December 17, 2013 12:29AM
By Andrew Ragali
WALLINGFORD — The town-owned Garden Road property was heavily used for snow disposal last winter as the state received record snowfall. But state Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, is asking that local officials find a new snow disposal area because the Garden Road site creates issues for neighbors and presents environmental concerns for the Quinnipiac River.
Mushinsky wrote a letter to Public Works Director Henry McCully on Dec. 5. She states that condominium residents adjacent to Garden Road are concerned about truck traffic created by dumping snow on Garden Road. Also, Mushinsky said, the location is unsuitable because of its proximity to the river.
“I fully realize the difficulty in moving the snow disposal site, and I know you don’t need another task on your to-do list,” Mushinsky said. “However, I must request the town move the current snow disposal site due to negative impact on the neighbors and likely impairment of the river with street contaminants.”
As of Monday, Mushinsky said, she had yet to receive a response from the town, “although I’m sure I will.”
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said Monday that the town is looking at other sites to handle snow disposal, but “we can’t promise” that Garden Road will not be used again.
“Our primary duty is to provide for public safety,” he said. “Just about any place we take the snow we get complaints.”
According to Mushinsky, owners of a neighboring property said they would never have bought their home if they had known about the truck traffic.
“It’s a disturbance in an otherwise peaceful residential neighborhood,” Mushinsky said of truck traffic.
The Public Works Department attempts to be as effective and efficient as possible when disposing of snow, Dickinson said. “We do our best to accommodate everything,” he said. “But we can’t promise we won’t use any given site available to us.”
Besides sending McCully a letter, Mushinsky attached a copy of best management practices for snow disposal as stipulated by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The agency recommends that snow from roadways be placed in upland areas. Also, the agency recommends that care be taken not to place snow on stream or river banks where sand and debris can get into the watercourse. Wetlands, catch basins and areas within 100 feet of public drinking water supply are also to be avoided. In extraordinary conditions, the agency is more flexible, allowing snow to be placed in waterways if all other options are exhausted. But there are still guidelines to follow, and the activity must comply with local laws and requirements.
The Garden Road property once had residential homes on it, but the town bought out the homes due to flooding concerns. The Quinnipiac River periodically floods in that area, Mushinsky said. “Sites that are occasionally flooded are not the best disposal sites.”
If the site can’t be moved, hay barriers or berms should be put into place to prevent sediment from draining into the river, she said.
In response, Dickinson said, hay bales wouldn’t do the job, and keeping roadways safe takes precedence
“I don’t know, I think the cities are dumping pollutants into the waters,” Dickinson said. “There are practicalities that have to override all of these ... these are fine and wonderful pronouncements, but ultimately work has to be done.”
“You can’t win, it’s called,” Dickinson added. “I understand everyone would like things to be pristine. We do our best to provide for that.”
Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback and Cheshire Town Manager Michael Milone said Monday that they will continue to use the same snow disposal areas they’ve used in past years. Southington uses a property on East Street, while Cheshire takes advantage of Bartlem Park.
Meriden is moving its snow disposal area due to construction set to begin this winter at the downtown Hub site, said Public Works Director Robert Bass. Last year, massive piles of snow could be seen at the Hub after the February blizzard. But from now on, Bass said, snow will be stored in a parking lot at the corner of Center Street and Miller Street. The second option, he said, will be at the softball complex on Thorpe Avenue. There’s no third location in mind yet, he said, but if the need arises, “we’ll come up with a whole other game plan.”
“I’m doing a lot of praying that we don’t get a lot of snow,” Bass said.