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First Phase of Southern Line Set to Begin; Second Phase in the Works

Construction readying for breakout phase of Souther Water Line, with vote on second phase projected for this fall.

First Selectman Bill Davidson said town officials will soon be considering a $4,685,000 appropriation for the second phase of the public water system commonly known as the Southern Water Line, which will provide service through the southern corridor of Federal Road, a popular commercial district.

“The area from Costco to Stew Leonard’s is already a powerful attraction that brings many shoppers from outside the immediate area,” he said. “Having public water will make it even more attractive and slightly ease the burden on the residential taxpayers.”

Town officials have said for years that it is amazing that such a large commercial area was built without public water.

Davidson said, for example, the second phase of the southern corridor water system would provide public water for that is expected to be under construction by next spring in the north section of the Kohl’s shopping plaza and Costco, by acquiring an adjoining parcel to its location at 200 Federal Road.

He said it also would provide fire suppression along the corridor through the installation of hydrants.

Over the recent years, the town has constructed a public water system along the northern corridor of Federal Road, which is being developed into the Town District Center, a 198-acre pedestrian-friendly commercial streetscape, and then, more recently, through the central section of the road.

Davidson said the second phase of the water project also would provide service to the residents at the 106-unit Sandy Lane Village condominiums, who have experienced contaminated water, and the residents at the Rollingwood condominiums, who have encountered obstacles in maintaining an adequate supply of water.

The first selectman said the state Department of Public Health (DPH) has approved the plans for the second phase of the project, which would run to the intersection of Federal and Candlewood Lake roads. He said the DPH is seeking to resolve “the water issues” at the two condominium complexes.

Davidson said the first phase of the southern corridor project, which will cost $285,000, has been approved at a special town meeting, bid proposals are due by July 29 and construction is scheduled to be completed this fall.

He said that phase would start near the intersection of Junction and Federal roads with 12-inch pipe being installed for 1,088 feet along Old New Milford Road to a point near the Greenknoll branch of the YMCA.

Davidson said that system would “branch back” to Federal Road and also provide service to customers in that 1,088-foot zone.

The Cost of Water

The Rev. Phil Morgan, the senior pastor at The First Assembly of God church near the intersection of Junction and Federal roads, said his congregation is scheduled to be assessed $152,000 for the project, making them the largest assessee for the first phase of the project.

He said although that figure might be lowered through an appeals process, the congregation will have to discuss fund-raising to pay for its portion of the water line, even though it currently has a suitable well system and doesn’t plan to connect to the public water in the foreseeable future.

“We may connect to it at some point, since our wells, for example, could go dry,” Morgan said. “Being assessed for a water project even though you won’t be using it right away is not unusual. I support the water system because Federal Road needs public water and there are benefits for the town.”

The senior pastor said Davidson has “been as transparent as possible” in providing information to the property owners along the first phase.

“It is a big expense, but it can be more manageable since the town is planning to bond for the project and it will be paid for over many years,” said Morgan, who has been at the First Assembly of God since 2003.

He said his congregation has “some time” to consider options since the initial payments will likely not be due until the second phase of the project is completed, which will be no earlier than the fall of next year.

Morgan said documents provided by municipal officials indicated that the YMCA would be the second largest assessee for the first phase.

According to Davidson, the southern corridor water project would be funded on a “user pays” basis.

Davidson said the only costs to the general taxpayers would be for the fire hydrants.

State Rep. David Scribner (R-107) said he has applied for $1 million in state bond money and a $500,000 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant to offset some of the costs with the second phase of the water system.

He said despite the state’s current fiscal crisis, he is cautiously optimistic that the funds will be approved. He said the bond appropriation was included in the package that the General Assembly has approved, but noted that each project has to be considered by the state Bond Commission, which is chaired by Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-Stamford).

Scribner said that he has helped acquire five STEAP grants for the town over the last five years.

The state representative said that he anticipates that the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will be able to provide low-interest loans to property owners along the water system through the Clean Water Fund.

Getting Started on Phase II

Davidson said the proposal for the second phase will be on the agenda at the Board of Selectmen’s July 11 meeting. That project would also have to be approved by the Board of Finance, some land-use commissions and a special town meeting before a referendum could be scheduled.

The first selectman said since it appears residents will consider major improvements to Cadigan Park and Town Beach at referendum in the November 8 election, a referendum on the second phase of the southern corridor water project would likely be held either in September or December.

“We just can’t put too many things out there at once,” Davidson said, noting that construction of the two-mile Still River Greenway bicycle and running path may also be considered at referendum in November or at another time in the near future.

Davidson said he and local developer Marty Handshy, who has been the town’s water consultant since early last year, have devoted considerable time to the water projects.

He had said last year that he hoped to build a water system through the southern corridor of Federal Road by December 2011.

“Government action can be very clunky,” Davidson said regarding the complicated nature of completing a water project. “It can take way more time than some people think.”

The first selectman said water-related issues have occupied a considerable amount of his time since he took office about 19 months ago.

Davidson said the third phase of the water system, which would extend from the intersection of Candlewood Lake and Federal roads to the Danbury border, is not “a pressing issue at this time.”

He said he wants to get that phase completed, but noted that Danbury’s public water system only extends to Stew Leonard’s, which is south of the Brookfield border and that “ideally” it would be best to have the water systems from Danbury and Brookfield connect at the border.

John Berger July 22, 2011 at 11:41 AM
Mr. Lasser, I believe the Brookfield Patch to be an excellent forum for taxpayers to express their opinion and seek answers to their questions and problems. There are a multitude of residents who are reluctant to speak out at public meetings or hearings and their anxiety is warrented. The Brookfield Patch gives them a platform to express their concerns. The original question is still unanswered. "What exactly does the "non-user", who lives miles from the water pipeline, get for the current and considerable amount of $350.00 per hydrant per year?" "Healty and Safety" is a boiler plate answer. We need something be more specific.
Rob Gianazza July 22, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Mr. Berger, it has been my experience that the Patch does provide an excellent forum for sharing questions and answers. There is a caveat however, readers and writers need to be tolerant of differing opinions and make clear the difference between facts and opinions. When all involved respond in a manner that exhibits civility, everyone benefits.
Howard Lasser July 22, 2011 at 03:31 PM
John, I believe I go out of my way to let people know my opinions on these issues, either at the Board meetings, through direct emails and through my newsletter (which is published on the Patch). We may not agree but no one has ever accused me of not being forthright about where I stand on an issue. I know that the reasons hydrants are a community benefit have been articulated at various times over the years, however, if you missed it, one more time will not hurt. So here goes (not necessarily in order of importance): 1) The Federal Road corridor is a vital commercial district that is frequented by most, if not all, of us. Providing fire suppression is a matter of safety to all who shop there. 2) Providing water and fire suppression enhances the value of this commercial district encouraging growth in our commercial tax base which in turn relieves the residential tax payers of some burden. 3) Anytime clean water is provided closer to the need it is a benefit. Even if you are not within proximity of a hydrant it shortens the distance and time the fire pumpers have to go to fill up their equipment when the need arises. I am sure there are more reasons, but these are the ones that come to my mind at this time.
John Berger July 23, 2011 at 01:29 PM
Mr.Lasser, The readers of the Brookfield Patch thank you for the additional information on Brookfields fire suppression system and are looking forward to the tax relief it may bring
John Berger July 24, 2011 at 10:12 AM
Mr.Gianazza, The Brookfield Patch is a valuable source of information and the "comments section" is a service to the community, it provides a level playing field for those wishing to express an opinion. Those who make comments must remember, "you can always disagree without being disagreeable".

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