SOUTHINGTON - As the engineering consultant hired by the city of New Britain continues to study the environmental impact of a Tilcon mining proposal near Bradley Mountain, opponents plan a presentation on what they say the area has to lose if the plan is approved.
Protect Our Watersheds CT, a group formed after the proposal came to light in 2016, will host “What’s At Stake?,” a discussion and presentation on the ecological impacts of the proposal, at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Southington Library.
Under the plan, Tilcon would mine 131 acres of New Britain-owned Class I and Class II protected watershed land off Woodford Avenue in Plainville for 40 to 50 years before returning the parcel to New Britain as a reservoir that could potentially increase the city’s water supply.
The legislature must vote to approve a change of use for the land in order for Tilcon to mine the property. Opponents are concerned that if the proposal is approved by the General Assembly, Class I and Class II watersheds throughout the state would be imperiled.
“It’s not a question of the impact on a change of use, we know what that is - the permanent and total destruction of that watershed and everything that grows there, lives there, natural land resources and formations, streams, vernal pools, wetlands, etc,” said lawyer Paul Zagorsky, a founding member of Protect Our Watersheds CT who has vigorously opposed the plan from the start. “Not to mention the loss of water produced by that watershed which feeds into the West Canal and ultimately into the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir, which is the water we drink.”
The quarry would come within 1,000 feet of Crescent Lake and destroy a portion of the blue trail on Crescent Mountain, Zagorsky said.
Speakers during the presentation will include John Sokolowsky, an area resident who enjoys hiking on Bradley Mountain. The discussion is designed to show people what would be lost forever if the mining were to be allowed, Zagorsky said.
The proposal has been hotly contested by environmental groups and area residents who fought a similar plan that died in 2008.
The firm hired by the city, the Glastonbury-based Lenard Engineering, has been conducting an environmental study of the area that includes the potential impacts since last year. Their original proposal for 15-week study was nixed by two state agencies that deal with water and environmental issues as being too short. The city can’t move forward with the plan, which includes getting it before the state legislature for a vote, until the study is completed and reviewed by the state Water Planning Council and the Council on Environmental Quality.
The two agencies will receive the final report at the same time as the city, Mayor Erin Stewart said Friday. Stewart requested a change in the scope of the study that previously allowed the city to review the report first in order to preserve transparency. “We wanted to send a clear message that the city is going to get the report at the same time as everyone else so that there is no question as to whether or not it was altered,” Stewart said.
Lenard is scheduled to complete the study by late fall.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.