Redding aims to inspect Gilbert and Bennett Dam which could harm businesses and the environment if it fails

REDDING – The Selectmen board is considering a proposal to inspect the Gilbert and Bennett factory pond dam which could be dangerous if it fails.

First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton said the dam was “long overdue for inspection” because the previous owner, Georgetown Land Development Corporation, had not had it assessed since 2015. The latest emergency action plan has was established in 2017.

The dam – classified as a “High risk” under class C from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – must be inspected and have an emergency action plan updated every two years that details the actions to be taken in the event of a failure or of dam failure.

“We’re going to have to do both projects, and currently the dam is rated in fair condition,” Pemberton said, noting that although it is in “fair condition” there could be significant damage if it. came to fail.

“Any flooding in this area poses a significant environmental risk to the Norwalk River,” she said.

If the dam failed, the flooding would “definitely have an impact on businesses” and the debris that descended could potentially damage the walls of the river, while pushing contaminants into the water, she said.

The city won a multi-year legal battle last year over millions of dollars in unpaid taxes on the ownership of the Gilbert and Bennett yarn mill, which Redding took over in February and plans to develop.

Charles Lee, deputy director of DEEP, said the “fair” classification means there is “really no gap” but the owner must continue to monitor the structure. Tighe and Bond, the engineering firm hired to complete the inspection in 2015, made several recommendations that Lee noted were important to act on.

Previous recommendations included removing debris from the downstream channel and weir, repairing cracks in the concrete cap of a drive wall, and installing a valve to reduce pressure. The report noted “seeps” under an abandoned building downstream, as well as deteriorated coating in one section.

It is not known whether the previous owners followed these recommendations, Lee said.

The city recently consulted the same company on the proposal for a future inspection and an updated contingency plan, which Pemberton and council are considering for their next June meeting.

Pemberton said she hopes the city can move forward with the plan and get the job done over the summer.

Inspection of the dam alone would cost $ 3,600, but Tighe and Bond’s joint proposal would include both the inspection and emergency plan and cost around $ 6,500, Pemberton explained at a council meeting. administration Monday evening.

Pemberton said the city will fund this expense using money it receives from tenants at the Gilbert and Bennett property. To date, the city has raised approximately $ 28,700 from tenants which has been put into a special income fund.

The dam appraisal is part of the city’s property remediation for its future renovation, a redevelopment that the city expects to be a multi-year progression.

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