For Kevin Ziolkovski, the song remains the same.
This week, he sent a formal complaint to Waterford’s human resource director demanding First Selectman Dan Steward, Planning Director Tom Wagner, Fire Director Bruce Miller and Police Chief Murray Pendleton be suspended. This comes after his unsuccessful attempt earlier this month to arrest Robert Schacht, owner of Millers Pond dam.
The reason? The same reason Ziolkovski ran for First Selectman in 2011 and the same reason he is suing the town. Ziolkovski said his property has been flooded five times since 2007, most recently in 2010, and it is the town’s and Schacht’s fault.
“I don’t know what else I have to do,” Ziolkovski said. “Nobody is fixing it, everybody is saying it is not their problem.”
Meanwhile Schacht has said he has “lost all compassion for Mr. Ziolkovski.” Town officials said that Ziolkovski’s home is in a flood plain and homes that are in flood plains flood from time to time.
“I don’t have any control over the weather, I don’t have any control over the elevation of Mr. Ziolkovski’s house and I don’t have any control over what God puts into Hunts Brook,” Schacht said. “At first I had compassion for Mr. Ziolkovski, even after he sued me, because his house was flooded and that is a pain... But now I don’t really have any compassion for him anymore.”
Ziolkovski said his family has lived on Millers Pond Road for more than two centuries and before 1950 the property never flooded. But then, the town installed a bridge on Bloomingdale Road with three culverts upstream from his home, and he alleges the culverts are insufficient and cause his home to be flooded.
Meanwhile, Schacht lives upstream from Ziolkovski on Millers Pond Road and owns the dam at Millers Pond. The original dam was used as a dam for a mill, but was rebuilt in 1999 as Millers Pond could be used as a possible water source, Schacht said.
In 2006, after leaving Millers Pond dry for several years, Schacht refilled it per recommendation of the DEEP. In 2007, Ziolkovski’s property was flooded. In 2008 and 2009, it was flooded but not as bad, and in March of 2010 his property was flooded and his construction equipment he kept in sheds in his yard were destroyed.
Schacht said the dam was never built to alleviate flooding, it was built to withstand heavy rains, which it has done. He said if the dam were to burst, Ziolkovski’s home would be destroyed.
Still, the town wanted to use it as a way to mitigate potentially flooding, so in 2011, before Tropical Storm Irene, they asked Schacht to lower Millers Pond before it hit. Before Superstorm Sandy, Schacht did the same and called police dispatch letting him know that he did. This upset Ziolkovski, who despite suing for an injunction to have the pond drained in 2011, said the move was against the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s regulations.
Call to Police
Earlier this month, Ziolkovski called the Waterford Police Department and asked them to arrest Schacht for reckless endangerment for lowering the pond. Wagner and Schacht agreed that lowering the pond could lower the chance of flooding, but Ziolkovski said it was against DEEP regulations.
The Waterford Police Department investigated and said they found no reason to arrest Schacht. Undeterred, this week Ziolkovski sent a letter to the human resources director and the local media asking for the suspension of Steward, Miller, Pendleton and Wagner for encouraging Schacht to lower the pond.
Schacht, when interviewed Wednesday, said he was getting frustrated with Ziolkovski’s actions. He said he lowered the pond to decrease the chance of flooding and was disappointed that Ziolkovski called the police.
Ziolkovski replied that he didn’t think Schacht checked to see if the culverts were blocked before he lowered the pond, which could have flooded his home. It didn’t, and his home was not flooded during Sandy or Irene.
Steward said Ziolkovski lives in a flood plain and when there are heavy rains, like in March of 2010, it will flood. Wagner said the same, saying that culverts often flood over and that Schacht did the right move by lowering the pond.
According to the police report on Ziolkovski’s complaint, the DEEP said Schacht should have told them he was lowering the pond, even if it was the best course of action. The DEEP said it would work with Schacht to develop a plan on what to do before storms.
Schacht said he lowered the pond on a Saturday, when DEEP offices are closed, and did tell the police. He said he would work with the DEEP to develop a strategy on what to do before storms.