WESTPORT SCHOOL TRAFFIC & SAFETY ALERT
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Westport residents, we need your help in mitigating the impact of the construction of INDUSTRIAL-SIZED WATER TANKS across from Staples High School.
WHY SIGN THIS PETITION? HOW DOES THIS CONSTRUCTION AFFECT ME?
- up to 5 years of construction with cranes on North Avenue to build gigantic water towers opposite of Staples. The last water project on North Ave was much smaller and took much longer.
- massive commute delays on North Avenue, home to our flagship school Staples, Bedford, Long Lots and, let's not forget, a major artery to Greens Farms train station and CMS & BMS playing fields
- overlooked safety concerns for a mega project in an area where our children travel to daily on foot, on bikes, school buses and cars
- negative quality of life impact for all residents directly around the water towers during the construction
- long term negative property value impact for ALL residents of WESTPORT
By signing this petition you will help us negotiate with Aquarion for a better and safer upgrade to our water tanks.
Please find more detailed information about the water tank project below. We continue to update it with newly garnered facts. If you see any mistakes or have any questions, please contact us: Marc & Stefanie Lemcke (917) 385-4299 and email@example.com; Rob Harrington (203) 916-2654 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Westport faces the construction of two industrial-sized, 37-ft tall water tanks that was approved in the summer by P&Z with hardly any public discussion. Yes, we residents and our Fire Department want safe and reliable water storage. Yes, we welcome an infrastructure upgrade. What we do not want is a “monstrosity” (per P&Z) that Aquarion proposed based on its own numbers and projections, without independent due diligence and public involvement. We are asking Aquarion to find ways to lessen the environmental and construction impact of the project and to work on meaningful concessions for our town.
Questions and Answers
1. This is a huge project for Westport. Will the water be only for our town?
No. While Westport will bear the brunt of the construction and the eye sore, the tanks will serve all of southern CT region and even bottlers. This is a violation to Westport’s zoning code.
2. What about my drive to school and work?
There will be construction, cranes and heavy machinery on North Avenue. This will impact the critical traffic juncture all around our schools on North Avenue and impact the quality of life of all of us.
3. What is the project?
- Aquarion Water Company plans to build two industrial-sized water tanks on North Avenue, across from Staples High School. The new tanks will replace the old one that was built in 1956 and needs to be replaced. The current tank is completely shielded by trees.
- Aquarion plans to nearly triple the height from 12ft to 37ft above ground while restricting water use starting next year.
- Westport Planning & Zoning approved the plan over the summer in just three months, and hardly any resident knew about it.
4. What’s the big deal about the upgrade of the tank? Isn’t that a good thing?
Yes, it is good! The question is not whether it is good, but how it is done. Some concerns:
- Westport P&Z did not perform independent due diligence on the water requirements. All numbers and growth projections come from Aquarion, the private company, and no other sources.
- Aquarion failed to sufficiently explain why Westport needed to nearly triple its water storage capacity. Even a P&Z commissioner expressed concern that we did not want this “unwelcome growth”. How many high-rise buildings are we expecting?
5. Westport Fire Chief Robert Yost said we needed more water to put out fires. Isn’t he right?
Yes, he is absolutely correct! But the amount of water he required for putting out fires is a fraction of what Aquarion has proposed. The Fire Chief does not care where the tanks will be.
6. How many years will this project take?
2-5 years. P&Z gave Aquarion until September 2022 to finish it.
7. Has Aquarion constructed water tanks in other towns? What happened there?
The most recent examples are Greenwich and Darien, whose town leaders and P&Z supported their citizens and fought against the projects in their towns. Greenwich residents who opposed the tank had two years to understand the issue and work with Aquarion to get meaningful concessions on construction and landscaping. Westport residents were given less than 3 months, and our P&Z did not exactly fight for us. As P+Z Commissioner Chip Stephens said, “the big utilities will win anyway.”
8. Why didn’t I hear about this until now?
We wish we knew! What we do know is: the Westport public hearings are usually published in Westport newspapers, except this one, which was somehow published in the Norwalk Hour instead.
9. Some questions that Aquarion still needs to answer or has failed to answer?
- Has Aquarion considered another site and methods for water storage for the region, besides Westport?
- What are Aquarion’s risk management plans if an accident occurs to the surrounding homes?
- How much landscaping will there be to completely shield the tanks from sight?
- Is there an escrow account for landscape maintenance?
- Has Aquarion considered:
- other building materials, such as pre-fab carbon-fiber tanks, which take a few days to install?
- other building strategies, such as dry hydrants, underground tanks or cistern, which are often done in residential neighborhoods?
10. What does the town's water plan say?
Westport does not have a water plan nor water expertise.
11. Call to action
Sign our petition! Ask the town and Aquarion to get back to the table to discuss the magnitude and the duration of the project.
12. How do I know what you’re saying is true?
Read the pages written by P&Z Chair Catherine Walsh expressing her concerns about the project. Instead of challenging the company and verifying its claims, Ms. Walsh approved the plan without any substantial requirements or changes. (Email Marc Lemcke for the Walsh notes, email@example.com.)
Contact: Marc & Stefanie Lemcke (917) 385-4299 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Harrington (203) 916-2654 and email@example.com
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