A controversial plan to build out a popular state park could get the green light on Wednesday, but there are plenty who want Silver Sands in Milford to stay just the way it is.
The project will include restrooms, a concession stand, office space for staff and even a maintenance garage.
State officials said a quarter million people visit Silver Sands each year, and these upgrades will bring the beach in line with the other state beaches on the shoreline.
However, those who live in Milford said no one wants it, and claim the state can't afford it.
From the boardwalk to the beach, Milford residents Jack and Gayle Haas said even on a late November day, Silver Sands is tough to beat.
"You come here and this whole vista, is just in its close to natural state and I'd hate to see that lost,” Jack Haas said. "It’s something unique about Silver Sands that set it apart to other state beaches."
But, the state wants to build out the park and is looking to bond a little more than $9 million to build a concession stand, restrooms, office space for staff and a maintenance garage.
"We just finished 10 months of very ugly and difficult budget battle. We are still struggling with our finances and the question is why would we be spending $9 million to build out here when no one is asking for this,” Sen. Gayle Slossberg(D-Milford) said. “But, more importantly when there are so many other needs that our state has where that money could be well spent."
Milford's State Delegation and its mayor said the cost is too high and claim the concession stand will impact local businesses.
"The priorities up in Hartford are not the same priorities we have here locally,” Milford Mayor Ben Blake said.
A spokesperson for Gov. Dannel Malloy's Office released a statement on Tuesday.
"This project ensures important improvements are made to Silver Sands that will improve access to the park and build out basic amenities for visitors. It's important to remember that this is a state park that serves tens of thousands of visitors from across Connecticut and beyond, and therefore it must be operated, maintained, and improved with all state residents in mind," governor’s spokesperson Kelly Donelly said in a statement on Tuesday.
"In all of the years of living here, visiting here we never heard anybody ask or even suggest, the need of anything, with the possibly exception of toilet facilities,” Jack Haas said.
The governor's office said those restrooms are long overdue - replacing the port-a-potties now in the park.
"If DEEP wants to build bathrooms, that's a conversation that we can have,” Slossberg said. “But this project as it is proposed and steamrolled through is really ill advised."
If the bonding commission signs off on the plan Wednesday morning, the construction project is expected to take a year to complete.
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