SOUTHINGTON - Two Town Council members said they want a vote to formally rescind a letter sent by the town manager expressing the town’s approval of the proposed Tilcon mine expansion.
“We were very distraught to find out our town manager sent a letter endorsing the project and didn’t consult his bosses,” said council member Dawn Miceli. The town manager “did not formally rescind” that letter of endorsement but rather sent Mayor Erin Stewart an email to that effect.
Miceli and council member John Barry said a discussion of the project will be on the agenda for the Sept. 11 meeting.
Town Manager Gary Brumback had initially sent a letter endorsing the plan last year.
“We are against this project,” Barry said. “There is no benefit to the town of Southington. The goal on September 11 is to have an extensive discussion and rescind the letter.”
The council members made their statements at the Southington Public Library Tuesday during a presentation hosted by members of Protect Our Watersheds CT on what the area could potentially lose if Tilcon is allowed to mine 131 acres that includes Class I and Class II protected watersheds owned by the New Britain Water Department.
As Southington resident John Sokolowsky showed slides of the various snakes, woodpeckers, salamanders and flora that inhabit the vernal pools on Bradley Mountain where the mining is to take place, Attorney Paul Zagorsky pointed out that Tilcon stands to gain $1 billion from the 40-year project.
“This would be complete devastation of the entire area,” Zagorsky said. “That rock is worth billions of dollars.”
Under the plan, Tilcon would mine the city-owned land off Woodford Avenue in Plainville for 40 to 50 years before returning the parcel to New Britain as a reservoir.
The legislature must approve a change of use for the land in order for Tilcon to mine the property. Opponents are concerned that if the proposal is approved by the General Assembly, Class I and Class II watersheds would be imperiled throughout the state.
Although no financial terms have been publicly discussed, Tilcon would lease the land from the city.
The proposal has been hotly contested by environmental groups and area residents who fought a similar plan that died in 2008. According to that plan, the city of New Britain would have received $15 million from Tilcon in exchange for leasing the mineral rights from the city.
As part of the legislation enabling the plan to move forward, New Britain was required to retain a consultant to review the environmental impact of the project, which would extend the current Tilcon quarry in Plainville toward Crescent Lake and Bradley Mountain in Southington and the New Britain-owned Shuttle Meadow Resevoir.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Stewart said the city “remains committed” to studying and reviewing “all the issues and concerns surrounding the potential for a new reservoir project.”
“I have every confidence that the comprehensive four-season study will result in an independent, professional, factual and data driven report on the environmental impacts of creating a reservoir,” Stewart said. “I look forward to reviewing that report and getting feedback from residents during the legislatively mandated local public hearing process.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.