Westporters know that this is a great community for music.
Now it’s official. The Westport Public Schools are officially a “Best Community for Music Education.” The designation comes from the NAMM Foundation — part of the National Association of Music Merchants.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because this is our 9th “Best Community” honor in a row.
The award is for school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. School officials answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs.
The schools benefit from partners like the Westport Library, Levitt Pavilion, PTAs, Westport Permanent Art Collections and Westport Arts Advisory Committee.
No word on whether there’s an official ceremony for the award. If so, there will be no shortage of entertainment.
Staples and middle school musicians work hard to put on good shows. (Photo/Inklings)
And speaking of the theater (again): The Westport Country Playhouse is still going strong. However, due to COVID, its 4 productions are online this year.
But the stage won’t be completely dark. Three cabaret performances will take place live. The special shows — music and comedy, with limited seating — are benefits for the storied theater.
On June 26, Brad Simmons and Tony Pinkins present Broadway favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.
Larry Owens’ “Sondheimia” (July 17) explores time, love and ambition through Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics.
Tony Award winner Ali Stroker shares songs from her repertoire on July 24.
Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday (May 14, noon). Click here for information and purchases.
Meanwhile, the Playhouse is partnering with the Connecticut Comedy Festival to present Michael Ian Black. The show is this Saturday (May 15, 7 p.m.) — and while it’s live, it’s outdoors. Attendees should bright chairs, to set up in the parking lot. Food will be available for purchase in the garden.
Black is remembered for the cult classic film “Wet Hot American Summer” and the Netflix series of the same name, as well as his work in the comedy troupe The State. Click here for tickets and more information.
The Westport Country Playhouse offers limited seating for this year’s cabarets.(Photo/Robert Benson)
Speaking of which: The Westport Garden Club’s plant sale is not the only place to ask questions.
This Monday (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), Wakeman Town Farm’s Pollinator Pathway talk offers a an opportunity to ask master gardeners: What to plant where? What’s eating my plants? How can I keep them happy?
Work on the Aquarion water tank opposite Staples High School is moving along. Earlier today, a huge concrete pour was captured by alert “06880” reader — who was probably stuck momentarily in traffic — Seth Schachter.
Staples High School Class of 2011 graduate (and swim team captain/musician) Margot Bruce is finishing up an MFA in cinema at San Francisco State University. Her thesis project is a film called “Harbor.” But she needs to raise $15,000 to make it.
Margot has launched an Indigogo campaign (click here). Click below for a short video, in which she explains the film’s intriguing themes.
Click below to see Margot’s first-year film. Filmed entirely underwater, it is a metaphor for grieving the loss of a loved one.
Do you know a person, business or organizations in Connecticut dedicated to environmental protection and sustainability?
Connecticut’s water utility wants to honor them, with an Aquarion Environmental Champion Award.
Winners will join previous honorees, including Sikorsky, Bigelow Tea, Pratt & Whitney, the Trust for Public Land and Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition.
Winners in the Adult, Non-Profit Organization, Large Business, Small Business, and Communications categories can select an environmental non-profit to receive a $2,500 grant. The winner of the Student category (grades 9-12) will receive a $1,000 award.
People with disabilities face many challenges. So do their siblings.
Abilis — the non-profit that helps hundreds of special needs families — holds a “Sibshops” workshop on May 19 (5 to 6:30 p.m., Zoom). It’s open to area children ages 10 to 14 whose brother or sister has a disability.
Sibshops are “high-spirited, fun workshops that combine recreation, discussion and information.” They provide safe spaces for siblings to share thoughts and feelings, while meeting others in similar circumstances and learning about the services their brother or sister receives. Click here to register. Questions? Email email@example.com.
Lauren Weisberger’s novel The Devil Wears Prada, offered a devastating view of fashion publishing. Her 6 books have sold over 13 million copies.
Her newest — Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty — goes on sale May 18. The night before (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), she’ll chat virtually with Westporter Jennifer Blankfein about her latest book, and the women — a TV anchor with everything, and her stay-at-home supermom sister — in it.
The conversation is sponsored by the Westport Library. Click here to register.
Dr. Stefanie Lemcke is a technology entrepreneur. She moved to Westport in 2012, and is an immediate neighbor to the Aquarion property. She, her husband Marc and several other Westporters started Smart Water Westport, to educate the community on water issues. She writes:
Aquarion is the only water provider in Westport. and many towns nearby.
