There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
But a few homeowners inside Longshore Club Park enjoy free water.
I heard recently that the town — not individual property owners — inside Longshore paid certain water bills.
(If you don’t know — and not many people do — there are 3 roads, with a dozen or so homes, within Longshore. Vista Terrace, Waterside Terrace and Glen Drive form a semicircle. These beautiful, hidden lanes start near the 2nd tee, at the entrance road bend, and exit into the parking lot near the Parks & Recreation Department office.
(Rumor has it that when the town of Westport bought the property from a failing country club in 1960, they had no idea they were also buying the roads. It was not until after the closing, when 1st Selectman Herb Baldwin and his staff walked the land, that they realized exactly what they owned.)
I asked Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich about the arrangement. He says:
“When Longshore was purchased, there was one meter for the entire property, by the Compo South entrance.
“The water line into the park was actually a private main line. That remains the condition today.
“The meter was installed presumably when there was only one owner of the property, prior to the town purchasing it. Our understanding is that the owner periodically sold off lots within the property prior to the town’s purchase, perhaps to make ends meet.
“When the owner sold off lots, they simply extended laterals from their privately owned water main to the houses that were developed, but did not meter those laterals. When the town bought the property, it also bought the water system in it’s existing configuration .
“There is a compelling reason that the owner probably did not want to meter the new laterals. In Connecticut, if you own a private water main and then sell the water that comes from the private main, you become a water company, and are subject to regulation by the regulatory authority. If you give away the water for free, then you are not a water company.
“The only way to avoid becoming a water company would be to extend a new main from Compo South, before the meter, in to the individual properties that are getting unmetered water.
“This was an expensive proposition in the 1960s. It remains expensive today — way more expensive than paying for the unmetered water. It is probably the reason the former owner did not do it, and it is the reason the town hasn’t done it to date.
“At some point however, the town will have to replace the existing water main. When that happens, the town main will be separated and a new Aquarion main will be extended to the private residences. Those residents getting unmetered water will then be connected to a metered lateral.”
Right now, Ratkiewich says, 5 or residences get unmetered water off the town main. How’s that for a selling point! (Even better for them: An aerial view of the roads shows several with swimming pools.)
Three more are on private wells. The cabins and Inn at Longshore are all fed off the town main too. However, the cost of water is built into their rent,