State and Milford residents butting heads over Silver Sands

MILFORD -- While it was sunny and hot at Milford's Silver Sands State Park on Monday, storm clouds have been hanging over the 300-acre property for a while.

The state's proposes $10 million in upgrades to the beach area has left residents irate.

The state said that, with 250,000 visitors to Silver Sands every year, they need to finally add bathrooms and a concession stand like the other state beaches have. And that's one of the hot button issues.

Milford residents and legislators are concerned building concessions and restrooms at Silver Sands would take away the natural environment.

"We've got muskrat back, foxes back, fish in the tidal pool," said Milford resident Pam Nelson, who lives right next to the beach.

The locals say the state is relying on a 22-year-old environmental impact evaluation in making their decision.

"A small facility with a bathroom, changing room, a small snack bar, definitely to scale, appropriate for that setting," said Dennis Schain, a spokesman for the Dept. Of Energy and Environmental Protection.

"I think it's very irresponsible to even consider spending more than $10 million to develop an area and we really don't need to spend that kind of money right now," said State Rep. Kim Rose (D-Milford).

"My house backs onto state park property," said Nelson. "You know, am I going to have hot dog rolls and papers and dirty diapers blowing through my yard?"

To pay for these upgrades, the state said they need to begin charging for parking.

"People, who are not accustomed to paying the fee here, which thousands of people come here every day during the summer, not expecting to pay that they're not gonna want to," said Traci Weber of Milford.

The thought is beach goers will flood the already clogged streets of three neighborhoods that touch the park property, and that could kill one nearby business.

"I end up having to only get customers to walk here off the beach and people who drive here won't be able to come because there's no parking," said Leo Koutikas owner of The Greek Spot Cafe, on East Broadway.

"We say to Milford deal with your parking issues," said Schain. "Put up no parking signs, ticket cars."

Rose said DEEP assured her that they would continue discussions with residents to address their concerns. The commissioner of DEEP says parking fees collected could add about $150,000 annually to the states general fund and it costs roughly $160,000 a year to maintain the park as is.