DOT to reopen access to state park

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A locked gate that blocks public access to the Naugatuck State Forest at the end Cold Spring Road in Beacon Falls is expected to be removed and the road reopened by the end of October. –FILE PHOTO
A locked gate that blocks public access to the Naugatuck State Forest at the end Cold Spring Road in Beacon Falls is expected to be removed and the road reopened by the end of October. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — After being closed for more than a year, an access point to High Rock State Park from Cold Spring Road is set to be reopened in October.

State Rep. Theresa Conroy (D-105) announced last week officials with the state Department of Transportation have vowed to reopen the road to once again allow public access to the state park, which is part of the Naugatuck State Forest, from Beacon Falls.

“Cold Spring Road is a key entry point to the state forest,” said Conroy, who met with DOT Commissioner James Redeker and local and state officials Sept. 18 to discuss reopening the road, in a press release. “I’m very pleased to hear the gate will be removed very soon.”

The road was originally closed in May 2012 as repairs were being done on the Metro-North Railroad line that runs through the area. Cold Spring Road was supposed to be reopened after the work was done last September. But, state officials kept the road blocked with a locked gate because they felt it posed a major safety concern due to its proximity to the railroad.

Town officials and local legislators have been lobbying the state since then to reopen the road. Their fight has come to an end.

DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said the road will be reopened in mid- to late October after the state makes some safety improvements. Everhart said about 3,000 feet of fencing as well as signage cautioning pedestrians about the active railroad will be installed along the railroad.

“We are reopening it in response to concerns by citizens and some legislators,” Everhart said. “We have tried to balance our safety concerns with the concerns of the community and believe we have found the best solution for everyone.”

News that the road will be reopened was music to the ears of town officials.

“On behalf of the citizens of Beacon Falls, thank you to Representative Conroy for her assistance in getting the road reopened,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said.

Smith said reopening the road means people will once again have the access to enjoy the state forest, something he felt should never have been taken away in the first place.

Smith and Economic Development Commission Chairman Jeremy Rodorigo both said reopening the road will boost the economy in town. They said the state forest draws visitors from the surrounding area to downtown Beacon Falls.

“It’s a great asset that the town has enjoyed for many years,” Rodorigo said.

Rodorigo said the commission is trying to promote the natural resources and beauty of Beacon Falls to attract visitors.

“When they closed [Cold Spring Road] it was a big blow to us,” Rodorigo said.

Rodorigo, who is also the spokesman for Beacon Hose Company No. 1, added reopening public access to the state forest will also benefit first responders. He recalled a medical call the company responded to this summer. He said emergency responders had to cut the locks off three gates to get into the forest because the key they had didn’t work. Reopening the road, he said, will make it easier to respond to an emergency in the park. He added in the 25 years he’s been with Beacon Hose he has never responded to an emergency call in the park involving an accident on the railroad tracks.

“I’m glad they came to an understanding,” Rodorigo said.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you to Rep. Conroy for helping make this happen. Also thank you to EDC Commissioners Jack Betkoski and Bob Bradley, as well as 1st Selectman Gerry Smith. This should never have been closed in the first place, but these folks worked hard to make sure it got reopened.