Milford abandons ‘paper street’ for sports courts plan

Laurel Beach Association.

Laurel Beach Association.

Brian A. Pounds / Brian A. Pounds

MILFORD — An abandoned city right of way will soon become a place to play.

The Board of Aldermen, at its meeting Monday, approved a request to abandon the so-called paper street from Stanley Street to Court Street, land located next to the Laurel Beach Association’s property and will be used for expansion of the association’s recreational space.

A paper street is a planned road that appears on maps but was never built.

“The city of Milford has a paper street, a public right of way, that hugs the existing tennis court over at Laurel Beach in the association’s property,” said Mayor Ben Blake. “The property is looking to improve their facility, and they made the request, and it is recommended by the Planning and Zoning Board.”

Laurel Beach Association first requested that the paper street be abandoned to the planning and zoning board on March 25, but because it was an 8-24 request, the final vote for the city to abandon the paper street had to be taken by the board of aldermen.

“It’s a good community endeavor because it’s going to expand the recreation space that is already there, and I think it’s going to be welcomed by all,” said Blake.

The plan for Laurel Beach Association is to rebuild tennis, pickleball and basketball courts.

In March of 2021, the association contracted an architect-engineer firm named SLR to survey the property. One of the questions they asked was if they needed to resurface, repair or rebuild the courts, and the firm told them they needed to rebuild.

After the association discussed how big they wanted the courts and what adjustments they needed to do they took the plans to the firm, but the firm told them they couldn’t build there because it is a paper street.

When Sonia Bannon Penagos, a board member of the Laurel Beach Association, asked what the paper road was, the firm told her that initially, there was supposed to be a neighborhood. But the state came and took over the property across the street, and Laurel Beach Association owns the other side of the property. The firm told her nothing would happen unless the city abandons the paper road.

“As part of the refurbishing process, they don’t want to encroach onto the paper street unless they go through the proper mechanisms of ensuring they have permission to do so,” said Blake.

Blake said the area under consideration is part of the recreation space already, and looks like a big field. There’s no asphalt and doesn’t look like a road, he said.

“It’s already, for all intent and purposes, part of the field,” said Blake. “If you look at the deeds and land records, there is technically a paper road that runs through this recreation space, which has been recreation space going back many decades. It’s just legalizing something and bringing it into conformance with what has always been the case.”

Aldermen Scott Marlow asked if the abandonment of the paper street would affect the driveways that are off of Stanley Street.

Blake said it wouldn’t.

“It certainly doesn’t impact of effect in any way the present access to any of the driveways for any of the adjacent homes,” said Blake.