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Manresa Island: Forum to focus on what's next

Photo by File Photo

With plans to close the power plant on Manresa Island off Norwalk Harbor, city and state officials plan a public forum on the property's future next Wednesday.

The future of Manresa Island has been a topic of public speculation since was announced last spring that the NRG power plant on the island in Norwalk Harbor would be shut down.

To help guide the city's future plans for the island once the plant is fully deactivated, local and state officials plan a public forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, in the community room of Police Department headquarters, 1 Monroe St.

"The power plant right now is closed," said state Sen. Bob Duff,

D-Norwalk, who is organizing the session with Mayor Harry Rilling. "I don't think it's been formally closed because there's a process."

But, he added, "I don't think that anyone expects that the power plant will be open again anytime soon."

Duff also said, "Residents are reaching out to me about what may happen with the property."

Officials expected to attend the forum, in addition to Duff and Rilling, include representatives of NRG Energy, which had operated the power plant, Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik, Fire Chief Denis McCarthy, members of the Planning Commission and Zoning Commission, and Alexis Cherichetti, the city's senior environmental officer.

"We're looking for comments from the community to see what they'd like to see," Rilling said. "We could eventually have it turned over to us."

"I think everybody's dream would be to make it park land," Duff said. "Whether that's realistic or not, I'm not sure."

But he cautioned that an environmental cleanup of the site is potentially needed before it could be used for other purposes, and that could be a lengthy process.

"It's not like you can take down a power plant and do what you want with it," Duff said. "I would imagine there is a fair amount of cleanup that would have to happen there."

"I'd certainly like to see the property remediated and explored for different recreational uses," Rilling said. "I think we're just going to have to explore all our options."

Along with discussing the power plant's deactivation, other topics to be discussed at the meeting include security, environmental concerns, zoning issues and the potential for future development.

Duff, who chairs the state Senate's Energy and Technology Committee, said the installation of new power lines a decade ago helped bring more cost-effective power to the area. That, along with the lower price of natural gas, have been factors in the plant's closing. Read Full Article 

"We're still collecting tax revenue, but it means there could be a different chapter of this property," Duff said.

Jarret Liotta

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