Decision to reopen Matthies Park on hold 


BEACON FALLS — Months after a tornado ripped through town, Matthies Park remains closed due to unsafe conditions in some areas of the park.

A tornado with winds of up to 110 mph touched down in town on May 15 and continued on a 10-mile path to Hamden, causing significant damage in spots.

The effort in the storm’s aftermath focused on cleaning and clearing public roads and areas that were an immediate public safety concerns. Some work has been done in secondary areas like the parks, but there is still more clearing needed at Matthies Park.

“The bottom line is there are many areas in Matthies Park right now that are safe to go into,” said First Selectman Christopher Bielik during the Board of Selectmen’s October meeting. “There are many areas that still have some work to be done.”

Officials are weighing whether to open Matthies Park but cordon off areas that are deemed unsafe due to damage from the storm. The issue holding them back is the town’s potential liability if someone gets injured in the park.

“Anyone can sue anyone for anything at any time. The question is, is the action viable,” Town Attorney Fred Stanek told the board.

If the town moves forward with partially opening the park, Stanek recommended officials place signs at the entrance and in the park about designated areas that are closed due to storm damage.

The board took no action on the issue. Selectmen Michael Krenesky and Peter Betkoski said they wanted to do a walk-though in the park to see what condition the park is in before making a decision.

A walk-through is expected to occur this week, and the board is slated to discuss the issue again at its November meeting.