Squantz Pond State Park has a problem: it’s grievously overcrowded. Yesterday its parking lot reached capacity at 8:30 Am and was closed, Sunday it hit that point at 9.
Despite the closures, “walk-in” visitors continued streaming into the park, renewing the long-standing safety worries of town officials.
First Selectman Susan Chapman said it’s normal for the park to reach capacity shortly after the park opens on the Fourth of July, but she said that occurred even earlier this year because the state reduced the parking cap for Monday from 250 to 200 vehicles.
“It’s a disaster,” Chapman said.
Hundreds of beachgoers parked their cars at nearby parking lots or on side streets on Sunday and Monday and walked to the park.
Dennis Schain, a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the park supervisor and state parks director decided Sunday to reduce the number of cars allowed in the lot Monday after learning that walk-in visitors were paying to park at businesses down the street. Since there was no way to regulate the walk-ins, he said, officials hoped that limiting access to the park itself would reduce crowding.
Chapman and other town officials have long complained that allowing walk-ins permits crowding and creates dangerous pressures on lifeguards. She has repeatedly asked the state to ban walk-ins and to increase the number of lifeguards and state troopers at the park.
During the afternoon Sunday, Chapman tweeted a picture of walk-ins making their way along Route 37 and renewed her call for a moratorium. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton retweeted the post.
A spokesman for Connecticut Democrats called the tweet “racist” because most of those shown in the photo are black.
“This is racism, plain and simple,” said Leigh Appleby, communications director for Connecticut Democratic Party in a statement. “It’s outrageous that Susan Chapman and Mark Boughton would classify people of color as second class citizens. And it’s no surprise that leaders of the the party of Donald Trump would sink to this level. Both of these Connecticut Republican leaders need to immediately explain themselves. Bigotry has no place in our political discourse.”
Chapman scoffed at the characterization, saying there was nothing racist about the tweet.
“These are the very people I’m trying to protect,” she said. “It’s an unsafe situation for people coming to the park and an unsafe situation for people driving because they’re forced into oncoming traffic to go around them.”
The charge of racism is used exclusively by leftists to cut off discussion, though why Democrats don’t want to discuss an issue that affects all people: black, white, swimmers and drowners alike, and instead turn it into a political attack is beyond me. It’s just one more illustration of why the state is unmanageable: the party holding the reins is incompetent, and relies on phony charges of racism against Republicans to keep its majority base in its thrall.