“This trail leads right around and goes down to the beach.”
Charlie Young pointed to a little pathway off a road in Madison that’s technically state property. He says it’s a 15 minute walk to the beach, which is causing major problems on the roads.
“People were just walking with their coolers and their umbrellas and their kids down the street to walk to the park,” said David Donahue, owner of Donahue’s Clam Castle.
People are finding other ways into Hammonasset State Park after it reaches the reduced parking limit under COVID-19 guidelines.
“A lot of out of state plates, a lot of Connecticut plates but I’ve never seen the side streets down here so full of parked cars, and people walking into Hammonasset,” said Young.
“I get that question all the time from people coming in ‘can we park here and go to the beach?’ and I have to unfortunately say to them no,” said Donahue.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes reiterated the message today, telling people not to walk in to state parks.
“We are doing this to keep you safe. Please do not park on a side street and try to walk in,” said Dykes.
Madison resident Vincent Siniscalchi agrees.
“I wouldn’t let the people walk, they’re walking down Route 1 which is dangerous,” said Siniscalchi
Madison police say there’s little they can do on the roads and paths that are state property. They’re aware of the parking headaches, so they’ve added new “no parking” signs on town streets.
“If you’re parked in front of a fire hydrant or you're blocking a driveway or blocking a driveway, you will be towed. I mean that’s the law,” said Capt. Joseph Race of the Madison Police Department.
He says people who have driven hours from out of state aren’t likely to go home if they find Hammonasset closed when they get to Madison. So they’re willing to work with people if they follow the rules.
The town of Madison has three beaches that are open to the public, only the parking is restricted to residents.
“The train station does have plenty of parking up that way, there is on-street parking in the center of town,” said Race.
They’re also reducing capacity at the town beaches where Madison recreation staff will monitor the number of people in the sand.
“At a certain point, we may have to close the gates to walk-ins as well.”
He adds they’ll have extra patrols out this weekend monitoring parking and handing out tickets, so plan ahead and pack patience.