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The wall comes tumbling down; barrier to Toronto Reservoir public access cleared

By Fritz Mayer
March 27, 2012

In perhaps one of the final acts of the long-running Toronto Reservoir saga, workers on March 27 began disassembling the wall that had blocked the road to the public access area by the dam at the reservoir.

Joseph Klimaszewski, Jr., vice president of Alliance Energy Group, which owns the reservoir, said the workers would also remove the approximately two feet of dirt and rocks that had been placed on the road by developer Steve Dubrovksy when the wall was built in 2006.

The battle over whether there is an easement to the public access area has been waged for a decade, and now seems to be settled with the decision by a Judge Michael H. Melkonian that Alliance had the authority to take the easement by eminent domain; further, in his decision, the judge said the public always had a right to use the road to get to the reservoir but that the developer had “interfered” with that right.

The “Scope of Easement” that was issued with the judge’s decision spells out what can be done on the easement. It says it shall include, “A non-exclusive perpetual easement and right of way in, upon, over, across, along and through the easement… for purposes of allowing the general public free and uninhibited access for ingress and egress by foot, motor vehicle, truck or other means to the parking area and boat launch located on tax parcel 55.F-I-9.1 in the Town of Bethel.”

It also spells out what cannot be done (See sidebar).

Klimaszewski also said the boat launch was for launching of watercraft such as canoes and kayaks, but was not meant for the launching of large boats with motors, and that trailers could not be backed into the water.

The Scope of Easement also says that whomever holds the license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the operation of the hydropower plant at the Swinging Bridge Reservoir, which is downstream of the Toronto, is responsible for enforcing the provisions of the easement and “shall take commercially reasonable measures to remedy any violation of this provision within a reasonable period of time.”

At the present time, Alliance is the holder of the license, but with the road now cleared and access re-opened, Alliance will once again move to transfer the license to the Eagle Creek Companies, which will then have the responsibility to keep the access open.

The rules of the Toronto Reservoir easement area

No buildings, parking areas, roads, billboards or other outdoor advertising displays, utilities or other temporary or permanent structures shall be constructed or placed or permitted to remain in the easement area.

No storage of any materials, supplies, trash or equipment shall be permitted in the easement area.

No parking or standing of motor vehicles (including trucks)
shall be permitted in the entrances, exits, roadways or driveways in, upon, or along the easement area.

No trash, waste, or unsightly or offensive material shall be permitted to be placed or dumped on the easement area.