By Larry Clark
On Wednesday, August 10, the New Britain Common Council voted to allow the Mayor to go into negotiations for the sale of the Patton Brook Well, despite the protest outside Town Hall before the Common Council meeting and multiple town members who spoke against selling the water asset.
The vote on Wednesday allows Mayor Stewart to begin negotiating with Southington to sell not only the well land, but New Britain’s water rights to the well also.
Protesters began gathering outside city hall in downtown New Britain around 5:00 p.m. and rallied until about 6:40 p.m.. Chants of “Who’s water?” “Our water!” and “Don’t sell the well!” could be heard from across the street.
The protest also features a speaking section in the middle where invited guests and protesters could speak out one highlight of the speak out was an eleven year old New Britain Student named Jordan who spoke out calling the selling of the Patton Brook Well a “Bad deal” and said that the Council’s choice wasn’t looking out for the future of New Britain or its children.
After the speak out was finished, the group proceeded into the council meeting for public hearing of the Common Council meeting. Many people spoke out against the selling of the well, and the selling of watershed land to Tilcon, for mining to later be turned into a reservoir.
When the Aldermen and women had their chance to respond to the comments, they claimed that those speaking weren’t informed and on that night they were voting solely on the selling of the Patton Brook Well. However, much of the controversy that came up in the Common Council discussion was the value of the well, and the water rights to it.
“The state has what is called a fixed asset schedule that we file. The actual value of the property is $60,862.63 and that was included in the city report in 2014/15,” said Alderman Robert Smedley.”
“So, that is actual value of that 1.6 acre parcel of land, the fence, and the brick building that sits there,” he said.
However, the city is also selling their rights to take 1.2 millions of gallons of water a day from the aquifer at the Patton Brook Well.
Aldermen Emmanuel Sanchez, Jim Sanders, and Kristian Rosado all said they didn’t know the value of the water rights to the Patton Brook Well. This caused Alderman Sanders to vote no, having said he would prefer an independent study to be performed on the value of the water rights.
The Patton Brook Well is a well on a piece of property owned by New Britain in the Town of Southington. The City of New Britain air-gaped their withdrawal pipe to the well, when the valve was leaking. Southington had been leasing the well, until they decided not to lease anymore a few years back. Two years ago, Southington offered to buy the well at $1.3 million, but when they came back this year they offered $1 million.
At the Common Council meeting, some of the Aldermen spoke up saying that the money that was gained from the sale of the well to Southington was going to go back into the water system to update and repair the wells that New Britain owns in Bristol. This was not part of the language that the Common Council voted on this past Wednesday.