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Wallingford trail work expected to start in April 

Wallingford trail work expected to start in April 

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Construction of a paved trail from the Senior Center on Washington Street to the Community Lake area is expected to begin in April.

Trail construction will be rolled into streetscape improvements along Hall Avenue.

At a Town Council meeting Tuesday, Town Engineer Rob Baltramaitis said that the total project cost, including contingencies, is estimated at $1.7 million, 80 percent of which is slated to be reimbursed through a federal grant.

The town will pay the remaining 20 percent of costs, estimated to be $300,000.

“We anticipate beginning (construction) by April 1,” Baltramaitis said in a memo to Town Comptroller Jim Bowes.

The Town Council accepted a $45,000 donation from Eversource Energy on Tuesday, made under a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection consent order after PCB pollution was discovered at the utility’s Berlin headquarters.

The donation reduces the town share of the trail project costs to about $255,000, Baltramaitis said.

Past plans were to connect the senior center to the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail by going either up Oak Street or behind White Way dry cleaners onto the Hall Avenue sidewalk.

“Ultimately, we’d like to have a trail that goes all the way around,” Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said Tuesday.

The sole dissenting vote on accepting the Eversource donation was Councilor John LeTourneau.

He said he votes against anything having to do with the linear trail, which he sees as “a terrible waste of money.”

He said it was a mistake for Dickinson to tie the Hall Avenue streetscape improvements in with the senior center trail. He also said he was worried about the federal money not coming through to reimburse the town for the trail project, and about the future costs associated with linear trail maintenance.

Eversource made the donation in addition to paying environmental penalties to DEEP, according to a consent order from December 2018.

In October 2012, Eversource notified DEEP of contamination in a stormwater settlement basin after the company documented PCBs at up to 550 parts per million earlier that year.

In September 2015, the company submitted a cleanup plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that documented PCBs in sediments at up to 770 parts per million.

For polluting state waters, DEEP issued a civil penalty of $70,000, payable in $25,000 to DEEP and $45,000 to Wallingford’s recreational trail as a supplemental environmental project.

Mitch Gross, Eversource Connecticut spokesperson, said Tuesday that the company is “happy to support these community projects in Wallingford.”

“We have already put into place aggressive cleanup procedures, as DEEP has acknowledged,” Gross said, “and are committed to making sure these types of incidents do not happen again.”

Baltramaitis was approached by Eversource about a cash donation for a town project, which he saw as “an opportunity to offset our town share of the (trail) project.”

Twitter: @LCTakores