Peter J. Swift has lived in Westport since 1997. A master mariner, he spent 25 years at sea — including command of supertankers and liquefied natural gas ships.
He then spent over 25 years in senior shore management in international shipping, and his own maritime consultancy.
Peter is involved in international maritime charities. He is also a member of the Westport Community Gardens and Long Lots Preserve, and president of the Harvest Commons Condominium Association. He writes:
There has been a lot of “water under the bridge” on the Long Lots School rebuild. Here are my observations, after speaking with local residents, civil engineers and architects., and attending many Long Lots School Building Committee meetings.
This is a much broader issue than Long Lots School.
This serious problem affects all of Westport. 34% of all properties in Westport have a 26% chance of being seriously impacted by flooding.
We love our wet and rocky town. Yet brooks and watersheds, combined with rock, is a fact we have to plan for.
Obviously, some areas need special attention. The area from Long Lots Elementary School to Long Island Sound along Muddy Brook is a very serious one.
Here are a few examples.
When the lower ball field was constructed, despite engineering calculations to the contrary, considerable water ingress into Muddy Brook was experienced by neighbors.
During a 3-year delayed construction on a neighboring road, considerable increase of surface water was noted by neighbors .
Retention basins were added only after construction.
Peter Swift says, “the site is flooded because retention basin’s were put in after construction was delayed for years. Neighbors at lower elevations are left to manage storm water overflow.”
There is still concern whether this works, because it was designed only for a 25-year storm.
Recent drainage and sewer work in areas near Long Lots School revealed underwater streams, with a flow that should not be disturbed.
It’s no surprised this was once good farm land. There was water all around.
Neighbors near Long Lots report that their sump pumps run constantly. Some have 2, both running constantly.
The Long Lots retention pond often overflows the dry stone wall, which marks the boundary of Long Lots Elementary School …
Because big houses are being constructed on plots that had smaller houses, the 25-year storm standard does not work. It must be improved.
I understand that the standard planning is for each construction to retain on site the estimated water run off for a 25-year storm. There are many instances in town where this has proved to be inadequate.
In turn stressing Muddy Brook as it runs downstream to Long Island Sound. (Photos courtesy of Peter Swift)
Can Westport not consider a higher standard, especially for large taxpayer funded projects?
We all live in Westport, and pay taxes. Even if we do not us our education system, we love and support it.
Why is there such a rush to get spades in the ground within a year ?
The school is 50 years old, and has had many extensions. Let’s get this right.
Can we not allow our professional engineers time to study this before decisions are made?
Not give them a decision to work with. The cart is before the horse.
This would allow more detailed study of the long-term problems of building on ball fields and community gardens which absorb surface water, and include wetlands.
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