more. The work centered around lower Main Street. In all, that project was $500,000, $387,000 of which came from a Connecticut Main Street Investment Fund Grant and the balance from Local Capital Improvement Program and town pavement management funds.

The additional funding is slated to bring improvements to:

  • Main Street from Front Street to River Street
  •  River Street from Main to Bridge Street Bridge Street from Main Street to River Street
  • Market Street and North Street
  • The Green

The exact nature of the changes will be developed, with public input, at a later time.

Below is the presentation given at the meeting by Neil Pade, Canton’s director of Planning and Community Development. It can also be viewed at https://www.scribd.com/document/320852051/20140522-CollinsvilleRGA

Images of Canton: Replanted Rootz

August 2, 2016 Business, Photos No Comments

Photos by John Fitts 

COLLINSVILLE – Rootz Organic Salon debuted its new space at 124 Main St. in Collinsville on Tuesday.

The salon moved to the space after some 12 years at its old location further down Main Street.

Owner Jennifer Gero said the new space allowed her the chance to design a hair salon from scratch. On Tuesday, she was overwhelmed with gratefulness for the artists and handymen who helped design the space and the generosity of her employees and customers – several of whom came with cards, plants and the historical photo or two.

“It’s above and beyond anything I can imagine,” Gero said. “It’s truly amazing. I cried a lot this morning for the amazing kindness of people. I’m just enjoying it and taking it all in.” … Continue Reading

Canton Residents Help Women Rediscover Their Workplace Potential

August 1, 2016 Business, Community No Comments

UP LogoBy John Fitts

While workplace equality, flexibility and creativity have come a long way, there are still significant challenges for those women who perform at high levels but take time off to focus on family life.

A benefit corporation run by Canton women has worked to reduce barriers affecting this demographic and on Aug. 4 will host its first networking meetup in Hartford.

“What Untapped Potential is trying to say is those gap years are valuable; your lifespan is long to contribute,” said company founder Candace Freedenberg. “Taking that time out to be an immersed, focused parent is valuable as well.”

Incorporated in August of 2015, Untapped Potential is part of a new breed of benefit corporations that add an element of social enterprise to a traditional company structure.

Freedenberg and her partner, Christina “Christy” Mitchell, each have highly technical skills, and experience with the challenges of workplace demands, family life and community engagement.

Freedenberg is a technologist with advanced engineering degrees and experience at Fortune 500 companies. Mitchell has Computer IT and law degrees and has worked for corporations such as Cigna, UTC and Rite Aid. Both women live in Canton.

Untapped Potential, working with coaches and other talented professionals, is looking to create a “community outlet” that helps women keep up their professional skills and engagement during those “gap” years. … Continue Reading

Matterhorn Mini Golf Well Into the Swing of Second Season

July 29, 2016 Business, Community No Comments

By John Fitts 

CANTON — Now in its second season, Matterhorn Mini Golf is attracting people from places like Rhode Island, Westchester County and New Haven county who come to try a round of golf at the Swiss-themed course. Sometimes, folks from either further away find their way to the course as well.

Recently the Bateson family was visiting from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, considered the mini golf capital of the world. They have family in the area and didn’t come just for Matterhorn but were impressed by the course.

“This might be one of the neatest and most challenging course I’ve ever tried,” said David Bateson.

Owner Autumn Sutherland feels the course, now well into its second season, is becoming known.

“People are finding it a very special, different place to go,” she said.  “They are very grateful to come and find the new, world-class place to mini golf.”

… Continue Reading

Local Couple Continues Applegate Farming Tradition

By John Fitts 

CANTON — For Karen and Robert Bahre, Applegate Farm is a truly labor of love. Three and a half years ago when other family members moved on to other projects, they decided to take over.

“I just love this farm,” Karen Bahre said of the Lawton Road land.

“I just don’t want to see it go away,” Robert Bahre added. “You have to do it and hope people support you doing it.”

In the early 1970s, Karen’s parents Jean and the late Andrew ‘Pete’ Bouchard purchased land on Lawton Road. In addition to Mr. Bouchard’s Canton printing business, the couple were land lovers, keeping horses and later getting more into farming. A former printing business employee suggested the name Applegate due to the apple trees along the sides of the driveway where the house was built.

In the early 1980s, Karen’s brother Peter started a roadside vegetable stand.

… Continue Reading


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