Top stories of 2012; Taking a look at headlines of the year

Concern about this phosphorous issue have been persistent since 2009, when officials learned of the mandate, conceived by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but administered in Connecticut by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). In response to a previous mandate involving nitrogen, the town spent over $14 million construction a denitrification plant. Depending on the standards enforced by the EPA, the phosphorous treatment had the potential to be even more expensive.

In the early stages of addressing this, the council discussed the matter without knowing for sure what standards would be required. At the time, it was speculated that for about $50,000, the denitrification plant could be modified to treat phosphorous in addition to nitrogen. This would bring the phosphorous levels down to .7 milligrams per liter. However, the EPA is pushing for a stricter standard of .2 milligrams per liter.

The difference between .7 and .2 is substantial, and officials have previously said that a new building would be needed to meet this particular standard. Town Manager Garry Brumback said this outcome would cost the town $20-30 million in capital costs and about $500,000 each year afterward to maintain it.

Based on Brumback’s recommendations, the council voted earlier this year to allow Southington to enter into a coalition with other area towns and hire the services of a lobbyist to help with the ongoing efforts to reduce the impact of an environmental mandate concerning phosphorous in the Quinnipiac River.

The effort appears to have made some strides in the town’s favor since the potential deal on the table would allow the town to go forward with the cheaper .7 standard. The DEEP would issue Southington a permit that would be in effect for five years, and during this time the environmental agencies will research the phosphorous issue further to come to a conclusion on the final standard.

Expansion headaches

A planned expansion by the Southington YMCA has hit a historic speed bump.

A Planning & Zoning Commission public hearing about the YMCA’s proposed expansion earlier this month drew numerous residents concerned about the fate of a nearby historic house.

The expansion includes additions on two sides of the YMCA’s main building and an increase of about 30 parking spaces.

While preparing for the project, the YMCA purchased numerous adjacent properties on High Street and North Main Street, including the site of the Andrews/Olney House. When news broke that the YMCA planned to demolish the building, several historical organizations objected and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation successfully filed a court injunction to keep the house from being knocked down. The injunction runs through January.

While discussing the details of the expansion, the YMCA introduced two potential plans. If the YMCA had to build around the Olney House, it would reduce their planned additional parking by 12 spaces.

For the time being, zoning board members have to wait until the court makes a decision on the house’s fate before their conclusion about the matter has any authority.

The commission tabled their decision on the YMCA proposal, although this was not due to the Olney House controversy.

YMCA Executive Director John Myers said there had been progress on the Olney House issue, but that the organization was concerned about the ongoing uncertainty regarding the plans and timing of the project.

Local crowned Miss Teen USA

Connecticut, and Southington in particular, can now lay claim to another national celebrity. In August, at a competition held in the Bahamas, Logan West of Southington was crowned the 2012 Miss Teen USA.

West, who was competing as Miss Connecticut Teen USA, made it through the evening gown, on-stage interview, and swimsuit competitions during the two days of the pageant.

West is also a former Miss Southington’s Outstanding Teen.

Fire Chief investigated

Southington Fire Chief Harold “Buddy” Clark was investigated by the Southington Police Department and was examined internally by town hall officials for a confrontation that occurred with volunteer firefighter Steven Bull.

Neither investigation found Clark guilty of any wrongdoing.

The alleged altercation occurred between Clark and Bull shortly after a fire on Darling Street in June.

According to a police report, Bull stated that Chief Clark was acting unprofessional at the scene of the fire, was using profanity and had grabbed his right wrist, and would not let go, when taking back the firefighters accountability tag, which helps ensure that every firefighter is accounted for following a fire.

Bull then went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a wrist sprain, the report states.

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