Town officials say that in the face of changes in project management, they’re focused on working with utility company officials amid the multiyear natural gas installation in New Canaan.
In recent weeks, municipal officials have received the most complaints about the state of Main Street and Gower Road, two heavily traveled roads affected by the installation, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann.
“So we are asking them to expedite that,” Mann told members of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure during their April 12 meeting, held via videoconference.
“The unfortunate thing is that Eversource went through a management change, so our longtime project manager Charlie Frangis, who did a fantastic job ushering this project in the past two years or so—he was instrumental in getting rid of Ferreira and bringing in Burns—he has been relocated to their central or northern district, and we have five or six new managers down here taking over the project, unfortunately.”
The comments came during an update to the committee on the status of the natural gas project.
The long-planned installation of natural gas lines through downtown New Canaan was thrown off by the COVID-19 pandemic. The town is in the fourth year of the Eversource-led expansion, which brought service to 30 roads in 2018 and extended an additional five miles in 2019. Another five miles had been planned for 2020 when the pandemic set in, and town officials have been pushing for Eversource to continue the project, including into the downtown.
Municipal officials have called for understanding from residents as multiple infrastructure projects get underway this spring and summer, including a natural gas line on Main Street between East and Locust Avenues, and then down Locust to Forest Street.
The town is “still working with them on upper Elm Street, Grove Street, Pine Street—that area,” Mann said.
“And then with the new managers, I am trying to accommodate our final restoration of the roads that are slated for this year, taking into account that they lost last year and try to make sure that everyone who wants service gets service,” he said. “I have a petition on Old Studio Road right now and I have a woman helping me try to coordinate through there to make sure there’s about half a dozen houses that still want gas. So we are trying to get gas there there and then we can bring that road forward, similar to what we did on others.”
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said at the meeting that Eversource had just announced a new CEO “and I am going to write a letter to him congratulating him but also thanking him for their commitment to New Canaan, both on the gas side but they also own Aquarion water.”
“So for better or worse, Eversource is a real necessary partner for us, and it’s frustrating to have to push them so much to get them to do what they should be doing,” he said. “But I just want to mention, there is a lot of opportunity with Eversource but also a lot of frustration.”