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Letter to the Editor: Protect the River and Look to Route 44 Site

October 26, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum No Comments

Letter to the Editor:

There are two issues which Canton residents have agreed on for many years.

The first, as shown by a town wide survey done in 2006 as part of the update to the Town Plan of Conservation and Development, is that the Farmington River is Canton’s most significant natural resource. In addition to being the major recreational asset it along with the bike trail is the chief economic driver for the Collinsville area.

The second is that the old highway garage needs to be replaced. It is no coincidence that the POCD calls for moving the garage off the river.

On Nov. 8 Canton voters will be asked to approve funding for a new highway garage on the existing site on the Farmington River. After reviewing the results of their flawed public survey which targeted that location as the only viable choice, the Board of Selectmen want to build in the floodplain.

Who would build your house in a flood plain?

The BOS plan is to have the garage one foot above the 100 year flood level. The State would require that any future expansion or upgrade to our sewage treatment plant just next to the site be constructed three feet above the 100 year flood elevation. They obviously don’t trust the scientific basis for the 100 year flood standard. When every municipality is hardening their infrastructure against flooding why wouldn’t we follow the State’s standards?

The new garage would not be accessible during a flood. Access to the fuel tanks for all first responders would not be possible.

The Permanent Municipal Building Committee is a non-partisan group of town residents appointed by the BOS for their architectural, engineering, facilities development, construction and legal expertise. They have overseen all major town capital projects such as school construction and development of the Library/Community Center. They have recommended against construction at the existing location.

Their reasons include the flooding problem, reduced size of the facility and the ability for future expansion.

The facility proposed by the BOS has been downsized to reduce cost. The PMBC has said that given the reduced size there are other possible, better locations for the new garage. The PMBC wants an opportunity to evaluate alternative locations. The BOS has rejected their request.

The BOS survey proposal for building at the existing site included a new all-weather access road which would eliminate the combined garage access road/bike trail and include recreational facilities and pubic river access. To reduce costs the proposal up for vote does not include either of these items. Anyone who had supported that survey option now has to feel like they have been exposed to the old “bait and switch”.

If we must build a cheaper downsized garage why don’t the BOS at no cost acquire for failure to pay property tax for over twenty years the Cadle property on Route 44 were Mitchell Volkswagen now resides? The BOS continues to point to the Barkhamsted garage as the perfect model because of its size and cost. But Barkhamsted did not build its garage in scenic Riverton or on the Farmington River. Their garage is on Route 44, so why shouldn’t ours be?

End this crazy proposal. Protect the River.  VOTE NO on the garage question on November 8th.

Dick Barlow 
Former First Selectman

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