The long-winded Tilcon Quarry project continued to spark conversation around own last week as officials voiced concern about the impacts to Southington if the Plainville company gets state approval to extend their quarry toward the Southington border.
Councilor Victoria Triano urged residents to attend an informational meeting hosted by Protect our Watersheds Connecticut, a local civic group from New Britain, Plainville, Southington and surrounding towns, so that they can learn about potential problems with the expansion project.
“The last thing we need is to have them dig further into Crescent Lake and ruin the habitat for the animals and vegetation,” Triano said during the Aug. 21 council meeting. “It is before the state, but there’s a group of citizens from Plainville, Southington, and New Britain who have joined together to do what we can to stop this from happening.”
Some council members voiced disappointment that they never officially voted on their position with the project. Last April, Town Manager Garry Brumback submitted a letter to state officials in favor of the project, but councilors said that he might not have had all the information at the time.
“That’s actually what’s on the record up in Hartford,” councilor John Barry said, “that Southington is in favor of this project.”
New Britain, Plainville, and Southington each have property that abuts the area that Tilcon wants to mine. The City of New Britain favors the project because they could gain another reservoir.
Southington officials supported the preliminary plan because Tilcon included a large open space parcel for Southington as part of the project, but that was early in the talks. As the mine approached the Southington border, Tilcon officials noted that mining sounds could impact Crescent Lake, so they offered more open space property as an offset.
Petition groups such as Protect Our Watersheds Connecticut are fighting the construction in hopes of preserving the natural area and urging legislators to back them. They held an informational meeting last Tuesday at the Southington Public Library where John Sokolowski, organization member and activist, presented.
While current legislation prohibits Tilcon from developing on the land in question, New Britain ordered a geological study to determine if the land could be used.
Mayor Erin Stewart’s chief of staff Jodi Latina said that a complete four-season study is in the process, as mandated by the state, to determine whether or not they can change the property classification and mine the area.
While Southington residents, staff, and elected officials are against the mining, New Britain pursued options to develop on the land.
From an environmental standpoint, we understand the concerns that all these folks have and rightfully so,” Latina said. “The environment is something that we all care about. This is not a done deal, and that’s what we’re trying to impress upon them.”
If the state determines that the area is developable, Tilcon will give New Britain another reservoir to add to their water company. Latina said New Britain’s central location and infrastructure would allow the water department to move water as far away as Burlington, down through New Britain and surrounding towns.
“There hasn’t been a new reservoir built in the state of Connecticut in 40 years,” she said, adding that Mayor Stewart took interest after last year’s drought drew concern in many locations.
During last week’s council meeting, Barry said that Tilcon’s mining could “dramatically change Crescent Lake” and affect people’s water wells. “There are so many unknowns,” said Barry.
He requested that councilors research the project and take an official stance on the issue, saying that they’ve never had a discussion or had experts come before them.
The topic is subject to the next meeting’s agenda.
To comment on this story, contact Observer editor John Goralski at JGoralski@SouthingtonObserver.com.