This letter is written by Tom Riccio
Recent headlines of “surprise” by elected leaders over Unilever closing are poppy cock. Those with their heads out of the sand knew the decision to move was only a matter of time for the past decade. I find local government guilty of not having a contingency plan in place and ready to implement the day Unilever announced its shutdown. If such a plan was in place, actions would already have begun to find a solution for this property. We obviously did not learn our lesson from Stanley Bostich.
So how can Unilever closing be turned into a positive. The town of Clinton is currently under order from the State to fix waste water treatment problems in town. This ongoing debate has lasted over twenty years at a cost of nearly half a million dollars. We are now at the point of facing stiff daily fines if a solution is not reached soon. I offer the solution that Unilever be made to decontaminate its property and either sell it to the town at a discount or donate it to the town. Clinton in turn builds a state of the art waste water treatment facility as a for profit town enterprise.
Waste water conjures up ugly images. But consider this. The current sewage runoff into Clinton Harbor from failed or antiquated septic systems pollutes Clinton’s shoreline 24/7, and even more so after a heavy rain. The advantages of having a high tech treatment facility are numerous. First, economic activity in Clinton could blossom. Ever wonder why we have no chain restaurants in Clinton? Not enough septic space available. Secondly, our gems, Clinton Harbor and the Town Beach would become even more of an attraction for tourists, yes, those people we want to come to town, spend money and then leave. Commercial and residential shellfishing could be opened. Third, revenue could be generated by taking in wastewater from surrounding towns, and possibly selling the clean water produced. The site is centrally located and large enough for such an operation. We could possibly get the Connecticut Water Company or some other private firm to join in a venture.
Sound silly and pie in the sky? Maybe, but crying over the loss of Unilever is living in the past. Bold ideas are needed immediately for this property or else the household budget in Clinton will get a whole lot tighter.
- Tom Riccio