HARTFORD — As Metropolitan District Commission lawyers pursue an appeal of a multi-million dollar court award Rep. John Rigby and Sen. Kevin Witkos say they’ll push legislation aimed at making the nonprofit water company immune from legal suits filed by people injured at its recreational properties.
The announcement from Colebrook resident Rigby and Witkos comes as the news media reports MDC officials say they’re considering prohibiting access to popular recreation hot spots, such as Lake McDonough in Barkhamsted—a community the two legislators represent in Hartford.
Talk about padlocking MDC trails, etc., was triggered by a jury verdict awarding a Rocky Hill resident nearly $3 million after she crashed her bicycle on a trail at an MDC reservoir in West Hartford.
MDC officials say such costs come out of the pockets of ratepayers.
“An afternoon swim in Lake McDonough is quintessential Barkhamsted,” said Rigby, adding that it’s also a popular recreation destination from folks outside the area. “I grew up swimming there. My children go there today, and their friends go there too. I look forward to working with MDC staff to craft legislation they need to protect them from similar lawsuits and keep these areas open to the public.”
Witkos, who represents the 8th Senatorial District, expressed a similar opinion.
“In this economy many people are foregoing their vacations and staying closer to home, we really need to do everything we can to ensure that the MDC locations remain open,” he said. “While I am certainly cognizant of the issue at hand, I don’t believe it should prevent people from enjoying these outdoor recreation areas.”
MDC will hold a July 20 hearing in Hartford on the issue of closing its recreation areas.