Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

June 2, 2023


Friday, June 2, 2023


NEW FAIRFIELD – Heeding the concerns of local leaders and public safety officials, state Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) today voted with the state Senate to give final approval to a bill that will create a new definition of park capacity at Squantz Pond State Park in order to ensure public safety and improve visitors’ state park experience.

House Bill 5009, “AN ACT CONCERNING THE PUBLIC SAFETY CAPACITY OF SQUANTZ POND STATE PARK,” passed the Senate on a unanimous and bipartisan 36-0 vote. The bill now heads to Governor Ned Lamont for his signature of the bill into law.

“There have long been reports of people walking along the roadway, carrying coolers and grills and beach chairs, with children. It’s so dangerous. And I’m so worried. And it’s been going on for years,” Sen. Kushner told the Senate chamber today moments before voting for the bill. “But working with First Selectman Pat Del Monaco and Selectman Khris Hall, the New Fairfield legislative delegation has been able to arrive at a solution that will help avoid a pedestrian disaster while at the same time improving everyone’s visit to Squantz Pond. Nobody wants to be packed in like sardines on the beach. Soon we’ll have new capacity rules, so whether you’re driving from Danbury or New York, you’ll know: get to Squantz Pond State Park early, or plan to make other plans.”

“I would like to thank Senator Kushner for her leadership in the Connecticut Senate to pass this important piece of public safety legislation for New Fairfield,” First Selectman Del Monaco

said. “Overflow crowds at Squantz Pond and on our roads has been an issue for many years. We are thankful to our delegation for their support.”

“Without Senator Kushner’s leadership in the Senate, this bill would not have passed this year,” Selectman Hall said. “We have been working on this for a number of years, and I am grateful for her support of a priority piece of public safety legislation for New Fairfield.”

HB 5009 requires the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to develop and publicly post the capacity limit of Squantz Pond State Park by January 31, 2024. Under the bill, DEEP must use the following factors when determining the capacity limit:

· the number of visitors and swimmers that can be safely supervised given the park and lifeguard staffing levels,

· the park’s parking and public restroom capacity

· pedestrian and vehicular traffic on any highway without a sidewalk leading to the park that may threaten pedestrians’ public safety or impede emergency vehicles using the highway, and

· the DEEP commissioner’s authority to use the number of vehicles entering the park as a proxy for the number of park visitors.

The bill also requires DEEP to coordinate with municipal and state law enforcement to implement traffic control efforts to minimize public safety concerns on local and state roads and allows DEEP to close the park to new entrants when the capacity limit is reached.