To the Editor:
At a recent Council of Environmental Quality meeting, which has oversight along with the Water Planning Council of the independent environmental study on the impact of Tilcon’s proposal to quarry 131 acres of protected watershed, an issue was raised about Lenard Engineering Inc.’s statement at the meeting that before it releases the study, it would be presented to New Britain for comment.
In a Dec. 19, 2007 Formal Opinion (2007-034), then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal addressed the question of an “independent third party evaluation under Public Act 07-05.” That act (which was repealed) is similar to Public Act 16-61 in dealing with an independent environmental study on the protected watershed. The opinion stated: “If an environmental evaluator is selected by entities who stand to benefit financially from an evaluation, the independence of the evaluator is compromised,” and “Because a land lease would financially benefit both the City of New Britain and Tilcon, neither entity can be involved in the selection of an “independent” third party evaluator.”
The lead study consultant for LEI who has done work for the city since the 1990s, in communications with Tilcon’s president stated he’s looking forward to “working with you on this project,” and to “getting this fast-paced project underway.” That the kickoff meeting to “discuss the quarry project” (LEI’s words) was hosted by Tilcon’s president and four senior Tilcon personnel, with the study sub-contractors, Mayor Erin Stewart, Gil Bligh of the Water Department, and Tilcon lobbyists and public relations people in attendance is a concern. Will those people be reviewing the study for comment before it’s released?
What is also disconcerting is the consultant’s stated goal “to maximize the safe yield from the new reservoir to serve the city while balancing the environmental and ecological impacts,” and which “minimizes impacts on the environment.” How do you minimize the environmental and ecological impacts of blowing up 131 acres of protected watershed?
This isn’t about water; it’s about Tilcon destroying 131 acres of protected watershed.
Paul E. Zagorsky