Mayor Neil O'Leary, middle, led today's groundbreaking ceremony.
Photographs By John Murray
Today Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary was joined by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Brass City Harvest Executive Director Susan Pronovost, Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt, State Senator Joan Hartley, and other dignitaries for a ceremonial groundbreaking and press conference to kick off construction of the Brass City Regional Food Hub. The event took place at 406 Mill Street and started at 10:00 AM. The Brass City Regional Food Hub is Connecticut’s first, purpose-built agricultural facility that will aggregate, sanitize, manufacture, and wholesale/retail fresh farm food and food products.
Mayor O’Leary was pumped up for the event. “We are thrilled to see construction begin on the Brass City Regional Food Hub," he said. "This trailblazing facility will include a combination market, greenhouse, and food washing facility will provide local farms a best-practice facility to wash their produce, and provide access to quality produce for our local residents. This project would not have come to fruition without the leadership of Senator Joan Hartley and Susan Pronovost. We look forward to seeing construction progress, and are confident that this facility will position Waterbury as a regional agricultural hub.”
As a social enterprise, the Brass City Regional Food Hub will support the growth of the local economy through the creation of new food industry jobs and vocational training opportunities. The facility will focus on the creation of new fresh food access points in Waterbury to nurture its residents through mobile farmer’s markets, farm shares, Farm-to-School Initiatives, healthy corner store options, and an expansion of Brass City Harvest’s nutritional programs. Long-term, sustained access to fresh food, commerce, and community development are key outcomes of the operation of this phased food hub complex that is transforming vacant, blighted brownfield land into a productive use.
This facility was made possible by funding from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, US EPA, and US Housing and Urban Development Agency.
More than 100 community leaders attended the event in the South End of Waterbury.
State Senator Joan Hartley has championed the project for many years.
Retired state legislator Jeff Berger drew a huge laugh when he described himself as a "former person of importance".
State Representative Geraldo Reyes Jr., middle, listened with amusement as Mayor O'Leary described Reyes' persistent questioning about projects in the South End. Reyes and former state representative Victor Cuevas were frequent visitors to the Mayor's Office to champion projects and recreational opportunities in the long-neglected South End.
Susan Pronovost's family and friends were out in force to support the Food Hub.
Father Jim Sullivan from the Immaculate Conception Church sprinkled water from the Jordan River around the property.
Brass City Harvest's Susan Pronovost, second from left, and the political muscle she need to get the project going; Geraldo Reyes, Joan Hartley and Neil O'Leary.