SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
note that About Weston has observed goings on at the superblock that
includes the unified school campus since even before this website began
in 1998; we have consolidated those aspects relating to the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and its involvement in the Schools/Fields project
here, on this new sub-page!
MS4 Finalized by end of 2016.
The Army Corps of Engineers played a role in the School Construction
process. And the impact of D.E.E.P. reaction of the school project
controversies still resonates re: MS4 planning/engineering funding.
. S . A r m y C o r p s o
E n g i n e e r s
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
...Who should apply for a permit?
person, firm, or agency (including Federal, state, and local government
agencies) planning to work in navigable waters of the United States, or
discharge (dump, place, deposit) dredged or fill material in waters of
the United States, including wetlands,
must first obtain a permit from the Corps of Engineers. Permits,
licenses, variances, or similar authorization may also be required by
other Federal, state and local statutes...from the FAQ page.
Weston School Campus Construction: How is this relevant to Global Facilities planning in 2015?
In 2015, discussion of Public Safety Complex brings Hurlbutt septic system into play...so where exactly is it located???
The Onion Barn Field is located to the left of the Barn itself
(above); Hurlbutt Buildings next and the Hurlbutt softball field
HURLBUTT HAS SEPTIC SYSTEM - NOT TIED INTO TERTIARY TREATMENT PLANT ON SCHOOL ROAD
Core Building, East House with new windows and roof; across the
"quad" looking from South House to East House; and then there is
North House with basement and two stories.
Hurlbutt Elementary School: North
House plans are still up in the air
By Patricia Gay on November 20, 2012
The Weston school district is considering giving a portion of the North
House section of Hurlbutt Elementary School to the town. Most likely,
the Senior Center, now located in a portion of South House, would move
to North House.
The Weston school district is considering giving a portion of the North
House section of Hurlbutt Elementary School to the town. Most likely,
the Senior Center, now located in a portion of South House, would move
to North House.
The Weston Board of Education has postponed voting on the status of
North House at Hurlbutt Elementary School— whether to hand over part of
it to the town for municipal use — until its Dec. 17 meeting.
The issue was originally going to be discussed and possibly voted on by
the board on Nov. 19. However, because of the time crunch caused by
storm Sandy, Superintendent Colleen Palmer said school officials want
to give people more time to hear about the proposal for North House and
weigh in with their opinions.
North House has been a topic of discussion at recent school board
committee meetings, PTO meetings, and a “Coffee with the
Superintendent” held last Saturday.
Dr. Palmer is asking the public to send questions about North House to
her at firstname.lastname@example.org; she will address them on her blog on the
school’s website, westonps.org.
The Board of Selectmen initially was also going to discuss North House
at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, but deleted the item from its agenda
in light of the school board’s decision not to vote on the matter until
“It is school property and the selectmen are not making any decisions
until the schools decide what they are going to do,” First Selectman
Gayle Weinstein said last Thursday...story in full at the FORUM.
Wetlands remediation begins at Weston Middle School
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Thursday, 19 July 2012 09:30
A $330,000 wetland remediation project behind Weston Middle School has
Workers from Sum-Co Ecocontracting of Salem, Mass., were on site as of
July 9, removing invasive vegetation like cattails and grading the area
to improve natural drainage.
Tom Landry, town administrator, explained that when the intermediate
school was built six or seven years ago, "it encompassed some invasion
of wetlands." The Army Corps of Engineers allows this as long as
comparable areas of wetlands are created in other areas.
Several smaller patches were created, but "didn't take," Mr. Landry
said. This is a relatively common occurrence, he said, so the Army
Corps of Engineers did not require the town to redo them, but when it
came to the area behind the middle school, "they told us, 'This one's
big enough that you need to redo it,'" Mr. Landry said.
The main problem is the elevations behind the middle school were
changed so that pre-existing wetlands behind the high school started to
not drain properly. The work being done now includes slightly
flattening the area and creating a channel for water to flow more
freely to where it is supposed to go.
When plans were drawn up in 2009, the engineer estimated the project
would cost about $120,000. But by the time bids came in nearly a year
later, they were about two-and-a-half times that, Mr. Landry said.
The town withdrew the plans and bid slightly different specs, but the
result was "not much better," the town administrator said.
Ultimately, the town contracted with Sum-Co for $237,585. But, Mr.
Landry said, there was an additional cost of almost $100,000 for site
and design work.
Because the remediation work involves a lot of loud, heavy machinery,
the town received permission from the corps to delay the project —
which originally had a completion date that would have put construction
during the school year — until this summer...story in full at the FORUM.
PREVIOUSLY...DURING SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROCESS...
Corps of Engineers:
what they received
from Triton (cc. to Owners Rep), and sent back to, the Town of Weston
minor changes); four (4) examples of plans and one S&E detail
EXISTING CONDITIONS...This is what is there
now (2003). AND PROPOSED (r).
Click on maps, for larger versions.
READING THE FINE PRINT
Lots more impervious surfaces in the plan (new school building, doubling of high school and parking and roads), don't you think? Does this require compensation by creating additional wetlands? Yup. To
be precise, 2.64 acres more (in addition to existing 19 acres of
existing wetland). That on a parcel of 109 plus acres total.
