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'Friends' hail $3.1M in upgrades set for Sherwood Island

Published 4:10 pm, Friday, May 23, 2014
  • Upgrades to the pavilion at Sherwood Island State Park are included in an overall $3.1 million package for improvements at the Westport park expected to be approved by the state Bond Commission. Photo: Contributed Photo / Westport News
    Upgrades to the pavilion at Sherwood Island State Park are included in an overall $3.1 million package for improvements at the Westport park expected to be approved by the state Bond Commission. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Liz-Ann Koos, president of the Friends of Sherwood Island, said that anyone who recently has used the lavatories at the first state park would know why the $3.1 million in upgrades announced Friday are long overdue.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement the funding is expected to be approved for the Westport park at the next meeting of the state Bond Commission.

"I'm very pleased to hear the announcement," Koos said. "The money will be used to totally renovate the public facilities and will also go for major renovations to the park's main pavilion."

She said the pavilion upgrade, another pressing need since events are staged there throughout the season, will transform the old structure, while maintaining its "historical aspects."

The pavilion, built in 1961, has not had any major renovations in nearly 25 years and "is showing its age," Malloy said in his statement.

The funding being requested will allow the Department of Construction Services, in conjunction with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, to install a new roof on the pavilion along with solar panels for electricity and hot water, he explained.

In addition, the governor said, the plumbing and bathroom facilities will be updated, upgrades will be made to the concession area, and necessary site landscaping will be completed.

Koos said plans for the upgrades have been in the works for some time and information has been provided to her support group, which works hand-in-hand with DEEP.

"We help fund some of the activities the state doesn't," she said. This summer, the Friends of Sherwood Island will pay for seven interns at the park. The Friends also fund programs, like the ones held during the summer for children and has funded, with matching grants, a nature center in the park as well, she added.

Sherwood Island is Connecticut's oldest state park and is visited by hundreds of thousands of park-goers each year.

"It is also home to the state's 9/11 Memorial and therefore has a special place in the state park system," Malloy said.

"As we continue to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Connecticut's state park system, it is vital that we invest in their infrastructure to ensure all park visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience," he said. "Our state parks are destinations for millions of people every year and provide many recreational opportunities, including swimming, fishing, boating and hiking. They also contribute significantly to the state's economy."

"The improvements we plan at Sherwood Island State Park will greatly improve the park-going experience for the thousands of visitors the park receives every year," said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee.

The Bond Commission meeting will be held May 30 in Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.