Your state government remains actively engaged in important policy decisions--and notable local matters--well after formal adjournment of the legislature in June. I’ll summarize some recent highlights. Please accept my best wishes for a safe, restful and enjoyable summer. As always, please feel free to call my office or write to me with any questions or comments about our work in the General Assembly.
Milford Beach Safety Summit Re:
More-Popular Silver Sands State Park
On July 18th I convened a beach safety summit in Milford to address the increased popularity of Silver Sands State Park this year and an increased public safety risk as a result. State officials met with local first responders and other officials to address issues raised after a park visitor from Hamden was swept from the sandbar and drowned on Independence Day.
Our intention is to ensure every precaution has been taken to prevent similar tragedies. The presence of the new boardwalk at Silver Sands State Park this summer has attracted more people to the Milford shoreline, and that means more people on our beaches unfamiliar with local conditions who could wind up in danger as a result.
I wanted first-hand knowledge that state and local public safety and emergency response officials are doing all they can to prevent accidents and that they are prepared and equipped to respond to any eventuality. One short-term suggestion to come from the meeting is an improved notification protocol using marine radio channel 16; a longer term possibility is the addition of emergency call boxes.
Plan for Metro-North Train Station
in Orange Advances
Earlier this month Governor Malloy signed into law our innovative initiative to create a unique public/private partnership and funding strategy for construction of a Metro-North rail station in Orange. The plan will simultaneously yield a new facility to improve commuter options in Orange while reducing the financial burden on local taxpayers.
Provisions of the Special Act call for the state to enter into an agreement with Dichello Distributors, Inc., a property developer and the owner of the 50-acre proposed train station site, for construction and operation of the station in the event federal or state funding is not available next year. Dichello has generated a preliminary plan to finance, design and construct the project in partnership with the town and state.
Local access to Metro-North commuter service and a train station in Orange are vital ingredients for the town’s successful economic development formula; I believe our vision for a public/private partnership in this project will serve local residents--and local businesses--extremely well.
State Funding for Important
West Haven Beach Upgrades
The State Bond Commission recently gave final approval for funding—originally authorized by the General Assembly in 2007—to underwrite comprehensive beach improvements in West Haven. A total of $1.25 million will be allocated for the project, to be administered by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
West Haven residents are acutely aware of how important their city’s shoreline is both as a recreational outlet and as a cornerstone of the city’s economy and identity. Repair and maintenance of the city’s beaches are vital for its future on all fronts. The state’s investment will replenish sand along the beach, fix erosion damage and finance replacement of a pier. Some funding will be used to refurbish a beach groin, instrumental in trapping and retaining sand to prevent future erosion and beach degradation.
This time of year the importance of local beaches to members of our community is self-evident, and likewise the allocation of state funding to improve and maintain this shared asset. There is also an important economic development function of this investment, because local businesses depend upon the vitality of the beach in order to contribute their part to the local economy.