CONSTRUCTION ISN'T PRETTY, IN THE WINTER PICTURE
summer of 2004
camp and campus use: ABOVE, winter at WHS, 2005:
Traffic summer 2014 entered School Road
from Lord's Highway - did not go past back entrance to WMS;
the Weston Road side, traffic probably not allowed much
B.O.E./Kinderland, IIRC. Provision for EMERGENCY ACCESS, OF COURSE, IS
IN THIS PLAN.
PLAN: This map show the three (3) existing
buildings plus improvements and new "3-4-5 school" Click on map for larger version.
OVERALL PLAN: There are separate
detailed drawings of each activity having wetland impact
- click on map for larger version.
THIS IS HOW IT WORKS: Less
than an acre (above) of "activity" in wetlands requires 2.64 acres of
click on map for blow up.
THE CROWNING GLORY OF THE PROJECT WAS "W.I.S." - THE 3-4-5 BUILDING (under construction, above).
SPECIFIC PLAN FOR AREA
NEAR TENNIS COURTS: Located in between W.I.S. and W.H.S.
This was an early part of the plan
that aroused neighbors from Parade Ground Court and caused School
Committee to revise early site plan. Click on map for blow up.
selected pages from Triton Environmental,
Inc. report dated (covering letter) November 20, 2003.
Education / Athletics Complex's Priorities: Or perhaps, community values? Explanation here as to "lighted fields" and their significance.
First meeting included light and sound tests; Second
reviewed sports seasons (winter & spring), plans for a special prior
to school in Fall;
THE LIGHTS AND SOUND TEST DECEMBER 3, 2014, 6PM UNDER SUPERVISION OF LIGHTS COMMITTEE
With permission, Musco and Committee members ventured onto private
property using flashlights, by the light of the Moon. Sunset over
second quarterly meeting.
LIGHTED FIELDS: A TOPIC OF INTEREST TO ABOUT TOWN FOR MORE THAN A DECADE
LIGHTS COMMITTEE SUMMARY - There will be a
report given to the Board of Selectmen at its June 30th meeting on next
steps. Which appear to be to find the screening funding and expertise
to design the best additional protection for the neighbors. But unless
there are specific requests and identification of needs, it will be, my
choice of words here, like working in the dark. Special Meeting of
Lights Committee at the end of August or early September to move forward
with planting in the proper season (and not lose a year because of
bureaucratic delay - my words again). It is pointed
out to Lights Committee members representing the Selectmen and the
Board of Education that the planting designed to screen the dumpsters is
awesome and works, but the berm, designed to have plantings atop, was
not as successful.
In the beginning there was a football field and a dirt track, the "beginning" being as of November 15, 2001. That is the date the Weston Schools and Fields Bond Issue passed.
In order to get the numbers down from $124 million - which would
not have passed - the town leadership pared the project down to only $79
million. Left out were several items that became public-private
One of the things that got cut out was lights for lighted fields - but
through good planning, the infrastructure to support future installation
of lights at the football field and soccer field remained in the
package that went to Referendum...
21, 2001 Special Board of Selectmen's Meeting:
Five other Boards &
Committees report at Library in 4 hours+
Library...the scene was set, air conditioning at full blast (and so no
hot air) and no "public input" either, as advertised.
It was quite
extraordinary. In one place, at one time, the five (5) different
Town Boards and/or Commissions or Special Committees who had played a part
in determining the future of the Weston School System and the Central Part
of town came together (not all in person). The opinions that might
be expressed either unintentionally or on purpose are those of this WEBsite.
First to be
called upon, the "B.O.E." made their pitch. Financial figures were
supplied by the Director of Finance of the B.O.E. regarding ten year regular
budget costs looking "forward" ten years. Construction cost was presented
by the Chair. and the Board Member who had sat on the Select Team.
Bottom line: $65 million NET.
the Board of Education came the School Building Committee; the Chair. of
this official Committee specifically called out gross (we think) numbers
for other construction:
HOUSES - $10,246,795
(to reconfigure) - approx. $1,500,000
$79,798,112 GROSS (NET total $3.2 million higher than Board of Education
of this Ad Hoc Committee reported on their supporting activities, including
the "Impact of Town Operating Budget and School Expansion Debt Service
Costs" document (dated August 15, 2001). This group is intending
to develop informational tools regarding the items that will ultimately
go to Referendum.
Committee on the Impact of Sewage Treatment on the Character of Weston
was not present. Information was given by the First Selectman that
the consultant had submitted a report stating that $2.4 million to $2.6
million was the cost of completely redoing (including recycling and
tertiary treatment) - although the Department of Environmental Protection
had not approved the final details of the full construction of systems
and other treatment structures in the program yet. The higher figure
represents recycling of water at the new building (we think).
had had enough by this time (@10:30pm); the Parks and Recreation
Commission spoke of the shifting use of fields - and how many would be
lost during construction. Plans for Bisceglie and Morehouse Farm
Park (Minerva Heady's land) and school campus total $10.5 million. Of
this larger total,s as a subtotal amount, are plans for...2 little league
fields, 3 multi-use fields, 2 tennis courts (is that enough?) and concession
stand, lighting of 2 athletic fields, playground, nature trails and board
walks, overlook (great view), water supply--and a SKATE PARK come to...$4.2
million (subtotal). And some more items. Breaking down
these numbers further, according to written material available at the door,
fields at Bisceglie for school and adult use (softball and baseball) might
come to $400,000. The big loser in all the plans is
tennis (six courts lost on School Road)...does this make sense to you?
line? "About Town" counted maybe $93 million gross to do it all.
