State officials have banned alcohol at Enfield's Scantic River State Park after rowdy crowds and piles of garbage caused major problems last summer.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee announced his decision Thursday. Although the alcohol ban is not permanent, it will last through the summer.
"I have exercised my authority to declare a 90-day ban on alcohol at the Scantic River State Park because large numbers of people consuming large volumes of alcohol there is not a combination conducive to public safety and enjoyment of our state's natural resources," Klee said in a statement.
Enfield residents organized a cleanup last summer after large groups left behind litter. DEEP officials said intoxicated visitors have broken bottles both on the ground and in the water and squabbled with other groups over space along the river bank.
"Given the changing use and issues at the park, the time has come for us to take stronger action at Scantic River State Park," Klee said in a statement. "The vast majority of visitors to our parks enjoy themselves while following the rules and exhibiting good behavior. Unfortunately, situations do arise – like that at Scantic River State Park – where people engage in behavior that affects the experience of others."
He added that Environmental Conservation Police "will vigorously patrol the park to enforce" the alcohol ban.
State Sen. John A. Kissel, who represents the region including Enfield, released the following statement Thursday afternoon in response to the measure:
"I thank our state environmental officials for taking this necessary step just in time for Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial start of summer. Last summer, I urged state officials to step up efforts to protect the pristine setting of the park. Many north-central Connecticut residents have expressed to me their dismay about the way the park has been treated by out-of-state visitors using the space for large barbecues, drinking and unsupervised swimming. Despite the efforts of volunteers who clean up the park, large groups who picnic and party there on weekends leave behind litter and debris. This decision will make the park safer, cleaner, and more family friendly."