No fees leads to trash issue at Gardner Lake State Park - WFSB 3 Connecticut

No fees leads to trash issue at Gardner Lake State Park

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(Contributed photo) (Contributed photo)

A popular free state park on Gardner Lake is not only drawing huge crowds, but broken rules.

Homeowners said that ever since the state upgraded a boat launch in Salem five years ago, the beach became very popular.

As a result, they said it gets trashed every weekend. Portable toilets have been toppled and even launched into the lake.

"It's messy,” said David Church, a neighbor. “Go over there Sunday nights, it’s a mess. [There’s] garbage piled up [and] trash on the beach. It's not nice, that's for sure."

The Gardner Lake Authority and others are urging the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to do a better job of patrolling the park and keeping it clean.

"I don't want to pay a fee,” said Kevin Kennedy of Taftville. “Everywhere you go in the State you got to pay a fee. It’s nice to go somewhere a couple of hours take the kids swimming for free, you know."

The authority said it is preparing a letter to send out to local state representatives. In the meantime, DEEP said it is responding.

“We have put an increased focus on the management of Gardner Lake State Park in order to address the kinds of issues they are raising,” said Dennis Schain, DEEP spokesman. “Our efforts include a stronger presence by our staff and law enforcement officials to make certain visitors obey park rules - including picking up and carrying out their own trash."

On Wednesday, Eyewitness News cameras recorded two DEEP officers at the boat launch who were prepping to patrol the sprawling lake.

"It’s not dirty. It’s just people with remnants, coffee cups straws, bottles,” said Melanie Goggin of Colchester.  “Most do [take their trash with them] but you always have a few."

The Gardner Lake Authority said it wants DEEP to take a more active role in keeping the park safe and secure.

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