But what do I know?
is for the Board of Selectmen to recommend a number (and the projects to
be included, we presume)...
"Let there be lights and there were lights"
The whole community enjoys the use of schools and fields,
WHS is the emergency shelter, for tennis and to keep in shape on the
beautiful all weather track - which is now lit for night use!.
QUARTERLY PUBLIC MEETINGS OF LIGHTS COMMITTEE AND SPECIAL MEETINGS
SPECIAL VIEWING ON SITE, DECEMBER 3, 2014, BEGINNING AT 6PM.
Present: Chair. (Selectman), Board of Ed member, staff from Parks&Rec, staff from Board of Ed, Musco rep, neighbors.
Test of new sound system and the lights on neighboring properties done.
Now that they have "worn in" it was time to see if the lights were doing what the Selectmen had wanted ("zero" intrusion).
Had you noticed these
houses in September? How far away is the home that has its outside
Does any of this relate to the issue of the loudspeaker
system - or "less-loud" loudspeaker system?
Weston High School ball field puts lights to the test
Please read the article in full - it appears that the "Lights Committee" process is working.
Story in FORUM here:
...“When we were walking behind the field, we couldn’t hear Sal talking,” Mr. Muller said. “We could hear the music, though.”
said decibel readings were about 61 to 62 decibels at the property
line. “We’re now trying to get an idea of what does that mean.”
For one of the neighbors, Sandy Block of Parade Ground Court, it likely means it’s too loud.
Block, whose property does not abut the playing field but is nearby,
said he would like the decibel level capped at about 50. That’s the
level that was agreed upon in a court case that involved Fairfield
University and its neighbors as the maximum sound level at the property
line. “We could use that as a benchmark,” Mr. Block said...
Here you have a good view of what can be seen by Parade Ground Court, perhaps not the exact angle.
Field closed and padlocked. In the pitch black (off the field) intrepid participants marched into the woods...
Paved paths, where there were any, were used, and then in the dark of
night, across the grass and into the trees for those properly shod or
Orange points of light are outdoor illumination on neighboring properties, we think.
We were surprised that anything came out on this photos (remember, no flash). The densely treed property was illuminated - but was it the field lighting - see above?
First meeting of Lights Committee (5 members)
Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, 7:30pm in Town Hall Meeting Room
Present: David Muller, Chair. (Selectman); Elise Major,
Board of Education; neighbors (2); Dr. Keating and Joe Olenik.
At first meeting of Lights Committee - what happened:
Only Stadium Field at high school is under their control (there had been
some questions raised by neighbors of the lighted soccer field that it would be
nice to use this Committee as clearing house for their questions, too). The Committee is, however, not empowered to
look further than the Stadium Field.
(See picture above of crane) I asked Dr. Keating and Joe Olenik at this first
Lights Committee meeting tonight, prior to its beginning, and they said they
were putting up the air handlers on the high school roof (since we ended up
with the money to do so because the windows&doors project this past summer
same in way under budget) for air conditioning the E-Wing new rooms.
This is a very good Committee – David Muller is the Chair. – they see
themselves as the first stop for people with complaints and those who have
suggestions about the football field “Stadium” lights to go. They intend to help solve the problems by
referring folks to the right place for answers.
Although they will be meeting quarterly (this was the first meeting), they
intend to have other meetings as necessary.
Besides filing their minutes in a timely fashion, I get the feeling that
they want to be seen as at the front line of problems – for example, they are
going to find out how things have gone so far in terms of following the M.O.U.
Special Meeting: For example: Nov. 19 at sunset/when it is dark, they
intend to meet to check out spillage as well as sound. Up until now, they have not gone on private
property to measure light seepage; but if neighbors want them to see something
on their own properties, Nov. 19 would be the time to give permission for
measurement devices to be used on these private properties.
Next meeting in January 2015. However, Special Meetings will be called in between.
Lights, camera...24 hour test review September 4, 2014 - all hands on deck!
We entered as if we were going to the tennis courts...I wonder if there is a parking plan for football games?
The problem, as had been anticipated at the Board of Selectmen...
What happens when the leaves are down? Please note the "bounce" effect on the visitor side.
After parking, we took our first photo facing east, toward Weston High School (in the back of this picture).
We kept on walking east, and took this picture (we were using a flash).
The mellifluous voice of WHS announcer (is that really you, Sal?) does a voice test - to tell if the new sound system measurements in reality are what they were supposed to be!
NO RESIDENCES BEHIND HOME STANDS - "BOUNCE" EFFECT NEUTRALIZED
This is just the beginning of the story of how it came to be that
Weston, CT high school sports programs made it possible for more
students and adults to keep in shape!
Mother Nature upstaged.
Doesn't the moon look sad? Has "Company" ever performed Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera? We saw it in "...Marc Blitzstein's version which ran during the 1950's for six years and featured the incomparable Lotte Lenya..." as this Youtube description reminds me (how long ago that was). Boy, did it make an impression on me!
