New Canaan officials want environmental study before restoration work on Grupes Reservoir Dam
There is disagreement between officials on how best to restore a New Canaan dam that dates back to the 19th century.
The Grupes Reservoir Dam was built in 1871.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and local officials say New Canaan's Grupes Dam needs restorations, but local officials say the state's plan will cause problems for neighbors.
New Canaan's First Taxing District was given a permit by DEEP to increase the dam's height by 4 feet and construct an embankment, or a berm, to prevent water overflowing the banks.
"The upstream neighbors have a concern particularly on both sides of the reservoir of what the impact will be in their viewshed," said Chris Schipper.
Schipper chairs the town Conservation Commission and used to be president of the New Canaan Land Trust, which owns a wildlife preserve near the reservoir. Schipper says the planned restoration could leave the preserve flooded and unusable, especially in spring or during heavy rains.
"If the berm impounds the water, it would flood portions of that beautiful land trust property, which is visited by neighbors and land trust members," he said.
Funding for the project is set to come from the state Department of Public Health. New Canaan officials are calling for an environmental impact statement before ground is broken.
"You have to collect information; you do what you call truth sense or land sense. You walk the property, you evaluate it for its habitat, its wildlife," Schipper said.
Schipper says acres of habitat and one of the town's best views are on the line.
"It is one of the oldest Land Trust properties in New Canaan, one of the earliest gifts received," he said.
DEEP sent News 12 a statement saying in part, "the agency held four days of public hearings, and eventually concluded the competing dam safety, and environmental interests were balanced when it came to the design of the project."