Public meeting scheduled on Silver Sands Park improvements

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has scheduled a public information meeting in Milford to present plans for improvements to Silver Sands State Park.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Milford City Hall.

At the meeting, DEEP will present plans it has developed to improve Silver Sands State Park by adding public bathrooms, changing areas, lifeguard and law enforcement space, and a snack bar with a wraparound deck, according to a press release posted on the state’s website.

“This project will continue the agency’s efforts to transform this popular park, much of which was the former city landfill,” the press release states.

The agenda for the public meeting will consist of a presentation of the project plans, followed by an opportunity for questions and answers in a one-on-one format with staff. The meeting will conclude with time for citizens to provide public comment on the project.

“Our goal is to provide better services to people who visit Silver Sands State Park,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “With thousands of visitors annually, it is important to provide bathroom facilities, a snack bar, and a place for staff support at this popular location on Long Island Sound.

“The public information session we have scheduled in Milford,” Klee said, “is an opportunity for citizens to view the improvement plans, to discuss the project with our staff, and to ask questions about it.”

The project is the next phase of many years of improvements at Silver Sands State Park. The state of Connecticut has invested more than $10 million since 1960 in acquiring property, addressing landfill closure, and adding park amenities, including the Silver Sands Boardwalk, the state’s press statement reads.

The project is also part of DEEP’s “Lead by Example” effort and includes many features intended to enhance the environmental sustainability of the area, state officials said.  The new restrooms will be on an elevated deck above the flood zone and behind sand dunes; wildlife habitat improvements are part of the project; and the parking area will include spaces for electric vehicles and handicapped parking

The Sept. 24 public information meeting is separate and distinct from a scheduled formal public hearing that is part of an administrative hearing process on a tidal wetlands permit required for the project. That public hearing is scheduled for October 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Milford City Hall.  Comment on the permit that is the subject of the October 1 public hearing will not be accepted at the Sept. 24 information meeting.

State Rep. Kim Rose said she was in Hartford recently for a status conference regarding a public hearing on Silver Sands.

“Because of the limited scope of that hearing, we decided that it is in the best interest of the residents of Milford to be afforded the courtesy of an informational hearing,” Rose said. “The DEEP’s multimillion dollar plan of improvements to the park should be presented to Milford residents and include them in the planning process. These planned improvements will directly affect people living closest to the park and those wishing to use that facility as well as Walnut Beach.”

Rose said nearby neighborhoods have seen an increase in parking along residential streets.

“The State of CT DEEP has an obligation to ensure the residents in Milford do not suffer any adverse effects because of the planned improvements,” Rose said. “I encourage all to come out to see what is planned and to ask questions.”