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Proposals to transform Waterford’s Seaside Park fall short

WATERFORD— Connecticut environmental officials say they’ve been unable to find a private developer to transform a former 1930s-era tuberculosis sanatorium for children overlooking Long Island Sound into a lodge and spa.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection last year solicited proposals to redevelop four buildings at Seaside State Park in Waterford.

The agency announced Tuesday that neither of the two proposals it received met the criteria.

The aging structures were designed by Cass Gilbert — the same architect who designed the Woolworth Building and U.S. Supreme Court building –and are listed on the National Historic Registers of Historic Places. In return for renovating them, a developer would receive at least a 50-year lease to develop a lodge similar to ones found inside the Grand Canyon and Yosemite national parks.

The property was originally designed in the 1930’s as a treatment facility people with tuberculosis, and then served people with developmental disabilities from 1961 to 1996.

The property remained vacant after that, and a developer from New York came forward with a plan for the property.  After years of delays, Governor Dannel Malloy designated the shoreline property as a state park in September, 2014.

DEEP then engaged in a lengthy process to get input from local residents and others, to determine how best to develop the new state park. But a plan to convert building into a luxury hotel and create a ‘destination park’ did not produce the needed interest. DEEP has estimated the cost of restoring the buildings at $10 million.

Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen says the agency remains committed to securing “the best possible future” for the state park.

DEEP says in the coming weeks, their staff, and officials from the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Administrative Services, will meet with local officials, developers, and others to determine next steps.

In the meantime, the park is open as a place for passive recreation activities including walking, fishing and birdwatching. The buildings on the property remain closed to the public.

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