PLAINVILLE - Town government faced several issues in 2017, including hard water, a proposed dog park and plans to close a gap in the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.
Early in the year, Town Manager Robert E. Lee began receiving complaints from residents about an unusual taste or odor in their water. Others complained of water causing damage to their plumbing.
Lee contacted Valley Water Co., which provides Plainville’s water, the Department of Public Health and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.
Tests were conducted conducted in 32 buildings, concluding that the met state and federal standards but was “very hard.” Hard water can cause a metallic taste or odor due to the presence of naturally occurring calcium and magnesium.
According to the World Health Organization, hard water has no negative health impact. Calcium and magnesium are essential parts of the human diet, and the amount found in the samples would only add a small amount to what people typically consume.
The next step is for Valley Water to evaluate techniques for softening water while keeping customers informed.
Plainville dog park
In August, the Dog Park Committee collected more than 300 petition signatures from residents supporting the creation of a 1-acre, off-leash dog park at the end of Norton Place Extension.
The proposed park has two sections, one for larger dogs, and the other for smaller or more timid dogs.
Some resident who would be neighbors of the proposed park were unhappy with the plans. Danielle and Ray Roux said in September that they live next door to the proposed park and their home is visible through the trees surrounding it. Blocking this view with a fence, they say, is “not nearly enough” to mitigate their concerns over privacy and noise.
A public hearing will be held on the proposed dog park on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Plainville Municipal Center.
Another issue, which has raised the concerns of some residents is the proposal to close the Plainville gap in the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail bike path.
A steering committee met regularly to discuss proposed routes and arrived at a preliminary preferred alignment, also known as Alignment C.
Initially, Alignment C was proposed to connect to Tomasso Nature Park and Perron Road, but that is no longer the case. The route is now intended to travel down the western edge of Carling Technologies’ property. The changes were made after resident feedback, and are intended to reduce right-of-way issues and environmental impact. The current Alignment C trail is 5.3 miles long, running from Pierce Street to Norton Park. It ranges from 10 to 12 feet wide and 98 percent off-road.
Residents have cited concerns about loss of privacy, a potential loss of property values, potential environmental impacts, impacts to a historic Mule Haul Trail and worries that it could bring increased crime. At a recent Town Council meeting, the town manager read a letter by Planning and Economic Development Director Mark Devoe addressing the concerns.
Devoe said that while there may be some environmental impact, the design would “make every effort to mitigate them along every foot of the proposed trail.”
As for floodplain impact, Devoe said that the trail would be considered a recreational platform and not a building and would therefore be permitted within floodplains when designed and engineered correctly.
Devoe also said that he contacted the State Historic Preservation Office regarding the old Mule Haul Trail that runs behind houses on Hollyberry Lane. The office said that there no significant concerns ahd been raised about the current trail proposal.
Devoe stated in his memo that the first and foremost concern of the trail design is safety.
“Appropriate design can make an effective and sometimes stark improvement to the appearance of the street,” said Town Manager Robert E. Lee. “Further, with respect to Pierce Street, Town of Plainville representatives have repeatedly stated that there are no plans to make this road into a one way street.”
Finally, Devoe stressed that the current trail plan is only conceptual at this time. He said that the concerns that have been raised are “pre-mature” and that the final design will be chosen “based upon how it best marries safety with aesthetics.” It is the purpose of the design phase, not the current planning phase, to ensure that measures to mitigate or remove impacts are implemented.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.