State green lights road changes for Family Y
Published 3:16 pm, Wednesday, July 21, 2010
"Yeah, it's a good day," said Iain Bruce, president of the Westport Weston Family Y Board of Directors. "This is the last major permitting process that we have to go through."
"It has been a long road with a lot of steps, but this is a big step and we're delighted," Bruce said.
The plans for exit 41 of the Merritt Parkway call for the creation of a two-lane exit ramp, which would be located 80 feet east of its current location. The ramp would have space for 50 cars in case traffic backs up. A traffic light would also be installed at the intersection of Sunny Lane and the narrow lane would be widened.
One of the only questions raised during the STC hearing, according to Don Bergmann, a Westport resident who is aligned with "Y Downtown," an organization that opposes the Family Y's move to Mahackeno, pertained to what was perceived as a change to the drainage plans involved in the new traffic patterns for Exit 41 and the surrounding area. Bergmann, who attended the hearing, said it was questioned whether the plans presented to the STC were different than those that were endorsed by the town. This same question was raised during a recent meeting of the Board of Selectmen, when it was acting as the town's traffic authority. That change appears to have diverted drainage more directly into Poplar Plains Brook, Bergmann said.
The concern here, Bergmann noted, is that Poplar Plains Brook is currently listed by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as an "impaired" waterway.
Given that it was hard to hear what was said at the STC hearing, Bergmann said he has requested a record, or transcript, of the proceedings so that he can better understand what the STC's response was to the question about any modifications made to drainage plans and the potential impact on the environment.
Once that information is in hand, Bergmann said, a decision would be made about how to proceed. Still, he added, "We're probably going to pursue this point further with conservation."
Bruce said he was not surprised that opponents of the Family Y's move to Mahackeno are continuing to question the plans, but he was disappointed.
The drainage issue, he said, "is yet another red herring thrown up by the opposition."
"They never run out of objections."
Nevertheless, Bruce expressed confidence for what lies ahead.
"The only thing we have left to do from the sort of process point of view is to win the lawsuits that have been filed," he said, in reference to the four lawsuits that have been levied against town approvals of the project.
Three of those suits were consolidated and heard before a judge in May. Bruce said a decision is expected in the next few months. The remaining suit, involving the town's Planning and Zoning Commission decicion, will likely be heard this year, he added.