There have been many articles and many editorials over the years about the ongoing tension between the interests of business and the interests of conservation regarding Meriden’s Chauncey Peak. The most recent editorial, in November, praised the efforts of the Wallingford Land Trust to purchase 14 acres on Beseck Mountain that includes part of the Mattabesett Trail. The trail is also important atop Chauncey Peak, and there are those who fear its tenure there may be at risk.
That is not a new concern, but it is perhaps a concern that grows more anxious as the Suzio York Hill company brings its quarrying efforts ever closer. Last November also saw the rerouting of the Mattabesett, a detour of an indefinite time frame, because of quarry work. Company Vice President Ric Suzio has been consistant in saying major hiking trails will not be interfered with, but that has not assuaged some conservationists who have also been consistent with their worries.
Suzio York Hill can operate to within 50 feet of the peak. That is a worry. Meriden Conservation Commission Vice Chairman Eric Barbour told the Record-Journal the there’s a risk of unintentional damage, as well as of contaminating Bradley Hubbard Reservoir.
The story by the Record-Journal’s Ben Baker included some options under consideration by the commission. One, that involves changing Meriden laws, does not appear realistic. Another, using fundraising to buy the land from the company, does not appear likely since Suzio says it’s not for sale. Persuading the state to get involved with a grant request by comparison has more promise, but it still looks like a long shot.
David Rauch, commission secretary, said the commission should consider having the property evaluated in preparation for a grant request. “In Meriden, the only state owned property is a sliver of land...that’s probably really in Middlefield, not in Meriden, so we haven’t gotten state money that other communities have gotten,” he said. “So, to ask for our trap rock ridges to be made into state property seems to be a reasonable thing to do.”
As the editorial in November noted, preserving trails like the Mattebesett Trail remains a worthy endeavor. The Mattabesett is part of the New England National Scenic Trail system, covering 215 miles. Chauncey Peak helps illuminate the value of each of those connected miles.