Madison residents raise a stink over smell of sand at Hammonasset State Park


State workers are spending long hours every day intentionally making the pristine beaches in Hammonassett darker and smellier.

Hammonasset State Park is known for its beautiful beige beaches. But these days that is changing one black grain of sand at a time.

“The sand looks pretty dirty,” Madison resident Frank Jones said. “I notice when I'm down on the beach that there's a smell of oil in the air.”

Jones said he noticed the change a few weeks ago, when the state began bringing about 300,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Housatonic River to Hammonasset's west and middle beaches. Neighbors said they have complained about the new sand.

“This is very dark sand it's fenced off so we can't get up to it but it's very dark,” Naomi Denslow, of Madison, said. “If it's sand, it may be just sort of sludge.”

Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection officials said they understand the frustration but say the new sand here is necessary because of erosion.

“Hopefully it's being checked by the state to ensure that there are no adverse effects to life limb animal or people in the area,” Jones said.

A DEEP spokesman said all of the new sand has been tested and it's perfectly safe. State officials claim the sun will bleach the sand over time and the smell which neighbors describe as oily will dissipate. Folks, who live in the area, said they are counting down the days.

“If I were swimming in Hammonasset, I would not want to swim in an area that has black tar looking sand,” Denslow said.

DEEP officials said this kind of erosion project is necessary at Hammonasset every few years. This one will last until March.

Jones said he appreciates the state responding to our questions on Wednesday but he'll be monitoring the situation until the beaches are back to normal.

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