Water prices are proposed by Aquarion, and set by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. As Westporters might suspect from watching their water bills, prices always go one direction: up.
Though Connecticut has plenty of water, only residents of Hawaii and Alaska pay more.
Over the past few years, Aquarion filed for a special permit to dismantle the existing water tank on North Avenue, and replace it with 2 much larger tanks that would quadruple the water storage capacity.
PURA members and protesters at the Aquarion North Avenue water tower site visit in 2018 …
At meetings and through petitions, residents requested lower height of the tanks. Neighbors formed Smart Water Westport to argue for better management of our water, and smaller tanks.
The group raised 2 main arguments:
The North Avenue property was not zoned for such a large facility in a residential neighborhood (according to town zoning, water tanks are only allowed in AA neighborhoods if they served the immediate neighborhood)
The amount of water wasn’t needed for our town. The population had not increased, so why would we need 4 times the storage capacity?
Our state senators and First Selectman Jim Marpe wrote to Aquarion, supporting our request to decrease the tanks’ size.
Danielle Dobin, now chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission, wrote a personal appeal to Aquarion’s CEO to reconsider construction in this location.
Aquarion countered that Westport indeed faced a water shortage: Water usage was skyrocketing, and the company had implemented an irrigation schedule here to save water.
The company even bought television ads to convince us that without these tanks, we would face a terrible shortage of water.
In the end, a settlement granted Aquarion the right to build the tanks at a reduced height of the roof. The total price tag: $10 million, and a 2-year construction period.
… and the current tank.
Curiously, almost immediately after winning approval to build the tanks in the middle of a residential neighborhood, Aquarion applied to divert water from the Westport system to lower Fairfield.
The amount is unbelievably high. The permit asks to divert more than 14 million gallons per day.
Aquarion is telling us that we have more than enough water in our region, and we can easily divert some to Darien, New Canaan and Greenwich. Aquarion even sells water to Westchester and New York City.
All the arguments for building the tanks are suddenly flipped. There will be no shortage. There is plenty of water here: The Westport wells are actually not for Westport, but for Lower Fairfield.
On average, more than 60 million gallons per day is available (a number the company did not disclose during the water tank hearings).
The town of Fairfield and environmental agencies have filed for intervenor status, asking Aquarion to be transparent with their analysis and reasons regarding the need for this substantial increase in the volume of water diversion, as well as its impact on water quality, the environment, water usage and conservation.
Watch your water bills. Refurbishing the old tank would have cost just $1.5 million. Now, customers are paying for more than $10 million.
To make matters worse, we are paying for water that is diverted elsewhere, and sold to New York City.
Please email our town and state representatives, and our local P&Z chair. Ask them to get involved in the diversion petition, and to question Aquarion’s practice.
Also, register for May 4 (3 p.m., Zoom): the last discussion around Aquarion’s water diversion permit. Every citizen should have a say in how one of our most prized assets is being used — and the price we pay for it.
A Sunday sunrise service is set for 6 a.m. at Compo Beach, between the cannons and the pavilion. It’s co-hosted by 4 churches: Saugatuck, Greens Farms and Norfield Congregational, and United Methodist. All participants are asked to please wear masks!
Also on Sunday, Saugatuck Congregational will hold a “drive-in” worship in the parking lot, at 10 a.m. The service — featuring live music, drama and Easter reflection — will be broadcast to car radios. Sit in the comfort of your car, or bring a beach chair and “tailgate.” The service will also be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. Click here for details.
And tomorrow (Good Friday, 11:30 a.m., Branson Hall), Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church will screen the choral piece “The Last 7 Words of the Unarmed.” It will be followed at noon by an intergenerational neighborhood walk. Following a liturgy of Stations of the Cross, it will focus on racial justice and reconciliation. Participants will make a small loop around downtown Westport, stopping at various locations to pray and reflect.
Easter sunrise service, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Rev. Alison Patton)
The Westport Youth Commission is one of our town’s great, under-the-radar groups.
Thirty members — 15 students, 15 adults, all appointed by the 1st selectman — meet monthly. They talk about teen needs, plan projects and programs, and (this is huge) provide high schoolers with a great experience in leadership.
