Arena, state park among projects receiving state funding - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Arena, state park among projects receiving state funding

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Improvements to a Milford state park is receiving state funding.  (WFSB file photo) Improvements to a Milford state park is receiving state funding. (WFSB file photo)

Funding for major improvements to Hartford's XL Center and contentious improvements to a Milford state park are among a host of projects receiving long-awaited state capital funds.

Wednesday marks the first time the State Bond Commission has met in about five months due to the delayed state budget.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican state Rep. Chris Davis, of Ellington, clashed over the $40 million for the Hartford multi-purpose arena, with Davis questioning the expense given the state's continuing fiscal problems.

'What I am advocating is now is not the time to be bonding and adding to the state's credit card for projects that are simply wants not needs," Davis said.

The governor had originally wanted $250 million for repairs. 

"The budget that was passed on a bi-partisan basis drafted by your colleagues is now in deficit," Malloy said. "[It] seems like a shock to you."

Malloy pointed out how the $40 million is a capital investment, and that a modernized XL Center is crucial to making Connecticut's capitol region more attractive.

Malloy is also defending $9.1 million for improvements to Silver Sands State Park, despite some local opposition, noting it's a state asset. The nearly $10 million on bathrooms will that replace port-a-potties as well as a concession stand a maintenance facility and a parking garage.

"When our mayor met with DEEP (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) and asked what does it take to get lifeguards on this beach, they don't have the money," state Rep. Pam Staneski (R-Milford) said. 

State Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford) called the State Bond Commission’s decision "was deeply disappointing, but not at all surprising."

"This project has been widely opposed from the beginning, and that opposition has consistently been ignored. The simple fact is that no one wants this project and the State of Connecticut cannot afford it," Slossberg said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Supporters said the improvements include a facility for lifeguards.

"We are hopeful with the passports to parks which was approved as part of the budget will actually provide for lifeguards," Eric Hammerling with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association said.

The passport to parks is a $10 dollar fee that a Connecticut resident pay when they register their car every two years. It includes free parking and generates revenue to keep parks running.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.