Chinmoy Lane rescue underway in New Milford

SPECTRUM/Matt Marshall of AT & T inspects the site of the collapsed roadway on Chinmoy Lane in New Milford Thursday. Work is underway to erect a 90-foot, temporary access bridge to Chinmoy. An access road to the back side of the street's cul de sac, through woods off West Meetinghouse Road, was well underway Friday.
SPECTRUM/Matt Marshall of AT & T inspects the site of the collapsed roadway on Chinmoy Lane in New Milford Thursday. Work is underway to erect a 90-foot, temporary access bridge to Chinmoy. An access road to the back side of the street's cul de sac, through woods off West Meetinghouse Road, was well underway Friday.Michael Duffy

The rains seemingly were subsiding Friday morning throughout the Greater New Milford area.

However, the waters of the Housatonic River and its tributaries were still expected to be at or above flood stage through much of Friday and possibly into Saturday, causing another shutdown of Route 7 through a stretch of New Milford just south of Veterans Memorial Bridge and major problems in the lives of many area residents and businesses.

There was some positive news Friday for beleaguered families living on the cul de sac on Chinmoy Lane in the Merryall district of New Milford. Members of about 20 families have been stranded since Monday when heavy rains washed away a culvert and a 30-foot-wide section of the lone road connecting to neighboring Putnam Road.

Frayed nerves and a sense on the part of some residents that they had been abandoned were apparent late this week.

However, Mayor Pat Murphy urged residents to remain patient and to understand conditions and the rights of neighboring property owners have limited the town's ability to create access to the cul de sac.

"We're doing everything we can safely do," the mayor said Friday morning.

A good Samaritan who had asked to keep his identity anonymous is allowing the town to install a temporary road from his property on West Meetinghouse Road to the stranded cul-de-sac on Chinmoy Lane.

The property is listed on Vision Appraisal as belonging to Michael and Kathleen Gold. Attempts to reach them for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.

In combination with several local contractors contributing their equipment and time, New Milford Public Works crew worked all day and into the night Thursday and were back in the woods between West Meetinghouse and Chinmoy creating an access road over which cars and fuel trucks, if needed, could travel. The goal was for completion of the road by the end of day but that may hinge on today's weather.

As soon as possible, given conditions in the area, work should begin on placing a 90-foot metal, temporary bridge, on loan from the state DOT, over the chasm, Public Works personnel said.

The bridge arrived in sections via tractor trailers from Milford. Installation would take several days, according to engineers' estimates.

The access road and the bridge are among the efforts made by the town to help the Chinmoy residents. Until those are achieved, the mayor reminded Chinmoy residents to share communication coming from the town amongst their neighbors.

Some of the Chinmoy residents have walked through woods to nearby Carl's Lane to get access outside their housing development.

However, property owners on Carl's Lane, to which the cul de sac backs, installed "no trespassing" signs and ordered people off of their properties, according to Chinmoy residents.

The New Milford police log for Tuesday and Wednesday showed calls from Carl's Lane residents complaining of "trespassers" from Chinmoy on their property.

Jacob Hofmann, a theatrical director who lives at 13 Chinmoy Lane, was "putting on my boots and jumping a fence" Thursday to be picked up on West Meetinghouse Road and taken to a production in Norwalk.

"I'm a young man and it's been all right for me," Mr. Hofmann said. "But there's lots of tension on the lane.

"People on Carl's Lane and West Meetinghouse have their property rights and I understand both sides," he said, "but we're trapped here and parents trying to get their kids out to doctor's appointments and to stores to get diapers shouldn't have to have early morning screaming matches with neighbors to do that."

Shala Kerr-Kisling of Carl's Lane said she had put the "no trespassing" signs up on the advice of the New Milford police and her insurance company.

"I understand the situation," Ms. Kerr-Kisling said. "But we have to protect ourselves. We could be sued if someone is injured crossing our property."

"The signs protect us," she added. "We were told not to give permission verbally either. That could open us to liability."

Work began to get residents of Chinmoy out early Thursday morning.

Six workers with an excavator pulled a 75-foot tall by 32-inch buttonball tree from the chasm, along with several smaller trees that had been washed in when the Merryall Brook too its toll.

Hundreds of river rocks and broken pavement sat in piles on the Putnam Road side of Chinmoy by 11 a.m. that day. Some 300 to 400 tons of rip rap was being brought in to stabilize the banks, said B & N Corporation owner Vic Nelson.

From West Meetinghouse Road, some 850 feet from the back of the Chinmoy cul de sac, a crew from Northern Landscaping of Bridgewater starting the access road by taking down trees Thursday morning.

A section of stonewall had to be removed, as well, before temporary roadbed could be laid.