The actual wording of the opening line to this song is "See the moon over dock street?"
What's next? First came the soccer field (behind the press box)...times two
In 2014 Weston, it was a big "yes" by
governmental agencies involved. Did the taxpayers under write
these projects? Not entirely and the upkeep of replacing turf is
supposed to come from users - which means the sports clubs - but we are
pretty sure the town pays for it in part through the education
budget. And then there is the electricity bill for the lights...
Musco Lighting from Wikipedia - more can be found there.
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION, MONDAY, MAY 19, 2014, 8:15PM IN TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM ON TOWN TV
8-24 review of Town of Weston application for permanent lights for football field - to be used for many events five nights a week and weekends. At right, 2009 rear view of press box, sans big lights.
AT the BOARD OF SELECTMEN, MAY 1, 2014
Lower left in a tie, neighbors' attorney, attempting to claim that the Town is no longer exempt from zoning - was cut off.
Neighbors and others who opposed stadium lights had their time before
the Selectmen, having submitted extensive reports of their own.
IRONY KNOWS NO BOUNDS...WHAT'S NEXT? LIGHTING THE TENNIS COURTS?
Who will speak for those who don't think the Board of Selectmen
should be making decisions about 80 foot lights for night
football? Or for the "parade of the horribles" of what the lights
proposed will lead to...
Who else but Wild Things founder and
pitcher, whose letter was read into the record by the
gentleman on the lower left. The cell tower at Town Hall is 195
feet high, serving as communication center vital link and with all
carriers on the same pole, to minimize impact on others, is also not
directly abutting a residential area
Is "Friday Night Football" in the same class as emergency
communications? Is that high school football, grand American
southern and mid-western tradition, really what Westonites want to
override their dark night skies?
Appropriate phrasing...PUNT: Put it to a "yes" or "no" vote in November, perhaps? Or...
If the Board
of Selectmen moves ahead and votes or takes an action (see section 3.6 of the Town Charter, below - which is online) in favor of "Stadium" lights, which
are being pitched as a method to "bring us together" and improve
community spirit, there is an action to combat this - If those opposed can muster 318 signatures*
of eligible town meeting voters, try a "Petition for Overrule of Action
of Board of
Selectmen" (see below from Weston Town Charter). This might not
be a good solution because individuals might find themselves targets of
those who are in favor of the proposal.
And there is a third thing to consider. Is it worth fighting and winning a legal battle, spending money, destroying the comity of the town? Who wins in the end? Remember this Special Town Meeting?
* = Since
127 was the 2% number for ATBM, divided that by 2 and multiply by 5 and
you have the number of signatures needed - but check with the Town
Judge blocks Obama EPA rule as federal power grab over state waters
By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2015
President Obama’s push to extend the EPA’s regulatory hand to ditches
and small streams to enforce clean water rules was blocked Thursday by a
federal judge, who said the administration had overstepped its bounds
in trying yet another end run around Congress.
Judge Ralph R. Erickson called the Environmental Protection Agency’s
attempt “inexplicable, arbitrary and devoid of a reasoned process,” and
issued an injunction preventing the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers from claiming oversight of millions of acres of land that
contain small bodies of water...story in full at Washington TIMES.
28, 2005 Stamford ADVOCATE:
light Little League field rejected
By Donna Porstner
The Parks and Recreation Commission last night turned down a request to
light the Federal Little League field at West Beach.
Hand, Thomas Lombardo and Vincent Martino voted against the project
the commission's monthly meeting, saying they are sympathetic to
who oppose the project. The commission's fourth member, Julian Sayer,
the lights would shine in their bedroom windows, their children
be able to sleep -- they'd lose their privacy," Hand said in an
after the meeting at Government Center.
he received phone calls from neighbors asking him to vote against the
League officials wrote to the city in August, seeking approval to
six 60-foot-tall light poles at their own expense.
League President Joe Russo did not attend last night's meeting, but in
a telephone interview afterward said he was surprised and disappointed
by the commission's decision.
we had a very good chance of getting the lights because the purchase
installation would have all been funded by us," Russo said. "I'm very
with the outcome of the vote and what we're going to do is explore any
other avenues to appeal."
Peter Weissman, vice president of the Marina Bay condominum board,
the commisson's decision....
story in full at Stamford Advocate
Lighted Fields Divide Towns;
Neighbors Fight Plans For Night Games
By MARYELLEN FILLO, Hartford Courant
Emmick and Ron Rodd joke that
they could sell hot dogs from the comfortable deck of their home to
sitting in the Wethersfield High School bleachers just 30 feet away.
