STRATFORD, Conn. – Stratford’s state legislative delegation is asking the state for help in saving a $10 million grant to dredge Stratford’s harbor at the base of the Housatonic River.
The lawmakers are calling on the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to execute a five-year memorandum of understanding with the Connecticut Audubon Society to monitor the piping plover population in the area of the base of the Housatonic River.
If the state does not act quickly, the $10 million grant the legislators worked for will be in jeopardy, said a statement from Reps. Laura Hoydick, Ben McGorty and Joe Gresko and Sens. Kevin Kelly and Ed Gomes.
The legislators sent a letter to DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee this week, asking for the agency to lean forward in securing the necessary MOU.
The grant funds are aimed at creating an 18-foot by 200-foot deep harbor at the base of the Housatonic River in Stratford.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requiring that the MOU be executed before dredging will be permitted.
If the project is not executed by the end of October, the $10 million would be lost.
“This dredging project has been a paramount focus of Stratford’s legislative delegation for many years,” said Hoydick. “The proposed dredging will enhance Stratford’s capacity as a functioning port along Long Island Sound. It would be terrible if we forfeited the $10 million grant we worked to obtain because this memorandum was not in place.”
“We are naturally very concerned that this essential aspect of the agreement to move the dredging forward takes place,” said McGorty. “We need to make sure this project stays on track and isn’t stalled.”
“The dredging project is vitally important not only for Stratford, but also for all of Connecticut,” Gresko said. “Keeping the Housatonic River navigable is critical to the long-term success of our state.”
“The Housatonic River and Long Island Sound are two of our region’s most valuable resources for economic development, recreational activity and environmental beauty,” said Kelly. “Dredging the river and our small harbor is critical to its sustainability going forward. The state must keep this project on track while the funding is in place.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called for dredging in the Housatonic in Stratford and Milford because of low water depth, the result of years of the natural shoaling process, and storm events.
Sand is now clogging the 18-foot deep main channel of the river, rendering it only 5 feet deep in some areas. The Army Corps has proposed removing up to 300,000 cubic yards of sandy material to allow for proper passage of vessels.
The proposed work is scheduled to last from Oct. 1 into February 2017. The material to be dredged has been tested for contaminants, and has been deemed suitable to deposit at Hammonasset Beach.