Of course, every year members graduate. So the YAC is looking for students now in grades 8-11 (and adult members) to serve for the 2021-’22 school year. Freshmen join a special committee, before joining the board officially as sophomoes.
The appointment process includes an application, and at least one letter of recommendation. The deadline is May 14. Click here for the application. For more information, call 203-341-1155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aquarion has announced its 2021 mandatory sprinkler irrigation schedule.
They say: “The schedule helps conserve water supplies by reducing overwatering of lawns and gardens through a maximum 2 days per week schedule. The purpose is to ensure that local water supplies remain sufficient for critical needs such as human consumption and fire protection.
“Lawns and gardens can thrive on reduced watering. By encouraging roots to grow deeper into the soil, they’re able to absorb more moisture and nutrients, even during dry spells. Customers may continue using drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand-held watering at any time.”
The schedule begins today, and is based on the last digit of your street address.
If your address ends in an even number, or you have no numbered address, you can water only on Sundays and Wednesdays, from 12:01 a.m. to 10 a.m., or 6 p.m. to midnight.
If your address ends in an odd, number, you can water only on Saturdays and Tuesdays, same times as above.
For more information, click here. NOTE: Some residents may qualify for a variance. For example, if you’ve installed new plantings or sod in the spring, you arw allowed to water more frequently to help get plants established.
The Westport Library’s Verso Studios are certainly versatile.
Starting April 12 (7 p.m.), it’s the focus of a Video Production hybrid course. The instructor is the Library’s own Emmy Award winner, David Bibbey.
The first 4 sessions are virtual. The final 2 are in-person. Participants will learn how to use professional video and audio recording equipment, lighting, and live switching/recording/streaming equipment. Participants can also serve as live crew for video shoots.
High temperatures, low rainfall and high water demands have reduced reservoir levels.
Aquarion says that Westport customers — under a mandatory, twice-weekly irrigation schedule — are asked to continue reducing water usage by 20 percent.
If the last number of your address is even, you should water only on Sundays and Wednesdays, 12:01 a.m. to 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. to midnight. If the last number is odd, watering should take place Saturdays and Tuesdays (same times as above). If you have no street number, water Sundays and Wednesdays (as above).
Based on current water demands and expected rainfall, additional mandatory restrictions may be required in the coming weeks.
Aquarion offers these tips for efficient water usage:
Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn provides shade to the roots and helps retain soil moisture.
Reduce your sprinkler setting to 2 days per week. The grass roots will grow deeper and make your grass more drought tolerant.
Adjust your sprinklers so they water your lawn and garden, not the street or sidewalk.
Turn off your irrigation system; use hand watering or drip irrigation for shrubs and flowers.
Inspect your irrigation system for leaks, broken lines or blockage in the lines. A well-maintained system saves you money, water and time.
Turn off water while lathering, shaving, or brushing your teeth.
Minimize the amount of water you use for baths. Trim 1 minute off the length of your showers.
Wash only full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine.
Hand wash dishes in a pan or the sink, not under continuous running water.
Reuse dehumidifier water. or use a bucket to capture shower and bath water while you wait for it to warm up; use the water to water your plants.
Amy Smith knows education. A 2011 Staples High School graduate who taught 1st and 4th grades at Long Lots Elementary School — and the daughter of Bedford Middle School 6th grade science teacher Liz Smith — she and her mom created a company with a very modern mission.
Called My Covid Color, the aim is to keep students, families and educators safe during the return-to-school process.
Their My Covid Color wristbands come in red, yellow and green. The colors indicate the wearer’s comfort level for social distancing in public.
Red means you need others more than 6 feet away. Yellow means you need others 6 feet away, while green indicates you are comfortable with people being closer than 6 feet.
Of course, they’re not just for school. Anyone of any age can wear a wristband, anywhere in public. Click here for details, and purchase information.
“06880” gives My Covid Color an A+. And a gold star too.
Dog lovers, wag your tails: Leashed dogs are now allowed back at all Aspetuck Land Trust nature preserves (except those specifically reserved as wildlife refuges — click here for more information). NOTE:
Dogs must be leashed (except for certain off-leash areas).
Leashes must be 6 feet or less
Dogs must be reined in when approaching other people (and dogs), to prevent contact
Staples High School graduate Jonathan Kaner is now an economics major at the University of Michigan. He’s part of TAMID Group, which consults with Israeli startups. He was ready for an internship in Israel this summer. Then COVID struck.
