CITY HALL WATCH:
Controversial Sale of Watershed on Common Council Agenda Wednesday, August 13th
The proposed sale of watershed property to the Town of Southington — opposed by residents who testified at a July hearing — is on the New Britain City Council agenda at Wednesday August 13th meeting of the Common Council.
Mayor Erin Stewart and Republicans, who last year falsely charged that the O’Brien Administration was planning to sell off New Britain’s watershed, are pushing strongly for a $1.2 million sale of the Patton Brook Well to Southington.
The move would break with the city’s longstanding policy of retaining valuable watershed assets in exchange for a one-time shot of revenue proposed at $1.2 million and may open the gates to similar sales of public assets as the city remains mired in borrowing and deficits and a property tax increase of 11% this year.
The Board of Water Commissioners reportedly approved the deal but the Stewart appointed board was not unanimous with only three members present and one of those Stewart-appointed members abstaining. Public testimony at the Council committee hearing was unanimously against the sale.
In July the Democratic Town Committee adopted a unanimous resolution opposing the sale of watershed to Southington.
Stated Rep. Rick Lopes (24) in a recent letter to the editor: “The idea that Southington refuses to renew the lease for the well because they no longer need it does not hold water when it is followed up by their offer to buy and renovate it for millions of dollars. If the town really does not need the well, then why would they buy it from us? Obviously the well is part of their long-term water sustainability plan and they see great financial savings though purchasing the asset instead of leasing it indefinitely. Water and access to water will always remain a valuable asset. The city of New Britain had the foresight to purchase property with access to water all over the state and these water rights remain among our most valuable assets. Giving up wells and reservoirs are short-term fixes that will only cost the city in the long run.”
Public participation begins at 7 p.m. for the regular Common Council meeting in the Council chambers at City Hall.
Related Story from July 17th Hartford Courant