Conservation commission: Hold off on Brox road repair

MILFORD – The town Conservation Commission says there is no rush to deal with a stream on the Brox property and has asked the town to hold off on the work.

The commission’s comment came after the Board of Selectmen, at its April 27 meeting, agreed to ask the public works department to fix the Birch Brook stream crossing after Police Chief Michael Viola told the board that the town-owned land is difficult for emergency responders to access because a road has been washed away.

“Time is of the essence in an emergency,” the chief said.

Brox is 270 acres and much of it is “remote and difficult to access,” he said. “Citizens using it for recreation could experience some kind of medical emergency” and because of the poor road conditions emergency providers can’t get from one side to the other, from the two main points of access – Heron Pond Road on the west and Perry Road on the east.

Board members agreed during the discussion with Viola that the Department of Public Works could clear a blockage created by beavers, build a device to prevent further beaver damage and rebuild that section of roadway.

Then town officials asked and received permission from the state Department of Environmental Services to do emergency repairs on the culvert.

Two days later, Conservation Commission Chairwoman Audrey Fraizer wrote town officials a letter asking them to take their time.

The road has been washed out for 11 years, and there is no emergency, she said in a phone interview.

“We want a really thought-out plan. My concern is that we make sure we deal with the wetlands complex correctly,” she said.

The culvert is on a tributary to Birch Brook, and because the culvert is blocked, the flow of water goes around the culvert, creating a new channel and flooding the road.

“It has been possible to cross the area by foot or mountain bike but not by emergency vehicles,” said town officials in their request to the DES’s Wetlands Bureau. “Recent increased flows and continued beaver activity have made the access nearly impossible for emergency and safety providers with equipment.”

But Fraizer said there is no emergency access problem and no need to rush, because the road has been washed out since 2004.

“The urgency of this project is unwarranted given the facts of the site,” she said in an April 29 letter to town officials.

Several commission members recently walked the area, she said, “and everyone had a similar opinion that there is no emergency,”

The town needs to look at the entire system of streams and dams from an engineering and environmental point of view, she said, before working on only one part of the problem.

Fraizer said the commission is asking the DPW to attend its May 14 meeting to explain the work they plan to do.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.