I want to know the score of the
game I just look out the window," Emmick said, as she and her husband
beyond the bleachers to the massive renovation underway at the school's
Cottone Field in Wethersfield.
miles away in a another residential
neighborhood in Simsbury, Adam Sharaf stands in the middle of his
yard looking over a clutch of birch and evergreen trees to the Simsbury
High School bleachers that offer fans a bird's-eye view of his home.
where the band sits for home
games," he said, pointing to the top rows that rise above the tree
"I can wave to them during home games."
are residents who have lived
next to public high school athletic fields for years. They have
the seasonal cacophony of over-exuberant fans and bands; noisy,
traffic; and the assorted other intrusions that come with living close
to such a venue.
at least, they say, it was limited
to the daytime.
as advocates push for the installation
of lights to allow nighttime play, the residents have drawn the line on
is nothing good about the
installation of lights," said Emmick, who with her husband and others
the Wethersfield neighborhood are fighting a plan to install lights on
the renovated field.
are larger consequences here,"
said Rodd, who contends that the project has been "rammed through" by a
faction of local politicians. "We are not anti-sports, or anti-kids or
selfish," he continued. "But this is a flawed process that is turning a
desirable neighborhood into an undesirable one. We are trying to
controversy in the two towns
is a repeat of standoffs that have taken place over the years in
of towns across the state and the country. For many years, families
near schools in residential areas learned to co-exist with the
activities, including a few football, baseball or soccer games.
as lifestyles changed, and the
number, types and participation in interscholastic sports increased,
began seeking ways to extend the use of their fields, raise money and
and accommodate the growing number of working parents who can't get to
has been the answer....
Story in full at the Hartford Courant
There are other cities and town along L.I.S. with such structures.
New London Maritime Society takes over as New London Ledge Light owner
A tour of the lighthouse was held after the United States General
Services Administration transferred the deed to the lighthouse to the
New London Maritime Society at the society's Custom House Maritime
Museum...video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSXbo3yhldc.
Miss. River Reopened to Vessels After Oil
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 2, 2013
VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — The Coast Guard has reopened the Mississippi
River to vessel traffic in both directions after finishing the cleanup
of thousands of gallons of oil from a leaking barge.
Officials said in a news release Saturday that the safety zone has been
reduced to one mile on either side of the two barges that collided with
a railroad bridge near Vicksburg last Sunday, causing a leak from one
barge. Vessels are not permitted to pass or overtake other vessels
within the zone...story in full at NYTIMES.
Mississippi River Barge Backup Tops 1,000
After Oil Spill
January 30, 2013
(Reuters) - More than 1,000 barges were backed up on the Mississippi
River near Vicksburg, Mississippi, on Wednesday after a weekend barge
accident and oil spill forced the closure of the major shipping artery,
the U.S. Coast Guard said.
An 80,000-gallon tanker barge that struck a railroad bridge on Sunday
continued to leak crude oil, but cleanup crews have deployed 2,800 feet
of boom to contain the spill and airborne spotters have not detected
any oil outside the containment area.
Response crews will lighter the oil from the damaged barge before
removing the vessel from the river, but a timeline for a full reopening
of the waterway to commercial shipping traffic remains unclear.
"A timeline is really hard to establish with an operation like this
because there are so many factors, from getting the lightering
operation set up to getting the pumping operation going," said Coast
Guard spokesman Matthew Schofield.
"We want to make sure we're doing it in a safe and methodical manner:..story in full at NYTIMES.
Barge hits Miss. River bridge: Oil
Jan 28, 9:21 AM EST
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- The Coast Guard says a normally bustling stretch
of the Mississippi River remains closed to barge and ship traffic as
cleanup crews with booms work to remove an oily sheen near Vicksburg
after a barge with 80,000 gallons of oil hit a railroad bridge last
Coast Guard Lt. Ryan Gomez told The Associated Press on Monday that at
least 21 other vessels such as towboats and barges are stalled by the
river closing as crews with booms and a skimming device are removing
hundreds of gallons of oily water from the river...story in full at New London DAY.
threatens to halt critical
barge traffic on Mississippi
By DARRYL FEARS The Washington Post
published Jan 7, 2013
On a stretch of the Mississippi River, the U.S. Coast Guard has been
reduced to playing traffic cop.
For eight hours a day, shipping is allowed to move one way in the 180
miles of river between St. Louis, Mo., and Cairo, Ill., depending on
the hour. For the other 16 hours, boats go nowhere, because the river
is closed to traffic.
The mighty Mississippi, parched by the historic summer drought, is on
the verge of reaching a new low. That could mean that tugboats pushing
barges loaded with billions of dollars worth of cargo - enough to fill
half a million 18 wheelers - would not be able to make their way up and
down the river.
Through the night, contractors for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
remove rocks from a stretch near Thebes, Ill., that threaten to cut
boats to shreds. The corps has assured state officials, farmers and
coal barons who rely on the shipping that it can maintain the nine-foot
level it says makes navigation safe.
But those who rely on the river say they are worried nevertheless...story in full at Washington Post.
Obama urged to declare emergency on
By ALAN BJERGA Bloomberg News
Publication: The Day
Published 11/29/2012 12:00 AM
Updated 11/28/2012 11:55 PM
Washington - Shippers and lawmakers are pressuring President Obama to
declare a federal emergency along the Mississippi River, citing
potential "catastrophic consequences" in the Midwest if barge traffic
is curtailed by low water on the nation's busiest waterway.
Lawmakers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum
Institute urged Obama to tell the Army Corps of Engineers to hasten the
planned removal of submerged rocks near Cairo, Ill., that may impede
barge traffic at low water levels. The Corps also should stop its
seasonal restriction on the flow of Missouri River water into the
Mississippi, which it began last week, the groups said.
