2013-11-07 / Front Page

Two Mile Corner Considered

By Theresa Hillman

The Middletown Town Council preceded its regular monthly meeting on Monday Nov. 4 , with a presentation on a project that began as a reconstruction of Two Mile Corner and has since broadened its scope to deal with demands by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) to protect and improve local drinking water.

Together, the RIDOT and Vanasse Hangen Brustin, Inc. ( VHB) presented plans to build a gravel wet vegetated treatment system (GWVTS) to address the requirement to reduce storm-water pollutants contributed by the 805-acre watershed around the Two Mile Corner site. This run-off presently seeps into Bailey Brook, the primary tributary to Green End Pond which is a public water supply. Jamie Pisano of VHB said, “The last time this was evaluated it was considered to be at high risk.” The efficacy of this GWVTS in removing a variety of pollutants is expected to be very high.

With RIDEM’s demand to reduce 97% of bacteria-impaired waters from existing sources also comes a $265,000 non-point source grant to make that happen. RIDOT will pay for the rest of the construction of the 1.2-acre gravel wetland in the Kempenaar Valley, with the town committing to maintenance after 2015. Since the monies must be spent before Sept. 2014, approval for the plan will be sought at the next regular council meeting on Nov. 18 at the Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Councilor M. Theresa Santos described the current use of the Valley parcel that runs along High Street and O’Neil Boulevard and asked about fencing and dogs’ access to the area. VHB representative Jeff Peterson said that while underground gravel filters road and animal pollutants, the proposed surface is vegetation and will be a “meadow” that will preserve the open space.

The Council meeting (with all but Paul Rodrigues present) began with a public forum session in which resident Dennis Turano described piecemeal roadwork adversely affecting his Easton’s Point neighborhood. He explained that the Tuckerman Avenue area has been under construction for 2 1/2 years and still has an expectation of winter water line breakage. He said, “I’d like a long-term decision to fix the problem once and for all.”

Agreement on a vision of land use that would create a system of trails through the Kempenaar Valley was questioned when resident Carol Cummings addressed the Council. She spoke in opposition to these plans because potential maintenance costs would “be a drain on citizens.” Town Administrator Shawn Brown explained that the money is already set aside to match the hoped-for $200,000 RIDEM grant that would facilitate the building of a parking lot and construction of up to 15,000 feet of walking trails, with a buffer zone and space for agriculture. He described the proposed grant application as “in keeping with the town’s goals to conserve the property to allow for passive use.” He explained that current nonagricultural use is not allowed, and that this project would alleviate that problem and allow residents “to walk across the area and enjoy.” Vice President Robert Silvia said, “We own it. We have an inherited liability. We have an opportunity to form a partnership with DEM. This could benefit us.” Councilors agreed to let the application go forward for now.

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