NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. — The top two officials in the town of New Fairfield are blasting a state policy that allows visitors to "walk in" at Squantz Pond State Park even after the parking lot is filled.
In a Facebook post , First Selectman Susan Chapman and Selectman Kim Hanson blasted the policy from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
"By allowing unlimited walk-ins, the state is creating a public safety issue for both the people visiting the park and the residents of New Fairfield," the post said. "The state needs to immediately declare a moratorium on walk-ins at Squantz Pond State Park once the park is closed due to reaching maximum capacity for cars. The State Police cannot stop people from walking into the park until the state (DEEP) prohibits walk-ins. #NewFairfield."
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton retweeted the post in a show of support.On Sunday, July 3, the parking lot at the lakefront state park was filled up by early morning.
"Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield is full to parking capacity and closed to new vehicles as of 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 3rd," the state announced via Twitter @CTStateParks.
A number of comments on the Facebook post by the selectmen complained of pedestrians walking along and crossing Route 39 in an unsafe manner. Other comments said that beachgoers were parking along the road, at businesses, at the Town Beach, on private streets and even knocking on doors asking to park in driveways.
Squantz Park is a popular summer beach and frequently is forced to close on summer weekends when the parking lot fills up. Local residents complain that many of the visitors come from out-of-state and that parking along the narrow two-lane road is a safety hazard.
The leaders in New Fairfield have also expressed dissatisfaction with lifeguard cuts announced earlier this summer by DEEP. After July 4, there will be lifeguard coverage for only three to five days per week at Squantz Pond and other lakes at state parks due to large state budget cuts.
There will be lifeguards on weekends, the busiest days at the parks, DEEP said. These beaches have previously been guarded seven days a week throughout the summer.