FAIRFIELD — An idea to build a road to a land-locked commercial area straddling the Fairfield-Waterville municipal boundary is beginning to take shape, after floating around for more than two decades.

Landowner Doug Cutchin, a former executive at Sheridan Corp., a construction company, plans to donate rights of way through the parcel to both communities, with the intention of building a road that would connect Industrial Drive in Fairfield to Industrial Street in Waterville. Road construction could cost an estimated $1 million.

The two roads run parallel to Interstate 95, but they dead-end in their respective communities. On the Waterville side the road ends at the Waterville Elks Lodge, and on the Fairfield side the road ends at the Richard McGee Athletic Complex.

That leaves the land in the middle, much of which Cutchin owns, inaccessible for business development.

A connecting road would fix that, but Cutchin acknowledges that building the road is a long-term vision, and there is no detailed proposal on the table to put the connection in place.

In the near term, he intends to move forward to expand Industrial Drive on Fairfield side. At a Town Council meeting earlier this month, Cutchin presented plans detailing the proposed road and his intention to donate another 10 acres in the area to expand town-owned sports fields.

The road idea has been around for at least 20 years, Cutchin said, but he just started putting together real plans over the last three years.

“I decided to wake up and be proactive,” Cutchin said, standing on the dead end road in Fairfield on Friday. He pointed to a densely wooded parcel beyond the baseball fields at the end of the road, indicating where the extension is intended to go. Power lines run through the property, and it is crossed by informal all-terrain vehicle trails.

Including the land along Industrial Drive already cleared for development, there are 134 acres of commercial real estate on the Fairfield parcel, leading up to the Waterville line.

“This is one of the areas we’re hoping to see development,” Fairfield Town Manager Joshua Reny said.

The area in question already is zoned for commercial development and can be linked to sewer, power and gas lines easily, he added.

The proposed road also would run through the tax increment financing district set up by the town to encourage business growth. The TIF was amended in 2014 to include all the land alongside Industrial Drive and the proposed extension. New tax revenue from development within the TIF can be used to pay for infrastructure, including the proposed road, Reny added.

Building the road probably would happen in phases, as new commercial developments set up in the existing TIF district, generating revenue to finance incremental extensions, unless a substantial commercial project emerges, Reny said.

“I don’t know of any development at this time that’s going to make that happen,” Reny said.

Meanwhile, Cutchin intends to donate up to 10 acres to the town for an expansion of sports fields managed by the Fairfield Police Athletic League. Plans haven’t been finalized for that project, but Reny said it could require using town money to extend the road to reach the new space. Depending on how the project shapes up, it might be brought to voters for approval, Reny said.

However, the plans in Waterville haven’t matured the way they have in neighboring Fairfield.

There are no immediate proposals to develop the Waterville property, and Cutchin has not brought a plan forward for consideration, Waterville City Manager Michael Roy said.

The land on the Waterville side is zoned for commercial use, but it doesn’t have a TIF district. Roy said plans for connecting the two roads have been around since before he became city manager 10 years ago, but they never got any further than informal conversations.

“There was always talk about ‘Gee, wouldn’t that be nice?'” Roy said.

While Cutchin intends to pursue the Waterville road connection, it probably will take more time than the Fairfield piece, he acknowledged.

The fact that he already owns several parcels of land along Industrial Drive that still haven’t been developed has been “disappointing” to Cutchin.

“But I haven’t really pushed it,” he said, looking at the empty lots. He’s started actively marketing the spaces through a real estate agent only in the past few years.

But as he has gotten older, he’s been motivated to get to work on projects that he has been thinking about but not acting on. He said he hopes that by taking a proactive stance, he can help attract new companies to an area that is desperate for new jobs and economic growth.

“I’ve spent 25 years watching us actively contract,” Cutchin said. “I think it’s time to reverse that.”

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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