The DEEP issued a press release Friday afternoon indicating that the stop-work order put into place on Oct. 26, 2015, will expire Monday and work on the project will restart.
By Ronni Newton
A press release was issued Friday afternoon by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) indicating that work on the flood control maintenance project in West Hartford as well as Newington and Hartford, that had been halted since Monday, Oct. 26, will begin again at 7 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 9.
The release was posted on the DEEP’s website and sent out to news media, but the Town of West Hartford also used its list serve to ensure that the message reaches as many residents as possible.
In the Horseshoe neighborhood, where residents were blindsided when the DEEP showed up on Oct. 26 and clearcut a large swath of land at the dead ends of Linbrook and Linnard roads, the Town took an additional step to ensure the message had been communicated.
“As soon as we blasted out the press release by email we started going door-to-door,” Mayor Scott Slifka said late Friday afternoon. He and Town Manager Ron Van Winkle targetted the Linbrook and Linnard area that has so far felt the greatest impact from the work, and where residents have been extremely vocal about the lack of proper information flow.
“We felt compelled to come down and talk in person,” Slifka said. He and Van Winkle met with residents in their homes and out on the sidewalks, and he said most seemed appreciative of the effort.
Slifka said that the DEEP’s “dropping a press release on Friday at 4 p.m. about work that will begin Monday doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.” He said that Town staff will be on site on Monday morning to observe and monitor the return to work.
DEEP officials held a public information session Wednesday night at the West Hartford Town Hall Auditorium. There were several heated exchanges during that three-hour session, with many expressing skepticism about how the project will be run going forward, and continued concern that trees that are not in the floodway or channel would be removed only for the sake of expediing the project.
According to the press release, “Any tree in West Harford within the floodway that is designated for removal to allow for access to the water channel or the drying of dredged material has been marked. Residents are encouraged to contact town officials or DEEP with any questions or concerns about these trees.”
Slifka said that none of the trees that remain in the Linbrook or Linnard area seem to have been marked, and he wants residents to be on the alert if they find any that have been marked with a large orange “X.” Van Winkle emailed the press release directly to residents who live closest to the “sediment staging area” at the end of Linbrook and Linard, with a message that said that “I do not have much more confidence in this process than you,” and asked that he be notified if “anyone sees activity that may suggest tree removal in the area.”
Linwold Drive resident Suzanne Kinard, who has been outspoken in requesting answers from both the DEEP and the Town of West Hartford regarding this project, said that Horseshoe neighborhood residents “are not going to go away” and will remain vigilant about the flood control work that is being done in their area as well as in other parts of town.
“I’m personally feeling encouraged by the stepping up of communication by the DEEP,” Kinard said. She said she is also happier about the way the town is getting involved, particularly by their move to send the press release out through the list serve. Director of Community Services Mark McGovern has now been assigned to be the point person from the Town for the neighborhood, Kinard said.
Kinard said she remains concerned, however, that people in other neighborhoods don’t think they will be impacted and won’t realize that they should be concerned until it’s too late. She was alarmed and saddened that only two residents from outside her neighborhood came to Wednesday night’s public information session, and said that she and her neighbors may concentrate their efforts on making sure others are aware.
“We stopped work on this project for two weeks to listen to the concerns of residents and to make any appropriate adjustments to our plans,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee in the release. “It is now time to hit the ‘restart’ button on this project so that critical maintenance work can get done to protect property and public safety in these three communities. Our staff and our contractor are committed to accomplishing this work with an eye toward minimizing impacts on resources and neighborhoods.”
According to the press release, work to resume Monday in West Hartford will include:
- Protection and securing of sediment staging area (Pond no. 5) on the end of Linbrook and Linnard roads.
- Finish mowing and log removal from area of Fern Street down to Farmington Avenue.
- Dredging in Pond no. 2 upstream of the Boulevard bridge.
Work crews will be onsite from 7 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. daily, the DEEP release said. However, trucking of material will only occur between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The DEEP has also stated that there will be a fulltime inspector to “ensure that all protocols and requirements are followed,” including inspection of areas where dredged material will be stockpiled.
All work, including “handling of all soils, traffic controls, street sweeping, and erosion and sedimentation controls” will be handled in accordance with an Environmental Protection Plan submitted by the contractor and available to the public on a special website www.ct.gov/deep/sbpr that the DEEP set up this week. According to the release, all updates about the project will be posted on that site.
Other additional steps that the DEEP stated it will now take to address concerns raised at the public information session and through speaking with residents and local officials include placing Jersey barriers at the ends of Linbrook and Linnard to prevent vehicle access to the cleared area.
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