"We still got a lot of stuff to move down that Mississippi before
winter totally sets in," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said in an interview.
"They can release more water, sure they can."
Mississippi River barge traffic is slowing as the worst drought in five
decades combines with a seasonal dry period to push water levels to a
near-record low, prompting shippers including Archer-Daniels-Midland
Co. to seek alternatives. Computer models suggest that without more
rain, navigating the Mississippi will start to be affected Dec. 11 and
the river will reach a record low Dec. 22, said Corps spokesman Bob
Anderson, based in Vicksburg, Miss.
Barges on the Mississippi handle about 60 percent of the nation's grain
exports entering the Gulf of Mexico through New Orleans, as well as 22
percent of its petroleum and 20 percent of its coal. About $7 billion
worth of commodities usually travel on the Mississippi in December and
January, including $2.3 billion of agricultural products and $1.8
billion of chemical goods, according to the American Waterways
Operators and Waterways Council Inc.
An emergency declaration would help by directing the Corps to release
more water into the Mississippi and remove rock formations south of St.
Louis without following federal contracting practices that may delay
action, Harkin said.
...story in full at THE DAY.
After Drought, Reducing Water Flow
Could Hurt Mississippi River Transport
By JOHN SCHWARTZ, NYTIMES
November 26, 2012
The drought of 2012 has already caused restrictions on barge traffic up
and down the Mississippi River. But things are about to get a lot worse.
As part of an annual process, the Army Corps of Engineers has begun
reducing the amount of water flowing from the upper Missouri River into
the Mississippi, all but ensuring that the economically vital river
traffic will be squeezed even further. If water levels fall low enough,
the transport of $7 billion in agricultural products, chemicals, coal
and petroleum products in December and January alone could be stalled
“Without the river, we’re in a world of hurt,” said Kathy Mathers, a
spokeswoman for the Fertilizer Institute. About half of the spring
fertilizer that the industry sells to Midwestern farmers travels
upriver, she said, and options to get the fertilizer to the fields by
other means are few. “We know the rail cars aren’t there,” she said.
The corps reduces water flow from the upper Missouri every year as part
of its master plan for maintaining irrigation systems and meeting other
water needs of the region, which stretches from Montana to St. Louis.
This year the process began on Nov. 11, as the corps began reducing
water flows from the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, S.D. The flow has
already been reduced from 37,500 cubic feet per second to 26,500, and
will reach 12,000 by Dec. 11.
The plan, approved by Congress, has the power of law. “We do not have
the legal authority to operate the Missouri River solely for the
benefits of the Mississippi River,” said Monique Farmer, a spokeswoman
for the corps...story in full at NYTIMES.
The opposite of this?
In Midst of a Drought, Keeping Traffic Moving on the Mississippi
By JOHN SCHWARTZ, NYTIMES
August 19, 2012
ABOARD THE DREDGE POTTER, on the Mississippi River — This ship is
making sure that the Big River, shrinking under one of the worst
droughts in modern history, stays deep enough.
The Potter is scooping this stretch of the Mississippi River’s
navigation channel just south of St. Louis, the ship’s 32-foot-wide
head sucking up about 60,000 cubic yards of sediment each day and
depositing it via a long discharge pipe a thousand feet to the side in
a violent, muddy plume that smells like muck and summer.
The Army Corps of Engineers has more than a dozen dredging vessels
working the Mississippi this summer. Despite being fed by water flowing
in from more than 40 percent of the United States, the river is feeling
the ruinous drought affecting so much of the Midwest. Some stretches
are nearing the record low-water levels experienced in 1988, when river
traffic was suspended in several spots.
That is unlikely this year, because of careful engineering work to keep
the largest inland marine system in the world passable. But tow
operators are dealing with the shallower channel by hauling fewer
barges, loading them lighter and running them more slowly, raising
their costs. Since May, about 60 vessels have run aground in the lower
The low water is not just affecting the 500 million tons of cargo like
coal, grain and fertilizer that move up and down the river each year.
The owners of the American Queen, a paddle-wheel steamboat that takes
passengers on tours along the inland waterways, decided not to send the
boat below Memphis on a trip to Vicksburg, Miss., this month. The water
was deep enough, said Tim Rubacky, a company spokesman, but after
conferring with the corps and the Coast Guard, the company decided that
the likelihood of a barge accident and ensuing traffic closures would
be too great.
“It’s kind of like a truckful of watermelons spilling over on the
expressway,” Mr. Rubacky said. “Everything’s going to come to a halt.”
The boat tied up at Memphis and sent the passengers on to Vicksburg by
bus, he said.
The volume of water coming down the river is so much lower than normal
this summer that a wedge of salt water is creeping up the Mississippi
toward New Orleans, imperiling local water supplies drawn from the
river. The corps is building a sill — basically, a dam of sediment — in
the river below New Orleans low enough to block the flow of salt water
while letting boats pass...story in full at NYTIMES.
A New Flood, Some Old Truths
May 27, 2011
The thousands of people forced to abandon their homes in recent weeks
to floodwaters are victims not just of nature but of human error as
well. Years of mismanagement of the vast Mississippi River ecosystem —
the relentless and often inadvisable construction of levees and
navigation channels, the paving over of wetlands, the commercial
development of flood plains — have made the damage worse than it might
otherwise have been.