In true entrepreneurial spirit, Jonathan and 2 friends — including Westporter Alex Reiner — started a clothing brand.
They’re already making high-quality hoodies, with unique features like holographic foil printing. In the works: t-shirts, sweatpants and shorts.
Jonathan’s company is Low Maintenance — that’s the name, and also the “loungewear meets streetwear” concept. Click here for products and more.
Low Maintenance: lookin’ good!
And finally … 51 years after its release, “Bad Moon Rising” sounds as apocalyptically apt as ever.
Yet despite its “voice of rage and ruin,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic also contains a classic misheard lyric: “There’s a bathroom on the right.”
That’s what John Fogerty sang — with a knowing wink — at the Levitt Pavilion a couple of years ago. He’s 75 now, and despite all those earthquakes and lightning, he’s made it to 2020 looking and sounding great.
Alert “06880” reader Scott Smith is an astute observer of the many wonders of Westport. Today he writes about the dams that “block the migration of fish and otherwise stymie the natural ecology of the 57,264-acre Saugatuck River Watershed — a rich network of 242 miles of waterways that discharge into the Saugatuck River and Long Island Sound.”
The topic came to mind after reading a New York Times story, “It’s Fish vs. Dams, and the Dams Are Winning.” The article noted efforts underway in Connecticut to eliminate obsolete dams from rivers that connect with Long Island Sound,
“Connecticut has about 4,000 dams,” said Stephen Gephard, a supervising fisheries biologist for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, “and the vast majority are obsolete.” The state owns about 100 dams and is reviewing the list to determine which should be removed. Gephard’s team has also identified 20 to 30 privately owned dams it would like to remove to allow fish passage.
That made me wonder if one of those dams under consideration of removal is the one on the Saugatuck that forms Lees Pond. It’s owned by the Westport Weston Family YMCA.
Enjoying the Saugatuck River, at Camp Mahackeno back in the day.
Lees Pond was long an integral part of Camp Mahackeno’s summer activities: swimming, rope swings, canoeing, even a floating pontoon.
In recent years, due to a confluence of factors – insurance, safety, the mythical fear of campers coming home covered by leeches – activities on the pond have greatly diminished.
Judging from the map of current renovations to the property, it doesn’t appear that Lees Pond factors much in that plan.
I wonder if Y leaders’ views of the pond have evolved over the years, and if as stewards of this vital stretch of the Saugatuck, they’d be interested in exploring options to unblock this key local natural resource (whose name literally means “river flowing out”).
I emailed Gephard, writing as a longtime resident of Westport who would like to see our local river rehabilitated as habitat for migratory fish. Of all our town’s jewels, especially natural ones, the Saugatuck seems the most underappreciated.
The river was once renowned for legendary runs of sea lamprey, alewife, blueback herring and American shad. In 1828 the Saugatuck Journal described as “the river of little fishes” because of the many smelt. Over time though, it’s been used and abused.
The Saugatuck River — shown here behind the Willows medical complex, near the Lees Pond dam — has been “used and abused,” says Scott Smith. (Photo/Danny Cohen)
Gephard’s response was impressively detailed, describing the status of dams on the Saugatuck from the head of the tide, just north of downtown, to the natural barrier at Devil’s Den.
He called the Saugatuck “a challenge….Dam 1 (at the head of tide) is the Wood Dam, owned by Aquarion. There is a steep-pass fishway, and we believe it is passing river herring.
“Dam 2 is Lees Pond. Removing this would be challenging. It is owned by the YMCA. Traditionally the Y has used the pond for recreational opportunities, though that may no longer be the case. Twice in the last 20 years, the Y has spent large amounts of money to repair the dam. Additional repairs may be needed. It is expensive to maintain such a tall dam in a heavily developed area.
One view of the Lees Pond dam …
“We own a fishway at the dam—or more accurately—in the dam. In fact, it is the oldest fishway in Connecticut. Back in the 1960s, the owner of the pond and dam drained the pond, created a large opening in the middle of the dam and began to mine gravel from the pond bed — without any permits.
“The state and town went after him. He divested himself of the dam, and the YMCA ended up as the owner. But the state got the right to build a fishway in the hole in the dam to close the dam, restore the pond and provide fish passage.
