Land buy moves ahead: paves way for dredging duck ponds

Milford’s Board of Aldermen voted Monday night to purchase 10 acres of land next to the city transfer station that could be used for storage during major storms and, more immediately, to store sand dredged from three city ponds in the next few months.

Several Republican aldermen spoke against spending the money now, when the state is threatening to cut grants to the city and Milford has initiated a hiring freeze. Alderman Anthony Giannattasio said the city should use property it took through foreclosure on Plains Road and not spend money to buy additional land.

“We should be in a land acquisition freeze,” Giannattasio said. “It’s truly a bad time; it’s really the worst time.”

But Public Works Director Chris Saley said the Plains Road property might not qualify for the permits needed to store the material, and the Oronoque Road site conveniently abuts the city transfer station. He said the 10 acres at 1125 Oronoque Road is perfect, and per the mayor’s directive it will be “cost neutral.” Saley said the city can purchase the property, and then lease a portion of it it out for 10 years to cover the purchase price.

The site is needed, Mayor Ben Blake said, to store green material, such as branches and logs, after big storms. After Sandy and Irene, that kind of material was taken to Eisenhower Park, near Foote Field, but there has been concern that the area is in a floodplain, and if there is a flood that material could clog the Wepawaug River, which runs through the park.

Dredging the duck ponds downtown may actually seem more important to residents because the ponds are noticeably in need of cleaning, as sand and other debris have filled them up.

“The ducks have been walking on the water, like Jesus,” Blake said.

Saley said 15,000 cubic yards of material are expected to be dredged from the three ponds: the North Street Duck Pond, the duck pond behind Milford City Hall, and the pond behind Stonebridge Restaurant. That will require an area 300 feet by 100 feet to store the material.

The aldermen voted 8-6 in favor of entering into discussions to purchase the Oronoque Road property, which will first have to be soil tested.

The property, which is part of a much larger parcel, has been used as a gravel processing facility by Beard Sand and Concrete. The business is owned and operated by Suzio-York Hill, but according to city records, the property is owned by Davis Holding Company of 127 Boston Post Road, Milford, which lists James R. Beard as president. The assessor values the full property at $2.5 million.