DEEP Announces Funding and Path Forward to Improve Seaside State Park
$7.1 Million in Federal ARPA Funds Will Be Utilized to Implement “Passive Park” Design and Bring Seaside up to the Standard of Our State Parks
(HARTFORD, CT) – The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced today funding for improvements at Seaside State Park in Waterford.
$7.1 million in Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds have been identified and committed to implement a “passive park“ design for Seaside. The funds invested in Seaside are part of the $21.5 million in ARPA funds that Gov. Lamont and the legislature authorized for needed infrastructure improvements across the State Park system, part of an overall $51.5 million Restore CT State Parks investment the Lamont Administration is making in State Parks infrastructure that also includes $30 million of bond fund authorization.
Elements of this passive park plan, which was incorporated as an option in the Comprehensive Planning Process DEEP engaged in with local leaders, community members, and stakeholders, will include the removal of the deteriorated buildings, the implementation of restrooms and walking trails, shoreline improvements, picnic areas, parking improvements, historic interpretation of the site, and other elements.
“We are excited to move forward with improving this newest state park for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “This is Connecticut’s first new shoreline state park in over 50 years, and we are thrilled to be able to engage in the work, laid out in the Comprehensive Plan, of a passive state park design at this beautiful location. We know there is a significant history at the site that needs to be acknowledged and captured and we look forward to including local officials, the Friends of Seaside State Park, historic preservation advocates, and other interested stakeholders, to identify the best way to honor the memory of these historic buildings in the design of the park. I am grateful to Governor Lamont and the legislature for designating ARPA funds for the restoration of our State Parks, and to our Congressional delegation who helped deliver this funding. I look forward to Seaside having a new chapter.”
“The Town of Waterford appreciates the significant first step by the state to transform Seaside into a resource which will allow the citizens of Connecticut to once again safely enjoy this great coastal asset,” said Waterford First Selectman Rob Brule.
“After many years of advocacy regarding Seaside, I am gratified that Seaside State Park will receive funding from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in order to move forward on plans to create a passive state park,” said State Rep. Kathleen McCarty, R-Waterford. “Seaside State Park is an absolute treasure for our state and our community and it must be maintained and preserved for future generations to enjoy. I am appreciative to DEEP for its collaboration working closely with me, town officials, the Waterford community, and Seaside stakeholders over many years to reach this point.”
“I’m grateful to Governor Lamont and DEEP for their investment in improving our local community,” State Sen. Martha Marx, D-Waterford, said. “Rebuilding this park, which has sat dormant for too long, will provide important and beneficial recreational resources for local residents. I’m excited to see the work underway!”
"The Friends of Seaside State Park is working to preserve the story of Seaside and its architectural history,” Friends of Seaside State Park President Helen Post Curry said. “We are looking forward to collaborating with DEEP on the redesign of the park and enhancing its natural habitat so that this unique coastal property can be appreciated and enjoyed by all.”
“The Friends of Connecticut State Parks has long advocated for provision of park improvements at Seaside that will enhance visitor experience at this decidedly unique site along the Sound,” said Eileen Grant, past President and Current Board Member of Friends of Connecticut State Parks. “Our State Parks and Forests have received dramatically increasing numbers of patrons each year. It is important to provide the services and simple amenities that will enrich their visits. The Friends look forward to assisting in the redesign process to determine the best improvements for this historic and stunning property.”
“Seaside State Park represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure access for all to Connecticut’s shoreline,” said Eric Hammerling, Executive Director of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association. “The Park has a unique history and we appreciate DEEP’s commitment to work with CFPA, as well as the Friends of Seaside and Friends of CT State Parks, to both ensure robust public engagement and honor how Seaside’s rich legacy will be carried forward.”
Seaside became a state park in 2014, after serving for many years as a state health care facility, first for children with tuberculosis, and then for many years as a mental health care facility. DEEP then engaged in a multi-year planning process to identify future concepts and funding for the park that included extensive community engagement, offering an RFP to develop the “destination concept” included in the comprehensive plan and applying for grant funding.
DEEP will be convening a work group in the coming months to begin planning for the passive park design at Seaside. The work of this group will be informed by continued stakeholder engagement and will contribute to the historic interpretation to be incorporated into the ultimate design of the park.
For more information on how the State is working to restore your Connecticut State Parks, go here.
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