Silver Sands Status Update


Changes made to the final version of the plan as a result of public comment, consultation with staff, and permit condition requirements:

Eliminated paving in the overflow lot referred to by some as the ‘sparrow lanes’

Eliminate the reconfigured paved parking to the west of the paved parking lot and limit that to regrading to provide more positive drainage to the existing swales, and preserving the wildlife habitat value of that area.

Some minimal drainage improvements will be made, and the area will remain natural sand and grasses. (The existing paved lot will be repaved)

Great Creek Improvements

Improvements to Great Creek were not initially included in this project, but have been included in the final design.

A mitigation plan will be implemented in the Great Creek that has three elements. The first element is the creation of 5 new pools in the wetland to enhance habitat for foraging wildlife.  The second element of the mitigation plan will be the restoration or creation of approximately 2400 feet of tidal channel, which will be constructed to further enhance waterbird habitat in the Great Creek system.   The third element of the plan will be further control the Phragmites throughout the Park.  This would include managing the Phragmites through a 3-successive-year herbiciding and mowing regime in an area of approximately 80 acres across Great Creek, Fletcher Creek, and Nettleton Creek systems throughout the Silver Sands State Park.

As background, the State Parks Division proposed a plan to mitigate the potential adverse habitat impacts of the new “short-cut” boardwalk at Silver Sands by creating new wetland habitat in the northern section of Fletcher’s Creek, just west of the current boardwalk.  During the hearing on the permit for that boardwalk, concerns were raised about the compensatory value of the proposed wetland creation in that area. Additional discussions with the Wildlife Division have resulted in a revised mitigation plan that would shift the proposed habitat enhancement slightly to the east, in nearby Great Creek at Silver Sands State Park. The Wildlife Division has determined that habitat restoration and enhancement in the Great Creek area would be of better utility, as the tidal creeks and pannes with the marsh provide significant habitat for waterbirds and other wildlife with a minimum of human disturbance.

Pedestrian access

Pedestrian/bicycle lane is being added to the plan and will be installed from Meadowside Road into Silver Sands State Park

Current Status

The project was put out to competitive bid by the Department of Administrative Services, the state agency responsible for managing the project.  A number of bids were received from qualified bidders.  Funding for construction has been authorized by the general assembly but needs to be allocated by the bond commission.  The project has submitted for consideration to be placed the next state Bond Commission agenda to authorize the project to proceed.

As an FYI, the project will continue protection to the piping plover that might nest on the beaches, and is addressed in the seasonal work closure period between March 15th and September 1st.

Some final thoughts:

Most of the work involved in this project would occur on land that has been previously reclaimed from prior uses.  We believe the project carefully balances the priority to protect the coastal environment by not only improving wildlife habitat, but by addressing the very real sanitation needs of hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.  The land was a densely developed beach cottage community that was extensively storm damaged, and the remainder of the site was for decades the city’s municipal landfill with degraded and filled tidal wetlands.  The state has invested millions of dollars over the years to assemble the property for a public park, and to reclaim and restore the area from its past neglect.  We strongly believe that the protection and enhancement of the coastal environment within the Park is paramount. The Park itself is currently an oasis in what is otherwise an intensively developed residential shoreline, and elements of this project will further enhance the wetlands and habitat value of the Great Creek marsh complex.  Details of the enhancement elements of this project have been developed in close coordination with the Wildlife Division of the DEEP to assure that the habitat improvements for shorebirds and other wildlife are maximized.

Susan K. Whalen
Deputy Commissioner
Environmental Conservation
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127
P: 860.424.3005|F: 860.424.4070 |E: