Senate bill would stop buildout of Silver Sands

Senator Gayle Slossberg today announced the bipartisan committee passage of Senate Bill 605, which would halt the buildout of Silver Sands Beach State Park in Milford. Hundreds of Milford residents have expressed their opposition to this project. Senate Bill 605 will prevent the buildout from moving forward until it receives municipal approval. The bill passed in the Environment committee by a vote of 16-13. It now moves to the calendar of the Senate for further consideration.

“This bill ensures that this controversial, expensive buildout cannot be forced on the people of Milford,” Slossberg said in a press release. “Hundreds of people have spoken their opposition to this major construction project being proposed for their community, but their concerns have been ignored. The passage of this bill will put Milford residents on equal footing with the state officials pushing the buildout of Silver Sands, which will help us reach a fair conclusion that can be supported by the people who would be living with the effects of this project.”

The Silver Sands proposal, which is currently estimated to cost $10 million, has been in the works for some time now. Public hearings held in Milford attracted hundreds of town residents. Opponents to the project are concerned that the project is based on an outdated Environmental Impact Evaluation and is underestimating the damage that this construction project will have to local plants and wildlife. They are also concerned that the plan to begin collecting tolls for people to park at the beach will make it too expensive for community residents to visit the beach they have been going to for years.

The proposed buildout of Silver Sands would include construction of a maintenance garage, concession stand, viewing stand, entrance booth and other facilities.

“Senate Bill 605 ensures the state could not pursue this controversial construction project at Silver Sands without approval from the town of Milford,” states Slossberg’s press release. “This bill would establish a moratorium on construction of the project until such time as the Milford Board of Aldermen votes to approve it.”

The other side

DEEP officials have said they believe the amenities will bring people in and justify the parking fee that will be charged. The bathhouse would be close to the beach and will consist of three buildings: a concession stand, rest rooms and a first aid office. The bathhouse would be elevated and connected to the walkway that comes from the parking lot, creating a sort of shortcut to the bathhouse.

A maintenance building, including a garage, would be built farther back on the property and would make managing the park more efficient, DEEP officials said. Today, park workers have to bring their equipment in on trucks from other state parks.

The DEEP officials have argued that the state has been working on the Silver Sands project for many years, already invested millions of dollars into it, and have to add improvements to make it safe and accommodating for the 250,000 people who go there every year.

“We do think the resources are sorely needed; we need to bring basic services to Silver Sands,” one official said during a Milford meeting in 2015. “Relying on porta potties is inadequate.”