State lawmakers are one step closer to temporarily halting proposed construction at Silver Sands State Park.
The Silver Sands beach in Milford is natural, peaceful and free to the public.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection wants to start charging the same seasonal parking fees as other state parks, along with building new bathrooms, space for lifeguards and environmental conversation police, a concession stand and storage facility.
DEEP said the upgrades are needed because of the park's growing popularity and estimated 250,000 visitors annually.
“I’ve been to other state parks in Connecticut and it’s really nice to have the bath houses and the facilities and everything,” said Linda Rizzo, who moved back to Milford in September. “Why not develop this for the rest of the public and charge to get in like they do at the other parks””
Some Silver Sands neighbors have raised several concerns to Mayor Ben Blake.
“It’s going to increase traffic in the surrounding abutting neighborhoods,” Blake said. “It’s going to increase parking issues and congestion and public safety issues.”
The $10 million project could be put on hold after the state senate passed a bill to not start any construction for two years without city leader approval.
“People are also concerned about the cost,” State Senator Gayle Slossberg said.
Slossberg said she cannot support the renovations while the state has a huge budget deficit and Gov. Dannel Malloy has proposed cutting millions of dollars in education funding for Milford.
“As my mother always said to me, don’t build something or buy something new if you can’t take care of what you already have,” Slossberg said. “We’re struggling with that in our state already so why would we go down this path.”
Before any work is done, Blake said he first wants there to be a new environmental impact study. He said DEEP is working off a study that is two decades old and does not take into account the impact of Sandy and Irene on the coast.
The bill to halt construction for two years now heads to the State House of Representatives.