Kane Addresses Watertown Officials Regarding Flood Plain Property [Waterbury Republican-American]

October 7, 2011

Article as it appeared in the Waterbury Republican-American

WATERTOWN — Town leaders are floating the possibility of acquiring property and moving some businesses out of Steele Brook’s flood plain as a remedy to recent flooding there.

On Thursday, the town’s legislative delegation met with the Steele Brook Coalition, a group of business owners along the brook, to discuss what can be done.

Numerous businesses along the stream reported flooding after Tropical Storm Lee passed over the area in early September.

State Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, spoke for about 10 minutes on the issue.

He said he had met with Town Manager Charles Frigon beforehand. Kane said he was informed that the brook below the bridge at Riverside Street was originally designed to handle a 100-year flood, but the brook above that was not.

State Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, speaks during a meeting of the Steele Brook Coalition on flooding along the brook. Town leaders are floating the possibility that some buildings may have to be moved out of the flood plain. Photo by Sam cooper Republican-American

“So what you’re doing is bottlenecking that water before it gets to that channel beyond the bridge,” Kane explained. “To fix that, you would have to widen to the same width above the bridge.”

That would require acquiring property and moving some businesses, he said. Upstream, Kane said, changes to the river have created some problems. He said when the Watertown Plaza was constructed, the river channel was moved from what would now be the front of Marshall’s, a clothing store, to the back of the store.

“Some people have suggested Marshall’s possibly move the property up and put the parking behind it,” Kane said.

A bridge over the brook connecting to UNICO field may also have to be replaced, he said.

Coalition co-founder Day Palmer suggested widening the brook by using a portion of UNICO field, thereby avoiding the need to move any businesses or purchase property.

The meeting appeared to solidify the town’s political establishment in support of finding some sort of resolution for the problem.

Rep. Sean Williams, R-Watertown, and Robert Michalik, a district director for U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy, D-5th district, also attended, along with five members of the Town Council and Economic Development Coordinator Joseph Seacrist.

The group is meeting again next week. Sue Atkins, coalition co-founder, said Town Manager Charles Frigon is planning on attending.

“We just want to (fix) this practically,” she said. “We appreciate your support and we’re going to continue to push this until hopefully something gets done.”