SOUTHINGTON - Tilcon President Gary Wall addressed the Town Council Monday, hoping to convince members that the company’s proposal to relocate its quarry is a win-win. However, not all members of the council and water department appeared to be won over.
The council had previously heard from the Protect Our Watersheds CT group, led by Attorney Paul Zagorsky, which opposes the plan. Monday, Wall made his case in favor.
He presented a brief slideshow with maps of the area and tried to answer some concerns.
Tilcon hopes to relocate quarry operations onto aquifer land belonging to the New Britain Water Department. The plan includes creating a forested buffer around the new site and quarrying for 40 years before remediating the site and creating a reservoir. In exchange, Tilcon would provide 171 acres of open space to Plainville, 75 to Southington and 41 to New Britain.
“For every acre we’d use we’d give up four acres of open space,” said Wall, who noted that the scope of the project has been reduced since it was originally proposed. “There will be no impact to Crescent Lake. The lake will be enhanced by the additional open space and we will be quarrying above the aquifer; it is below the rock we’d mine.”
Opponents of the plan have argued that if Tilcon moves its operations onto protected land, it would be destructive to the environment and to the animals that live there. They have also argued that approving the plan would lead to the development of other previously protected areas.
Councilors Victoria Triano, Dawn Miceli and Tom Lombardi spoke against the plan.
“I’ve read over the environmental studies and there are some very huge concerns,” said Triano. “Four vernal pools will be lost and three will see significant hydration changes, not to mention the wiping out of certain animal populations and trees. I’m very cautious about this and I’m one of the ones that says ‘leave it alone.’”
Miceli noted that she has attended every meeting held by opposition to the plan in town. This was the first time she had heard from Tilcon officials directly.
“It sounds great at first blush but below the surface there are some real concerns,” she said. “It’s not just about today; I don’t think this proposal is for us.”
Miceli encouraged residents to read the environmental study released in May by Lenard Engineering on the proposal. She also encouraged them to reach out to local legislators.
Lombardi said that the proposed donation of open space land doesn’t win him over. He argued that the land would remain the same regardless and could not be developed anyway.
Members of the local Water Department also spoke to the council, stating their strong opposition.
“Creacent Lake is less than a mile from the proposed Tilcon site,” said Bob Berkmoes, of the Water Department. “It is spring fed and gets a significant portion of its recharge from water moving very slowly through the bedrock. 44 percent of our water supply comes from well number nine and it is important that it suffers no adverse effects. We need to be able to supply water to our citizens and our fire department.”
Berkmoes said Southington gets 85 percent of its water from its wells.
“This is the future of Crescent Lake, the future of the Water Department and the future of the State of Connecticut,” he said. “Rock is rock and water is water. We can’t live without water.”
The Council Meeting also saw numerous members of the “Save Bradley” group fill the seats of the public hearing room. Group leader Bonnie Sica and several members reiterated to the council their desire to keep emergency services at the Bradley Campus of the Hospital of Central Connecticut and their fears that
Hospital owners Hartford HealthCare would remove them.
Hartford HealthCare officials have stated that no decisions regarding emergency services at Bradley have been made yet. However, they have expressed concerns to the council that Bradley’s emergency department isn’t being heavily used and that heathcare services could be delivered more optimally.
These remarks came after press deadline.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.