This week the public got their first look at plans to restore Sleeping Giant State Park.
"I've seen the devastation firsthand," said Ronald Raffone from Seymour.
But even seeing Sleeping Giant State Park in person last year, Raffone still found it hard to believe. Trees that stood tall and brought shade to generations of visitors were flattened by the severe storm in 2018. In June of 2019, the park reopened, and on Wednesday night Raffone and dozens of others came out to hear how the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection plans to rebuild it.
"There's the park I remember, and I want to make sure that the park that other people are going to remember in the future is the right image of what Sleeping Giant was and hopefully will be again," said Raffone.
The public saw possible ideas for the 12 acre park entrance restoration. The director of Connecticut State Parks, Tom Tyler, said reforestation is part of the long-term plan, but that it's also important to consider the short term.
"What do we do in the meantime and do we take advantage of having a relatively clean slate there to look at how the facilities are laid out?" said Tyler.
The agency is looking at recreating picnic areas by using canopies for shade until trees can grow back. They're also looking at moving the parking lot so that it's no longer visible from Mt. Carmel Ave.
"What they do with putting the park back together is really important to us," said Debbie Smith of Hamden.
While Smith said she likes the parking lot relocation idea, she has concerns about the open space planned and she wants planners to rethink it.
Those who attended said they're glad to have a chance to give their thoughts and help create a final plan they can all get behind.
"Hopefully we'll find something that is friendly to the environment, is fun for everybody to use," said Raffone.
At this point we're told funding has not been secured, but DEEP wants to have a plan in place for when it does. Officials said they'll take all the comments and go towards a final draft that they'll present back to the public in the coming months.
If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can email your comments to DEEP.Stateparks@ct.gov until December 20. You can also go to the DEEP Sleeping Giant website to look at the presentation starting on December 12.