Amanda Raus, Chris Podosek
The pier at Fort Hale Park in New Haven was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy.
The pier at Fort Hale Park in New Haven is empty. There aren't any fishermen there, because there are no boards to stand on. It's been like that since Tropical Storm Irene and was made only worse by Sandy.
“Lot of people fish off that pier and feel lonesome without it. Now you don't see anyone at the pier. At one time it used to be crowded,” said Al Casagrande, of East Haven.
Now those who have used it over the years are waiting for it to be fixed and wondering why it hasn't been repaired already.
“They've got the nerve to charge 10 bucks for fishing. They charge us $10 for a saltwater license now, so I thought they'd have some money for the fishermen,” said Bob Gamache, of North Haven.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which owns the pier, says a change in federal regulations has stalled repairs. Instead of just putting it back together, the state needs to meet FEMA guidelines and the pier needs to be redesigned. The Department is working on plans right now.
“I'm hoping that the pier will be more fisher friendly, more like a 'T' where you have more space to fish. This pier is tight. That's what I'm going to suggest to the state,” said Salvatore DeCola, the alderman who represents the area where Fort Hale Park is located.
As for the rest of Fort Hale Park, the City of New Haven is responsible for repairs. Crews will be out next week pushing the sand back from the parking lot and cleaning up.
City officials are also looking for long-term solutions and they want to hear from community members about what changes should be made to the park. Those plans will take more time.
“Having been hit twice, we don't want to continue just fixing what's not going to work, because the storms will take it away again next year,” said Christy Hass, Deputy Director of Parks and Squares.