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Natural gas project details still in the works

Published 11:43 am, Thursday, March 20, 2014
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Three months after town officials and Yankee Gas signed a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of natural gas use in New Canaan, there still is no definite plan or date for the project to begin.

Yankee Gas spokesman Mitch Gross said the details of the project, such as routes and time frames, would all depend on the demand. The company is encouraging residents to indicate their interest by signing up at newcanaan.iwantnaturalgas.com.

Gross said the company needs to have a thorough 10-year plan before it kicks off the project.

"We need to be absolutely sure everything is ready to go," Gross said. "A lot of people are working very hard on this. The plan has to be solid from top to bottom and ready to go."

Since the site was launched in December, about 700 people have signed up, according to Gross. He also said the company would provide an update on the project soon.

Meanwhile, the lack of information might cause a timing conflict between the project and the town's Department of Public Works' pavement management program schedule.

As part of the program, the department is seeking to rebuild and rehabilitate a number of town roads in 2014 and 2015, but some of them are in the path of upcoming natural gas pipes around town.

At their Feb. 26 meeting, Town Council members questioned Assistant Director of Public Works Tiger Mann about the issue.

"I see Parish Road, Parish Lane" on the schedule, Councilman John Engel said.

"You're going to pave those roads. Those people are going to ask for natural gas ... Are we going to end up redoing it?"

The town's pavement management program is scheduled to begin early this spring, but Mann said there's a possibility that certain roads, which might be on the natural gas path, would be deferred.

"We're trying to avoid any of the areas where" the natural gas pipes might be, Mann said. "It's an unfortunate circumstance. It's a fantastic thing that gas is coming to town, but it just happens that these roads are in the way."

The natural gas would come from a pipe just to the west of town, in North Stamford.

"The plan that I know is that they're coming down Frogtown (Road), getting into the center of town, hopefully hooking up the Town Hall, and then marching down South Avenue to get the schools, the Y, possibly the church," Mann said at the meeting. "After that, they will get all the branching roads off of South Avenue."

Engel said he knows several businesses downtown whose owners have signed up, but not heard back from Yankee Gas yet.

Tucker Murphy, the Chamber of Commerce executive director and a member of the Town Council, said the town's merchants are interested in getting natural gas, but they haven't received feedback from Yankee Gas so far.

"I know there are still some i's that need to be dotted," Murphy said. "Also, people are still unaware ... Maybe they don't know that by signing up you're just saying you're interested."

Engel also seemed concerned about Fieldcrest Road, which is across from Saxe Middle School, being on the pavement program schedule for this year.

"I would imagine one of the first places that would be taking gas is Saxe," he said. "So Fieldcrest Road should basically get in line right now and request that gas line right now."

The roads that would be part of the program this year include Laurel Road, Lost District Drive, Parish Road, Turtle Back Road and Valley Road.

The program will cost $4.5 million, which will be funded through bonding.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson