Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rell Gives Milford Green Light To Boardwalk... Again.

MILFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Friday the state will honor its commitment to Milford and move forward with a boardwalk project to link Walnut Beach and Silver Sands State Park.

Rell Friday ordered the state departments of Public Works and Environmental Protection to lift their suspension of the project and proceed with the $2 million boardwalk.

The project, which had gained approval and funding from the state Bond Commission in 2006, had never made it past the planning stages.

Work almost started in 2008, but nests of piping plovers, a species of bird protected by state and federal statutes, were found in the proposed path of the boardwalk.

The project was redesigned to avoid the plover nests, but still sat on the shelf until last month when the DEP and DPW announced the project had been suspended indefinitely as a way to save money in the midst of a recession.

That all changed Friday with an order from Rell to go ahead with the project.

“Given the state’s budget deficit and the current state of the economy, I appreciate the efforts of the DPW and the DEP to cut costs wherever possible,” Rell said in statement. “But we have made a commitment to the city and people of Milford and it needs to be honored. Bond Commission approvals for this project were granted nearly three years ago — had the work not been held up, it probably would have been completed by now. This project should go forward.”

Rell’s decision came on the heels of a press conference held Thursday by local officials urging her to step in and give the project a green light.

“I had the opportunity to speak to Governor Rell today, and I expressed my gratitude and the gratitude of Milford and the citizens and business owners of Walnut Beach and Silver Sands areas,” Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. said Friday. Richetelli said based on Rell’s direction, the DPW should solicit bids for the project “immediately. ” A firm time-line for the project should emerge next week.

“I’m so ecstatic right this minute I think I’m going to celebrate,” Walnut Beach Association President Joe Garbus said when told Rell had ordered the project to go forward.

The boardwalk has long been sought to reconnect Walnut Beach to Silver Sands State Park and city officials and residents are hopeful increased foot traffic will drive revitalization in the Walnut Beach and Silver Sands areas.

Original Article

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