Power lines would cut through Mansfield Hollow State Park
Administrators of a private preschool say they will be forced to relocate if Connecticut Light & Power carries out its current design for bringing new power lines through Mansfield.
Kathleen Krider, director of the Mount Hope Montessori School, brought this news to the Town Council on Monday night.
The school opened 47 years ago. The school at 48 Bassetts Bridge Road was built in 1975.
The CL&P plan will bring construction and new overhead wires “within 215 feet of Mt. Hope Montessori’s front doors,” Krider said.
Such a major construction project – and the presence of high tension wires near a preschool – will drive away parents and undermine the school’s ability to carry out its programs, Krider said.
“We will, within one year, cease to exist,” she said.
She added that Mt. Hope Montessori is willing to work with CL&P. When pressed by a council member to be more specific, Krider said that if forced to relocate, the school’s administrators hope CL&P will help foot the bill.
Krider’s concerns are among many that have emerged in response to a proposed $251 million expansion plan known as the CL&P Interstate Reliability Project.
Northeast Utilities, in collaboration with National Grid , is planning four power transmission projects they say will strengthen the reliability of the power grid in New England.
The projects will be constructed in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Connecticut Light & Power, a NU company, is responsible for this state’s portion of the project.
The preferred route in Connecticut (Option A) cuts through the southern part of Mansfield, which includes the area of the Mansfield Hollow Dam.
The Friends of Mansfield Hollow have gone on record as opposed to the project’s design. A letter to the Town Council from President Betty Robinson says the construction area would have “overwhelmingly negative effects” on both wildlife and recreational activities in the “big back yard” that is Mansfield Hollow State Park.
The group also criticizes CL&P’s plans to increase the height of the transmission lines by 200 feet, because it means widening the current right-of-way, which would diminish the scenic beauty of the area and affect the local ecology.
A vote for CL&P buying Mt. Hope Montessori school
The Mansfield Agriculture Committee is worried about farms in the proposed construction area, as well as town-owned acreage preserved as farmland.
In its memo, the committee notes that, “Fields on the north and south sides of Bassetts Bridge Road in Mansfield Center contain some of the best farmland in Mansfield. They are leased by two local farms for alfalfa production. The field on the south side of this road is protected by an agricultural-use-only easement… The second area of concern is cropland on the Stearns Farm (Mountain Dairy).”
The committee also mentions Mt. Hope Montessori School, saying that CL&P has proposed alternate routes to avoid the school area. A better idea, they say, is for CL&P to buy the school: “…these [alternative] proposals would disturb more farmland than the original proposal and would require excessive funds… The committee recommends that the school be purchased by CL&P at a price that would allow the school to be relocated. This would cost less than the alternative routes,” their memo states.
The Mansfield Conservation Commission also has many objections to the project. One is that there doesn’t seem to be much benefit for Mansfield: “It appears to hold little benefit for Mansfield or northeast Connecticut; much of Mansfield’s power originates from the Millstone Point plants to the south of Mansfield. A second line might increase the reliability of the service in northeast Connecticut, however the additional capacity the proposed new lines will provide is mostly destined for areas west of Mansfield, including Fairfield County.”
A chance to ask CL&P questions
To air some of these concerns, the Town Council will invite CL&P to send representatives to a special meeting on Nov. 10 at 6 p.m., that will precede the council’s regular meeting. At that time, CL&P will have the opportunity to respond to comments already submitted by advisory boards and the general public, as well as new issues raised at that meeting.
For more details about CL&P’s plans, see: “NU plans Mansfield meeting on $251M transmission project“ published Sept. 26, 2008 in Mansfield Today.
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