MILFORD — Visitors to Silver Sands State Park are presented with a rustic beach environment that hasn’t changed a lot since it became a state park in 1960.

Those who go there still must suffer the indignities of portable toilets, and food and drink must be brought with you, or you’ll go hungry and thirsty. There’s nary a place to change out of a wet bathing suit, except under a large beach towel.

For years, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has had plans to upgrade the place to make it more like Connecticut’s other shore-front parks, but a fired-up Gayle Slossberg, the state senator from Milford, on Tuesday blasted that idea, one that that would add a concession stand and upgrade visitor amenities.

“The build-out of Silver Sands State Park is a project that the state cannot afford and it’s one that we do not want,” said Slossberg, who was backed up by the rest of Milford’s Hartford delegation — Republicans Charles Ferraro and Pam Staneski, and Democrat Kim Rose, as well as Mayor Benjamin Blake.

“Why would we want to spend nine million dollars to build out here when no one is asking for this, and more importantly, there are so many other needs that this state has?” Slossberg asked rhetorically.

The improvements call for a new concession building, restrooms and an office as well as a 4,700-square-foot maintenance garage.

About 200 parking spaces would be added, too —on many warm summer afternoons, the gates have to the closed to new arrivals because there’s no place to park. And a new bath house complex would be constructed near the beach and consist of three buildings on an elevated deck.

Also, plans call for a new boardwalk that would connect the existing beach boardwalk to the bath house and a short new boardwalk across the tidal wetlands will connect the existing main boardwalk to the new bath house.

In 2011 the cross-park boardwalk was opened which merges with the city's Walnut Beach area.

Slossberg said most of the people who use the park like it the way it is “in its natural state.” She added that the DEEP plans have environmental concerns, too.

“We’re happy with this park just the way it is,” she said.

The state Bond Commission is considering the $9.1 million park improvement this week, and Slossberg said that since the state “is still struggling with its finances” the state should leave this idea on the shelf.

“The state has other important needs, such as education, that are not being met,” she said.

The project has been discussed by DEEP which oversees state parks, for years.

“I join everyone in their outrage at this project,” said state Rep. Kim Rose. “We’d be spending money that we don’t have.”

Rep. Staneski agreed. “Our credit card is maxed out,” she said of state finances.

“I get a number of emails from constituents saying ‘Please don’t change our beach,” said Rep. Ferraro.

Slossberg made the announcement on the day she was to receive the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities’ State Legislator of the Year award. Slossberg will receivethe honor at CCM’s annual dinner meeting Tuesday night at Foxwoods Resort.

The park was created after Hurricane Diane destroyed 75 homes in 1955. At that point the city of Milford asked for help in restoring the beach.

After land transfers were complete in 1960, Silver Sands became the state's fourth shoreline park, after Sherwood Island, Westport; Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison and Rocky Neck State Park, East Lyme.

jburgeson@ctpost.com