“The fishway is accessed by us via a catwalk through private property, and is not accessible to the public. As originally designed and built circa 1963, the fishway never worked and fell into disrepair.
“In the 1990s, I inherited the care of the facility. I used a grant to gut it and install a newer style fishway (steep-pass). It is still a little steeper than we would prefer (we had to use the space provided in 1963), but we feel it works for river herring and probably sea lamprey.
… and another.
“Dam 3 is Dorr’s Mill Pond at Glendenning. There are 2 fishways there, one at the spillway and one on a stream branch that weaves through Bridgewater’s office complex.
“The DEEP and Nature Conservancy built both, and they appear to be effective. Dam 4 is privately owned just upstream of Route 57. The owner did not allow us to build a fishway at the dam, but a natural channel bypasses the eastern side of the dam through someone else’s property. Many fish find it and circumvent the dam.
“Dam 5 is River Road Dam, immediately upstream of the River Road Bridge. It has a pool-and-weir fishway on private property, but it can be seen from the bridge.
“Dam 6 is the former Bradley Axe mill dam halfway up to Devil’s Glen and Trout Brook Valley. We had an agreement with the dam owner and spent considerable money designing a cool fishway for that dam. But the owner sold the house before it could be built, and the new owner did not want the fishway.
“The plans remain if the ownership ever changes. If fish get past that dam, they can reach Devil’s Glen, a natural chasm that historically stopped all fish.
Devil’s Glen, in Weston.
“Also, we worked with the Aspetuck Land Trust to have a fishway built on Trout Brook, on the Trout Brook Preserve. It does not pass anadromous fish, but helps brook trout move around and reach spawning habitat.” (NOTE: This is the only fishway accessible to the public.)
“Furthermore, the Aspetuck River joins the Saugatuck River just upstream of Dorr’s Mill Dam and Route 57. The North Avenue Dam, the first on it, has a simple pool and weir fishway. on private property.
“The second one, the Newman Dam, has a pool-and-weir fishway. It too, is on private property.
“The third dam, the Frankel Dam, was removed by a joint work team of DEEP crew and The Nature Conservancy. That allows anadromous fish to ascend as far as the next dam, a bit upstream of Bayberry.
“After that, there is a dam almost every 300 feet. We would entertain dam removals, but there are so many dams that the cost/benefit is low. We have not made it a priority.
“Farther upstream, we have worked with Aquarion to install a new gate at the Aspetuck Reservoir Dam in Easton. It allows mature silver-phase American eels to pass downstream, avoiding the entrance to the Hemlock Reservoir, which is a dead end for migrating eels. They all die in the treatment plant. These are the females heading out to sea to spawn, so diverting them down the Aspetuck where there are only small dams and no intakes is important.
Aspetuck Reservoir Dam.
“We have done a lot in this watershed, all in partnership with the Nature Conservancy. Fishways are not as good as a dam removal. With a good fishway, you get fish passage of the targeted species. With a dam removal, you get passage of all species plus many other ecological benefits that were outlined in the article, including lower water temperatures, natural stream habitat, natural sediment transport, etc.
“But in Connecticut, many dams are valued, often as aesthetic features in people’s backyards. We cannot force them to remove their dams. All of the work described above was voluntary (except for the Wood Dam, where the fishway was a condition of a permit that Aquarion needed from the DEEP to repair the dam).
“Our first choice is always dam removal. If owners don’t go for that, we fall back on fishways. Often, that works (we get grants and the fishways don’t cost dam owners anything) and sometimes it doesn’t (like in the case of dam 4).
“We do the best we can. When we first began on the Saugatuck, sea-run brown trout were a main targeted species, along with alewife and blueback herring. Since then we have added sea lamprey and American eel (separate passes). Sadly, the reports of sea-run brown trout are on the decline, likely a victim of climate change and the warming of Long Island Sound, and the Saugatuck River no longer hosts a significant run of brown trout.”
This morning, “06880” reader Robert Harrington criticized 1st selectman Jim Marpe and other town leaders for their actions during the Aquarion/North Avenue water tower debate. The 1st selectman responds:
Thank you for the opportunity to address Mr. Harrington’s concerns and accusations. I will try to clarify certain facts and misstatements, as well as explain how my staff and I have willingly assisted a group of residents who abut Aquarion’s property on North Avenue. I have remained sympathetic with their concerns regarding quality of life and property values, and have sought to mitigate the impacts that this vital infrastructure project may have on them.
