Borough takes title of pond, dam

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The borough has taken the title to this dam and a pond on Warren Avenue. –LUKE MARSHALL
The borough has taken the title to this dam and a pond on Warren Avenue. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted Oct. 1 to take the title to the pond and damn on Warren Avenue.

Borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said taking the title would hopefully be the last step in a problem that has been troubling the borough for more than 20 years.

The issue came to the borough’s attention in the early ‘80s when Warren Avenue residents began complaining that their basements were flooding. The source of the flooding was traced to The Ridge, a subdivision being developed uphill from Warren Avenue by Vincent Celentano, according to Republican American archives. 

Celentano built a pond to catch rainwater, but it was too small for the amount of water that was coming down the hill. In 1984, Celentano also built a dam around the properties, but this was not enough to stop the flooding.

The state ordered Celentano’s company, Ridge Development, to fix the dam and, in 1992, when he had failed to do so, the state took the company to court and won a judgment against it.

However, upon winning the judgment, the state discovered that Celentano had transferred ownership to Cel-Mor Investments, of which he was the president.

Cel-Mor Investments later lapsed, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection had to wait for the state Supreme Court to rule they were allowed to sue both Celentano and his company.

DEEP sued Celentano in 2009 and the case was ruled in DEEP’s favor in June 2011. Celentano had to give a $300,000 cash bond to the borough, make repairs to the dam and pay $30,000 in fines for punitive damages. The settlement also placed a $60,000 lien on Celentano’s property.

The bond was used to pay contractors and engineers who reconstructed the dam.

Since the dam has been reconstructed there has not been any problems with it, Fitzpatrick said.

“We’ve had it inspected. It’s gone through all the hurricanes with no issues,” Fitzpatrick said.

Public Works Director James Stewart agreed the pond and dam are now able to handle water from severe storms.

“Obviously we went through those large storms in the last couple of years and the pond had no issues. It didn’t even overflow. None of the neighbors had any drainage issues, which they would regularly have with the old pond. Even when it didn’t overflow they would have drainage issues because of the piping under the ground. Now all the drainage is redirected down Warren Avenue,” Stewart said.

Although there are no current problems, the bond has not expired and Fitzpatrick recommended keeping it in place. The bond, which has approximately $37,000 left in it, will be returned to Celentano at the end of the term, according to Stewart.

“We still have a cash bond arrangement for a year, so we are holding money in the event that there’s a problem with the dam,” Fitzpatrick said.