Milford sets restrictions on parking after beach brawl

Temporary fencing along Broadway at Walnut Beach on June 14, 2022. A more permanent structure will be established in the coming weeks, said Milford Mayor Ben Blake.

Temporary fencing along Broadway at Walnut Beach on June 14, 2022. A more permanent structure will be established in the coming weeks, said Milford Mayor Ben Blake.

Saul Flores / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — In the wake of recent violent incidents at Walnut Beach, police will be ramping up parking rules for that area.

The Milford Police Commission, at its meeting this week, approved a set of parking restrictions which department officials say are needed due to recent fights at the beach which led to numerous arrests.

“These incidents are the result of bad behavior on part of people who came to our beach and did not listen to officers’ requests,” said Police Chief Keith Mello. “Several arrests arising from those incidents have been made, and two of the body cameras that were taken have been recovered.”

Mello said the post-pandemic behavior was also seen last summer, and this year police are taking action to help prevent further incidents.

“Walnut Beach has easy access from three different areas, and it is necessary to go back to having people enter through the same entrance,” Mello said. “Beachgoers carry in coolers or bags, and our officers do not know what they are carrying in. We also see many people come to that beach, and it is a difficult beach to close, and the permanent fence will assist in closing off the beach.”

He also noted the officers have to address marijuana use on the beach, in addition to alcohol violations, which are a city violation.

Police Officer Daniel Hemperly recommended a series of restrictions, which the commission approved.

“These recommendations are similar to what was in place during COVID,” he said. “The streets which branch out from Walnut Beach will be resident-only parking and will require resident parking stickers effective 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the beach season.”

Hemperly said the restrictions are in place through Sept. 30.

The Walnut Beach parking lot will be for residents only. It will require a sticker and will have a towing-enforced violation associated with it. East Broadway to Naugatuck Avenue south to Monroe will provide for nonresident parking to allow for local business parking.

“The Park and Recreation Department is making ‘beach closed’ signs to be posted in the area should capacity issues arise said,” Hemperly. “Hopefully, it will keep pedestrians and cyclists safe and provide information.”

Mello said the towing area will only be at the metered stops.

Police Commission Chair Richard Smith said he felt residents will embrace the changes and hoped the information will be communicated to the neighbors.

“I like the provision for residents to obtain a permit in the event they have out-of-town guests,” said Commissioner John Mager.

He added if there would be any consideration of reaching out to companies on the tow list to see if they would be agreeable to take a stand-by towing job.

“There has been communication from a towing company who would agree and others who expressed concern about it,” said Mello. “It would be necessary to change the regulations for that to happen. And, I would assume there would be opposition based on the call I recently received.”

Mello said this is the second year the city has had a chaotic start to the beach season.

“People know we have to take extreme measures to create control,” he said. “It may not be possible to tow every car in parking violation if we do not have the manpower to do that.”