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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seeking a silver lining

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— Top city officials are forming a task force to address concerns from residents living adjacent to Silver Sands State Park.
State House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford; state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford; and Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr.; along with five neighbors, will comprise the panel.
Some of the concerns raised by residents include parking, flooding, debris, trespassing, and property encroachment.
"What we’ve accomplished at Silver Sands over the past decade is truly a remarkable transformation that everyone in Milford can be proud of," Amann said in a prepared statement. "With that progress though also comes a responsibility to ensure that residents living nearby share in that experience and that their quality of life is not compromised."
Amann, Slossberg and Richetelli will all co-chair the new task force, which is being called the Committee for the Benefit of the Silver Sands Community. The first official meeting is 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at City Hall. The co-chairmen will be joined by five residents: Kathryn Chicos, Sandra Haley, Michael Hawie, Thomas Rea, and Marsha Ziebell.
Slossberg said her phone — and Amann’s — recently started ringing from residents who live adjacent to the state park after the state Department of Environmental Protection sent letters to residents informing them that some items like fencing and sheds are erected on state land.
Slossberg said some residents felt threatened by the letters, as it’s been unclear for a long time what the boundary lines are. She noted that the residents used the land before it became part of the state park in the mid-1990s. A portion of Silver Sands used to serve as a landfill before its transformation.
Amann and Slossberg interceded on the residents’ behalf, and Slossberg said in some cases fencing and sheds were relocated, but ultimately the matter was handled amicably with the DEP.
Other concerns residents have raised include a lack of parking on streets, and worries that it would be difficult for emergency vehicles to navigate the narrow roads. Some people trek through residents’ yards to get to the beach, Slossberg said.
"We’ll meet and identify issues and come up with some solutions by working together," she said.
Richetelli said he is pleased to work with Slossberg, Amann and the residents to come up with solutions to their concerns.
"It is very important that our residents living around Silver Sands feel good about the growth of the park as a city attraction," Richetelli said.
Chicos said she is hopeful the committee can be successful in targeting long-term solutions.
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