It’s tough to get anyone, anywhere, to agree on anything these days. And in Westport, a long-running, particularly thorny issue was the North Avenue water tank project.
Area residents worried about installation of big, tall tanks near their property, and traffic issues during construction across from Staples High School. On the other side: the need for upgraded facilities, plus Fire Department concerns about inadequate water supplies in town.
But town officials, Aquarion representatives, North Avenue neighbors and the state Public Utilities Regulatory Agency worked together to address water supply, public safety and construction concerns.
Today, the town and Aquarion announced that site preparation will begin Thursday (June 4), with the installation of erosion controls, temporary fencing and limited site clering.
The project itself includes construction of two water tanks (28 and 33 feet tall — lower than the original 40-foot plan); removal of an existing tank, and extensive landscape restoration. Sound dampening equipment will be installed. Work is expected to take 2 years.
Among the conditions of the settlement agreement is appointment of an ombudsman: former assistant town attorney Gail Kelly. She will act as a liaison between the neighbors, town officials and Aquarion, providing weekly construction updates to residents, and meeting with school and police personnel to insure minimal impact on North Avenue traffic. No road closures are planned.
In addition, an independent site monitor will ensure permit compliance.
Construction hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with pre-arranged extensions as required.
First Selectman Jim Marpe thanked all parties for their cooperation, along with state legislators Will Haskell, Tony Hwang, Gail Lavielle and Jonathan Steinberg.
Click here for construction status, work schedules and project updates.