State parks popular over Memorial Day Weekend could lose funding

(WTNH) – People across Connecticut enjoyed many of the state parks this weekend. With a hefty budget deficit hanging over the state, funding for those parks is on the chopping block.

People visit state parks between 8 and 9 million times a year. There are more than a hundred parks in Connecticut that could soon lose funding.

Linda McAvoy and Andrea Coyle spent part of their Sunday at Silver Sands State Park in Milford, enjoying a day at the beach on a holiday weekend.

“We come here with my husband’s family and we just enjoy family and we enjoy this beach,” said McAvoy.

However when the new fiscal year starts on July 1, it could come with spending cuts that would impact state parks like Silver Sands. That’s because the state is facing a projected budget deficit of around $5 billion. It has to make up that money somewhere, and that may mean about a third of funding for state parks could be cut.

“[Silver Sands] is such a beautiful place to enjoy,” said McAvoy. “I think it would be shameful not to keep the parks up.”

There are already cuts in place through the end of next month that limit the number of hours lifeguards will be on beaches. The changes already in place also mean reduced maintenance at parks, but if further cuts are necessary, that could mean even less maintenance. You might see taller grass at parks; even the bathrooms could close.

“I think it’s sad. [Silver Sands] is like a jewel of Connecticut,” said Coyle. “I’ve been coming down here for 60 years.”

The new two year budget has to be in place by the end of next month.

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