The Obama administration is now completing an overhaul of the
guidelines governing dams, levees and other water-related projects
built with federal money. In 2007, Congress ordered the guidelines,
unchanged since 1983, rewritten to require federal agencies to take
environmental as well as economic concerns into account.
Historically, projects had been shaped by two main factors: the Army
Corps of Engineers’ conviction that nature can be subdued by levees and
dams, and its reflexive green-lighting of any flood control project
that encouraged commercial or agricultural development. The new rules,
Congress said, should require the Corps and other federal agencies to
give equal weight to less easily measurable benefits like wildlife
habitat and to “nonstructural” solutions to flood control like
preserving wetlands, flood plains and other “natural systems.”
To give the Corps its due, it has performed nobly in the present
emergency. Its main-stem levees have held. Its decision to blow holes
in levees guarding the New Madrid floodway in Missouri clearly saved
Cairo, Ill., and other places downstream; similar maneuvers in
Louisiana helped protect New Orleans. These tactics had long been part
of Corps emergency plans, and they worked...editorial in full at NYTIMES.
Plan Drawn Back
May 28, 2005
By RINKER BUCK, Courant Staff Writer
NORTH CANAAN -- Environmentalists
and abutting landowners opposed to the Yale Farm Golf Club project won
a partial victory this week when the developers abruptly withdrew their
application for a permit before the North Canaan Conservation and
move on Thursday came just two
days before a critical vote before the commission and was made so that
the developers can relocate two holes away from a sensitive trout
The commission will now have to consider the proposal in hearings
to extend into the fall.
New York developer Roland W. Betts
has spent three years trying to persuade local, state and federal
to approve his plans for an 18-hole course on the grounds of a 780-acre
estate in Norfolk and North Canaan, in the face of growing local
to the project. But a court reversal of a local wetlands permit,
by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and well-financed
by a neighbors' group, the Canaan Conservation Coalition, have so far
EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers,
the final permitting authority for the project, have been especially
about holes 11 and 12. Even after one redesign, those two holes closely
followed the steep contours of Hollow Brook, which federal officials
classified as a "Class A" stream with intermittent populations of trout.
has insisted that he needs
the challenging terrain around the brook to create a championship
that would attract members willing to pay $100,000 or more in
fees, and he castigated experts provided by the opposition who said the
course could be redesigned away from the brook.
the Yale Farm development group
was forced to reconsider after federal officials asked it to explore
the holes in an area several hundred yards north of the brook...story in full at Hartford Courant.
Battle In North Canaan
August 1, 2004
By RINKER BUCK, Courant Staff Writer
CANAAN -- Catherine Gevers
is a former artistic director of Carnegie Hall in New York and now a
music consultant who, 11 years ago, followed her dreams and moved full
time into a gracious, 18th century house on a hilly, rural lane in this
remote northwest corner of the state.
evenings when the weather was
good, Gevers enjoyed nothing more than rounding up her basset hounds,
the long, white-graveled drive up on neighboring Yale Farm, and taking
in the spectacular views of Canaan Valley and the Berkshires to the
The land is so named because the farm was formed about a century ago
lands that had been part of a grant from Yale University.
up on Yale Farm, Gevers often
visited with her friends Robin and Henny Mead, the proprietors of the
immaculately preserved 780 acres and large manor house on the top of
Catherine Gevers doesn't walk
her dogs on Yale Farm anymore.
years ago, after Robin and Henny
Mead died suddenly, their three sons transferred control of Yale Farm
New York uber-developer and presidential friend Roland W. Betts, who
to turn the property into a championship golf course. The proposed Yale
Farm Golf Club has been mired in controversy since then, and this
Gevers and a group of abutting neighbors filed four lawsuits against
and local land-use commissions over the Yale Farm development...
On July 6, the Waterbury Republican
published an article quoting Stephen
D. DiLorenzo, the senior project manager who is reviewing the
Farm Golf Club file for the Army Corps.
on our meetings with the applicant
and the revisions he has submitted, EPA and Fish and Wildlife have all
along been telling him he needs to change the design and they haven't
down yet," DiLorenzo said. Both agencies, DiLorenzo indicated in the
were "leaning toward a denial" of permits for the project...story in full at Hartford Courant.
Date: March 20, 2002
No. CT 2002-42
Tim Dugan, 978-318-8264
Virginia Road, Concord, Massachusetts 01742-2751
Corps issues Cross Sound permit to place underground cable in Long
CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made a
issue a Section 10/404 permit to Cross Sound Cable Company to place a
in the Long Island Sound, a portion of which will be located in the
channel in New Haven Harbor, New Haven, Conn.
Cross Sound Cable Company, LLC of Westborough, Mass., applied for a
July 2000 to install and maintain an approximately 24-linear mile, high
current (HVDC) and fiber optic cable system within the seabed of New
Long Island Sound using the jet plow and directional drill method.
