There is disagreement among officials over how best to restore a New Canaan dam that dates back to the 19th century.
The Grupes reservoir dam was built in 1871.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and local officials say the Grupes de New Canaan dam needs restoration, but local officials say the state’s plan will cause problems for neighbors.
New Canaan’s First Tax District received a permit from DEEP to increase the height of the dam by 4 feet and build an embankment, or berm, to prevent water from overflowing the banks.
“Upstream neighbors are concerned, especially on both sides of the reservoir, about the impact on their line of sight,” Chris Schipper said.
Schipper chairs the city’s Conservation Commission and was president of the New Canaan Land Trust, which has a wildlife sanctuary near the reservoir. Schipper says the planned restoration could leave the reserve flooded and unusable, especially in the spring or during heavy rains.
“If the berm does hold water, it would flood parts of this beautiful land trust property, which is visited by neighbors and land trust members,” he said.
Funding for the project is expected to come from the state Department of Public Health. New Canaan officials require an environmental impact statement before the land is dumped.
“You have to collect information; you do what you call a sense of truth or a sense of territory. You walk the property, you assess it for its habitat, its wildlife,” Schipper said.
Schipper says acres of habitat and one of the best views in town are at stake.
“This is one of the oldest landholdings in New Canaan, one of the earliest donations received,” he said.
DEEP sent News 12 a statement saying in part that “the agency held four days of public hearings and ultimately concluded the dam’s competing safety, and environmental interests were balanced with respect to the design of the project.” .