On the surface it looks like a generous offer and not a bad deal, but there remains a general unease about Tilcon quarry expansion plans, and it’s the kind of unease that is a deal-breaker.
“We’re very cautious about this,” said Victoria Triano, a Republican town councilor from Southington. “I’m one that says, ‘leave it alone.’”
Tilcon has presented a mining proposal that includes donating 80 acres of land to Southington, part of preserving 275 acres of company-owned land that would stay open space in exchange for permission to quarry on land included in the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir. The open space in Southington is near Crescent Lake, but the lake is also where Southington officials are detecting a source of unease.
Town Water Department officials sent a letter to state officials that says the Tilcon plan could impact the town’s water supply.
Water from Crescent Lake is released to make up the difference when the Quinnipiac River flow drops. The quarry operation would alter the watershed and mean less runoff into Crescent Lake, which could in turn mean that the lake could not be relied upon to make up the difference.
The use of Crescent Lake, wrote Thomas Murphy, president of the Board of Water Commissioners, “is a vital resource to supply.” Murphy said the impact of the quarrying on the water supply was not considered in an environmental study released last year.
Tilcon officials have stressed that the quarry operations would be nearly a half-mile from the lake and would have no impact, but Southington officials remain wary.
“It sounds great at first blush,” said Dawn Miceli, council vice chairwoman, late last month. “There are some real concerns with this project … I don’t think this is to our advantage.”
The plan needs approval from the state legislature, and indications are that state lawmakers will take a cue from town officials.
“As far as I’m concerned, this is an issue affecting the Town of Southington and the local town government is going to make a decision on what is prudent for them,” said state Rep. Rob Sampson. “I’m going to take their guidance on whether this is right for them.”
It’s worth remembering that whenever water supply is involved caution should rule the day. Town officials are right to be careful and skeptical in considering a deal that just might not be right.