Mansfield runs dry as summer’s effects continue

Construction crews are seen at The Oaks on the Square apartment complex in Storrs Center on Aug. 27, 2015. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

A well supplying water to parts of Mansfield ran dry Tuesday as the town continued to push water conservation measures, according to town officials.

Town manager Matt Hart told members of the Mansfield Town Council at a bimonthly meeting Tuesday night that one of the town’s deep-drilled wells supplying water to the public works garage and the Mansfield Animal Shelter has been depleted.

“We’re going to have to drill another well to serve both of those facilities,” Hart said. “That’s a pretty unusual occurrence. That hasn’t happened at that location certainly in many years.”

There is not a cost estimate for drilling a new well at this time, Hart said. He added that the town will provide temporary water to the affected facilities starting tomorrow. No residents have been affected by the well’s failure.

There is currently no concern of dry conditions affecting the town’s other wells, though the town will continue to monitor the water supply closely as a result of the unexpected well failure, Hart said.

Water conservation measures will remain in effect for Mansfield residents “until further notice,” Hart told council members.

Residents who utilize water at the University of Connecticut face mandatory restrictions, including limitations on watering lawns and washing driveways as well as a ban on filling pools and washing cars. In addition, residents who use any water supply, public or private, are encouraged to “voluntarily conserve water,” according to a water conservation alert the town issued on Sept. 3.

UConn has continued to maintain the water conservation alert it issued in late July in response to dry conditions. The university’s Phase IA alert has not been heightened, likely due in part to significant rain in the past three days.

Storrs Center development update

The final certificate of occupancy for Phase II of Storrs Center will be issued Wednesday morning, Hart said. This completes all residential development in the phase. However, business permits in Phase II are still being issued.

The focus is quickly pivoting to Phase III, which includes residential apartments and townhouses behind the main buildings. These are scheduled for completion by late 2016 or early 2017, Hart said.

Mansfield is also grappling with how to handle increasing parking demands. Hart said the town is experiencing “growing pains” and needs to find long-term solutions for shoppers and restaurant customers in search of daytime parking.

“Many of the spaces are being taken up by folks who live in the apartments or construction workers,” Hart said.

One of Hart’s biggest concerns is reckless vehicle operation in Storrs Center, with some drivers making illegal U-turns and parking on the wrong side of the road. This makes an already bad situation that much more difficult to address, Hart said.

New schools superintendent in Mansfield

Kelly Lyman, the new superintendent of Mansfield schools, addressed town council members during the meeting Tuesday night. She said her most significant draw to the Mansfield school system was the community’s emphasis on the value of education.

Lyman also said another major factor for her was having UConn and its numerous educational resources nearby, allowing significant collaboration between Mansfield schools and the university. Having “several graduate degrees” from UConn, Lyman is more than familiar with what the university has to offer.

“Somebody said to me today when you work in a mill town, you talk about the town taking on sort of the persona of the mill,” Lyman said. “Here, the mill is the university. And I think that’s why Mansfield is a community interested and dedicated to ensuring their children have a good education.”

Lyman plans to meet soon with the curriculum and instruction department in the UConn School of Education to develop plans for greater cooperation.

Construction on State Route 275

The Connecticut Department of Transportation will continue construction on the bridge over the Eagleville Lake Dam on State Route 275. The DOT plans to close the bridge on Monday to expedite progress. UConn commuters and faculty may also be affected, as traffic will be rerouted on both sides of the bridge, Hart said.

Miscellaneous notes

Mayor Betsy Patterson was not present at Tuesday night’s meeting. She was in Washington, D.C. with the UConn women’s basketball team, attending a White House ceremony to congratulate the program on its 10th national championship, deputy mayor Paul Shapiro said.

Construction on a new playground at the Mansfield Community Center will be completed during Columbus Day weekend. The town is looking for volunteers to help with the process, Hart said.

There were no public comments at the meeting. Councilman Alex Marcellino called it a “quiet night."


Kyle Constable is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kyle.constable@uconn.edu. He tweets @KyleConstable.