The District Engineer signed the permit on March 19. "After careful
by the Army
Corps of Engineers and other state and federal agencies, we have
activity is permittable under our jurisdiction of Section 10 of the
and Harbors Act
and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act," said Col. Brian Osterndorf,
the New England District. "Through review by Corps engineers and
consultation with other Federal, State and local agency
concluded that the proposed project will not impact the operation and
federal navigation channel in New Haven Harbor, and have minimal impact
on the marine
environment. The permit is issued with 23 special conditions that must
adhered to by the applicant. We thoroughly investigated navigation,
economic and other issues and impacts of the project in our evaluation."
The route of the cable will be from the New Haven Harbor Station, New
the decommissioned Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant at Brookhaven, N.Y.
The cable must be installed no less than six feet below the seabed or
an elevation of
minus 48 feet mean lower low water, whichever is greater, within the
Federal Navigation Channel in New Haven Harbor and to a minimum of four
the seabed of Long Island Sound outside of the New Haven Navigation
"Placing the cable under the Long Island Sound has been found to meet
permitting standards," Osterndorf said. "As part of the permit
requiring the proponent to place the cables at a minimum depth of 48
This will be 13
feet under the authorized depth of the existing Federal channel. This
ensure that the
cables do not impede navigation in the channel, nor will they impede
maintenance dredging to keep the channel open to navigation. We are
that will include enough room for a possible future deepening of the
if that were
to be authorized and funded."
The project purpose is to interconnect the electric system power market
presently managed by the independent systems operators of both New
York. This will enhance the existing power grids of the electric
states by adding a new bi-directional path for bulk power sales and
in and out of
Connecticut and New York. The cable will be located mainly within the
channel in New Haven Harbor. The landfall at the Shoreham is made
The cable will be buried using the jet plow method and/or directional
determined by the contractor. The applicant applied for a Corps permit
in July 2000. The
Corps issued a public notice for this project on June 24, 2001, with an
Aug. 23, 2001.
"We extended the public notice comment period in response to a request
Marine Fisheries Service," said Christine Godfrey, the Corps’ New
Regulatory Division chief. "We also held a public information meeting
New Haven to
fully understand local concerns and issues. The first proposal was to
the cable about
100 feet east of the channel. But due to potential impacts to shellfish
Connecticut Siting Council denied the request."
The federal channel was suggested so as to minimize any impact to
"There are 23 special conditions that are part of the Corps permit,"
Diane Ray, of the Corps’ New England District Regulatory Division.
"If future operations by the United States require the removal,
alteration, of the structures or work authorized, or if, in the opinion
of the Secretary of the
Army or his authorized representative, the structures or work could
obstruction to the free navigation of the navigable waters, the
will be required to
remove, relocate, or alter the structural work or obstructions," Ray
Cable installation is restricted to occur only between Oct. 1 and Jan.
15 or between April
1 and May 31 to protect winter flounder and summer flounder as well as
resources. Directional drilling operations as well as dredging of the
Shoreham, N.Y. are not subject to this condition.
"The permittee must revisit the cable route on three occasions, at
beginning approximately six months following the installation of the
to conduct a
reverification of the burial depth of the cable," Ray said. Each survey
will be recorded and
the results submitted to the Corps and Connecticut Department of
Protection (CT DEP). The permittee must contact CT DEP Marine Fisheries
(MFD) concerning the locations and date of MFD sampling programs and
a list of
potentially affected fishermen. The permittee must notify the affected
parties of the time
and location of cable installation.
The permittee must undertake three benthic-monitoring inspections of
L-593, the first beginning no later than six months after installation
of the cable, with the
second and third at six-month intervals thereafter. "The intent of the
monitoring will be to
determine the rate of sediment reconsolidation and biological
disturbed substrate," Ray said. Prior to installation and no later than
six months following
the charging of the cable, the permittee must conduct monitoring to
magnetic fields, temperature and habitat disturbance within four,
of the cable.
Also, the permittee or his agents may not formally pursue additional
this area for a five-year period pending evaluation of the cable
of the modeling of benthic recovery rates upon which this permit
"The permittee must develop a response plan that will address any
might arise during the installation of the cable," Ray said.
Also, there is a special condition to protect navigation interests. "No
person, firm, or
corporation will be held liable for damage to the cable system caused
the person, firm
or corporation unless the damage is caused by gross negligence or
actions," Ray said.
The permittee will place no restrictions on commercial aquaculture
operations in the area of the cable system other than during the cable
maintenance operations. And the permittee must post a bond for $1
emergency repairs or removal of the cable as determined necessary by
More information on the 23 special conditions are listed in the final
for the federal permit was filed with the Corps of Engineers in
with Section 10
of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 which provides for the federal
work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States, and Section
404 of the Clean
Water Act which regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material in
"The Corps regulates activities in waterways and wetlands under the
laws," Godfrey said. "The permit program is designed to ensure that our
resources are safeguarded, that the nation’s water resources are used
interest of the public and that environmental, social and economic
of the public
"The decision to issue a permit was based on an evaluation of the
the proposed activity in the public interest," Godfrey said. "That
national concern for both protection and use of important resources.
to the proposal were considered. Placing the cable in the federal
does not set a
precedent. We look at each permit application on a case-by-case basis.
In this case, it
was found to meet the Federal permitting standards. It will have
impact to the
marine environment and no significant impact on navigation or channel
future channel deepening."