EDITORIAL: Contamination is no reason to buy property

EDITORIAL: Contamination is no reason to buy property

Failing septic systems at two vacant homes in Berlin are contaminating Meriden’s water supply. Though the contamination has been mitigated by treating Kenmere Reservoir with chemicals, it’s not an ideal solution. That seems pretty straightforward. What’s getting complicated is the question of how to settle the problem for good.

The city water supply at Kenmere Reservoir is about two miles north of Meriden’s boundary with Berlin. The homes that are the source of the contamination are at 61 and 71 Kenmere Road. One solution is for the city to purchase the properties in order to be able to implement a more long-term solution. But there is something inherently unsettling about such a proposal because the city has no interest in the properties other than protecting the water supply.

This was not lost on a couple of city councilors who brought up major objections when the idea was floated at a recent meeting. The council was to vote to approve $165,000 to purchase and raze the vacant homes, but instead the issue was referred to the council’s Public Works Committee.

“There has been a leaking problem from the septic system on those two properties for a number of years,” observed Walter Shamock, of the We the People party. “Where was the city?”

An excellent question. Shamock did not see the sense in the city getting involved in “a bad situation here … it can be very expensive to pick up those tanks with contaminated soil.”

Democratic City Councilor Brian Daniels also wondered if there weren’t other options beyond the one recommended by outgoing Public Utilities Director Dennis Waz. “It just sounds odd that there aren’t all sorts of other remedies besides the city paying to buy a property that’s got a problem and the city fixing the problem when it seems like there should be all sorts of legal remedies,” he said.

Obviously, more investigation needs to be done before the city moves ahead with the recommendation to buy the properties. That should include learning why it took so long for the issue to be brought to the attention of the council as well as other options that might serve a more suitable solution.