The town attorney, operations director, director of public works, fire chief, fire marshal, tree warden, other staff, volunteers and I have devoted hundreds of hours over the past year and a half researching and mediating toward a solution that would help the neighbors, and at the same time address the water supply needs of the entire community. I personally have taken the following actions:
led public and work group meetings;
facilitated communications between Aquarion and the neighbors;
advocated for a peer review paid for by Aquarion;
dedicated my staff’s time;
enlisted experienced resident volunteers to assist with mediation;
remained non-partisan and neutral with the goal of compromise; and
wrote several letters to PURA on behalf of the residents.
These are tangible services that I believe speak volumes over appearing at a single public regulatory hearing to make a statement. I appreciate the state legislators’ ongoing efforts to help, but my office and several dedicated town employees have been consistently involved in trying to reach an acceptable solution. The positions that I have taken are not just advocacy. They also reflect a careful weighting of all the options and their outcomes, as well as the benefits to the greater good of all Westporters.
The town stayed involved in this process and conveyed to Aquarion the importance of:
finding a way to lower the height by eliminating the dome;
increasing the landscaping;
managing the traffic and disruption; and
expediting the water main upgrade.
Had we not stayed involved, Aquarion would never have agreed to the most recent settlement offer. They also would never have agreed to the peer review. It is clear that my pressure on Aquarion led to the agreement on several concessions.
In advance of the public hearings in New Britain, I submitted a detailed letter to PURA with very specific requests. Furthermore, while I remained in Westport to address other town-related issues, at my behest and with my full confidence the town Attorney and operations director attended the hearings held in November and January. PURA requested that the fire marshal and public works director testify. That totals 4 senior town representatives involved with 2 hearings in New Britain.
Public works director Mr. Ratkiewich is a dedicated 29-year town employee who has no affiliation with Aquarion. He was requested by PURA to testify under oath and responded to specific questions on a factual basis. This testimony, along with that of our fire marshal and Mr. Harrington, are all available for the public to review. I am confident that upon review of the public proceedings, no one would describe Mr. Ratkiewich’s tone and commentary as anything but professional and forthright. I will not accept attacks on, and I will always defend, our town staff when they are inappropriately accused.
It is easy to say that a tank should go “here” or “there” as an alternative, but Mr. Harrington fails to mention the related costs and potential disruption to our town. Also, he doesn’t point out that his proposed alternate sites include the entrance to the Bedford Middle School property and a location in another residential zone. If PURA believes that these locations or other alternatives should be pursued, then I’ll direct the efforts of our town staff accordingly.
We know that the water main upgrades in Westport have been on Aquarion’s capital plan. Aquarion offered to accelerate them in order to come to a compromise. The town remains skeptical that Aquarion has the ability to complete the work within the accelerated timeframe, which is why the tank construction is vital to our water supply infrastructure.
We have gone above and beyond to assist. I am proud of the compromises the neighbors and the town have accomplished during negotiations with Aquarion. In fact, the final settlement agreement was close to acceptance by both parties until the fire marshal would not agree to further lower the height of the tanks because of the impact on fire flow. Since I trust his expertise and experience, I removed the additional lower height provision from my request to PURA. I agreed that the town should not reduce the fire flow improvements that we are receiving from this project. At that point, several residents split apart because many were ready to settle. Mr. Harrington now represents a smaller fraction of the impacted homes.
Last fall, PURA members — and a few protesters — toured the Aquarion North Avenue water tower site.
Despite all the time, energy, costs and effort that my staff and I have dedicated in the mediation process, the neighbors were not able to reach a settlement with Aquarion. That is why PURA, the regulatory authority tasked with oversight of Aquarion, has become the forum to address the issues. The proposal to allow Aquarion to build one tank while a second site location is found is best left for PURA to decide.
In conclusion, I stand by the efforts of the town as well as my leadership. Other local challenges also require my time and attention, including the rehabilitation of Coleytown Middle School and finalizing the town’s operating budget. Nevertheless, the North Avenue water tanks remain an important issue for the town. As such, our staff and I will continue to be involved as appropriate, and if we believe it can bring us to a settlement that all parties can accept.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to state the facts and provide my support of the town’s dedicated employees.
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