In 2014, Seaside State Park in Waterford became the first shoreline State Park in Connecticut designated in over 50 years. This was a once-in-a-lifetime BIG DEAL because only ~2% of our state’s rare and valuable shoreline is available to provide access for the general public.
You know the iconic State Parks that make up most of that 2% -- Hammonasset, Rocky Neck, Sherwood Island, Silver Sands, and Seaside.
Could the future of Seaside State Park really be at risk?
If Senate Bill 167 passes, the unfortunate answer is “yes.”
S.B. 167: An Act Concerning the Disposition of the Former Seaside Sanitorium would require CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) to solicit private proposals to develop Seaside State Park for “residential use.” That’s right. Your State Park could become the site of high-end, exclusive condos or private residences that provide no benefit to the public purpose of this (or any) State Park. We strongly oppose SB 167.
Why should you be concerned about the future of Seaside State Park?
The purpose of State Parks like Seaside is to benefit the Public
- State Parks are supposed to be maintained and improved for public recreation, the preservation of natural beauty, and/or historic values. SB 167 puts these public values in jeopardy with a proposal that only benefits parochial interests. What if this kind of proposal was made at another State Park that you love?
Why put a residential development in the way of sea level rise and storms?!
- The shoreline location of this 32-acre property, most existing buildings, and its wastewater infrastructure are vulnerable to hurricanes and other coastal storms supercharged by a changing climate. An expected sea level rise of ~20 inches by 2050 would put any residential shoreline developments at an increased risk for storm damage and inundation, and require the costly ongoing maintenance or replacement of a seawall which itself runs contrary to DEEP’s coastal resiliency efforts to avoid hardening of the shoreline. These significant costs would likely be borne by Connecticut taxpayers directly or indirectly.
S.B. 167 would deepen current inequities
- The “highest and best low impact residential use of the property” mandated in SB 167 is likely high-end residential units that would be unaffordable to most. Not only would this be inequitable, but also it would further limit the true public access to Long Island Sound that is available at the site in its current condition.
DEEP has several options for Seaside State Park's future that haven’t yet been explored
- Since 2016, DEEP has conducted an extensive public input process, Environmental Impact Evaluation, and developed a Master Plan for the Park. Although DEEP’s RFP to develop the site as a “Destination Park” was unsuccessful, three other approved options have not yet been tried. In addition, the Friends of Seaside State Park is working with DEEP on a blueprint to preserve some of Seaside’s architectural history and its natural resources for the public to enjoy. S.B. 167 ignores and would override these important ongoing efforts.
**To join our efforts to oppose S.B. 167 and protect the integrity of Seaside State Park, please contact Eric Hammerling, Executive Director of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association via firstname.lastname@example.org or Eileen Grant, Board Co-President with the Friends of Connecticut State Parks via email@example.com.