November 25, 2009

A little brook without a name

On one level, there isn’t much to say about the 2,000-foot-long, unnamed brook that begins somewhere in the storm drains above El Toro Drive and flows into the mushy ground at the base of Nelson’s Field.

It’s just one of scores of tiny rivulets that meander through the hills of Bristol before pouring into slightly larger streams that somebody bothered to name.

But the brook carries more than just water.

Sometimes, it carries little things that Robert LaBelle’s boys throw in it. Other times, it carries a soothing summertime sound that pours in the windows of Bob McMahon’s house.

It also carries a hefty price tag for taxpayers, who are shelling out $1.2 million so it can flow through a new culvert under Burlington Avenue.

City records don’t shed much light on the creek. It shows up on maps as a thin blue line that begins somewhere northwest of Pine Meadow Drive.

But the water uphill from there is all vented into storm drains, eventually dumping out from a large concrete pipe just west of Pine Meadow.

It dumps into a little pond, barely the width of a minivan, that’s got a tangle of vines spilling down to the foamy surface.

Then the water starts to flow downhill, a steady trickle that neighbors say runs continuously day in and day out, all year long.

“I love it. It’s a nice brook,” said LaBelle, who lives at 81 Peacedale St., where the stream reaches the surface.

Both LaBelle and McMahon said they call it “the brook” and don’t know of any other name. City records don’t show a name for it.

LaBelle said he’s always wondered where the brook begins and where it ends up.

Most of the time, he said, he loves it.

His two boys enjoy tossing rocks in it, LaBelle said, and plunking around on the banks as boys have always done.

However, there are times that tree limbs and other debris get caught up by the culvert that carries the creek beneath his driveway. It takes some work to haul them out, LaBelle said.

The creek has some history, too.

LaBelle said he was reading his deed recently and discovered some old language from a 1907 transaction that afforded him special rights as the owner of the brook.

“I have permission to do my laundry in the brook,” LaBelle said.

So far, though, he hasn’t jumped at the opportunity.

But, he said, there must have been a time that people did.

Now he wonders if the provision might give him the right to hook up some kind of waterwheel that would generate electricity that could help hold down his household utility bills.

McMahon said his dog enjoys frolicking in the water, but it was pretty clear from his tone that the dog’s owner wasn’t quite as thrilled.

He said that he and his wife love to leave their windows open for as much of the year as possible so they can listen to “the soothing sound” of the stream as it bubbles through the rocks.

“We really enjoy the sound of it,” McMahon said.

The brook splashes through trees and rocks as it meanders down to Cindy Lane, providing a winding wood that borders the banks on both sides.

A canopy of trees holds sway overhead, a mix of pines, oaks and more that isn’t exactly magnificent but at least offers a little touch of wilderness as it slices through the suburban homes erected alongside it during the past several decades.

At Burlington Avenue, where the state has restricted traffic to a single lane between Cindy Lane and Glendale Drive, crews are busy replacing a crumbling old culvert with a new one that should allow the stream access for a long while to come.

The new culvert should be in by the middle of next week, state officials said, but the project won’t be finished until April.

Derrita Construction Co. of Middletown is doing the work on the $1.2 million project for the state Department of Transportation.

Once the brook crosses under Burlington Avenue, it vanishes into swampy ground where it basically flows into Polkville Brook, a little more substantial waterway.

Polkville Brook flows into Copper Mine Brook, which empties into the Pequabuck River just southeast of Frederick Street..


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

this will be without a name forever. Waiting for BRISTOL POLITIANS HELL WILL FREZE FIRST.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

5:00 PM/7:11 AM - We've got a name for you...ADULT ED...try it!

Anonymous said...

6:01 Pm
Thanks, for the laugh

sticky, sticky said...

Definately high on the list of Bristol must-dos, along with separating the marshmallow fluff from the peanut butter on your dentures, toothless.

Anonymous said...

Dont worry Ken is taking a hard look at it.He made friends with the union boys so they will be guiding him.

Jean Letourneau said...

$1.2 million! Is the DOT crazy to spend this much on digging a trench and dropping in some precast culverts? They made it look like a big project by installing lights to divert traffic. They should fire the whole bunch of socalled experts who piss our money away. Maybe if they are doing several of these for the money, but I am sure we will only get one.