Malloy visits Indian Well State Park: ‘This is a pretty spot’

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy enjoys a lighter moment during his Shelton visit with Indian Well State Park lifeguards Beau Andrea, 17, of Ansonia, center, and Amber Thomson, 18, of Ansonia.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy visited Indian Well State Park in Shelton last week as part of a tour to promote Connecticut’s state parks in advance of the four-day holiday weekend.

“We have 107 state parks and 32 state forests and the system has been in existence for 100 years,” Malloy said while in Shelton. “It’s a great, inexpensive way for people to enjoy Connecticut.”

Tim DeScheen of Ansonia was among those visiting Indian Well with his family and friends a day before the Fourth of July, beating the holiday crowds.

“We just had to get out today,” DeScheen said in reference to the hot and humid weather. “We like the water here — swimming is the best part of coming here.”

Park supervisor Joe Maler said he expected a large crowd at Indian Well on July Fourth, with gates likely having to be closed when the parking lot becomes full sometime between the late morning and early afternoon.

“We reach capacity on every Fourth of July, depending on the forecast,” Maler said.

Tom Tyler, director of state parks, said this warm weather will bring lots of visitors over the coming days. “It will stay hot and dry for most of the weekend, which is the recipe for big crowds,” Tyler said.

Malloy agreed with those predictions. “This park will be packed over the weekend,” he said.

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy speaks with the press while visiting the park in Shelton.Indian Well offers range of activities

The 200-acre park off Route 110 and along the Housatonic River has a beach, recreational fields, hiking trails, a  waterfall, and parking for about 500 vehicles. In addition to sitting on the beach, visitors often play soccer and volleyball. The popular horseshoes pits will be rebuilt in the future, Maler said.

“This is a pretty spot. It’s gorgeous,” said Malloy, standing on the beach and looking out at the Housatonic River.

Malloy said the state’s parks are a good deal for visitors. “The cheapest club membership you can get in Connecticut,” he said.

Daily admission to Indian Well costs $9 for an in-state vehicle and $15 for an out-of-state vehicle. A season pass for the state parks can be bought for $67.

Tyler said 22 of the state parks charge a parking fee, like Indian Well, while the rest offer free admission. Anyone can walk or bicycle into all state parks at no charge.

 

Park memories

Malloy said he remembers visiting Indian Well State Park once as a child. Having grown up in Stamford, where he later was mayor, Malloy said his family usually frequented Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.

“Someone would have to show up early and wait in line [at Sherwood Island] to claim a table because there would be 60 to 70 of us,” he said of the Malloy family gatherings.

 

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A view of Indian Well State Park in Shelton on Wednesday afternoon.

Malloy said the state’s parks are a good deal for visitors. “The cheapest club membership you can get in Connecticut,” he said.

Daily admission to Indian Well costs $9 for an in-state vehicle and $15 for an out-of-state vehicle. A season pass for the state parks can be bought for $67.

Tyler said 22 of the state parks charge a parking fee, like Indian Well, while the rest offer free admission. Anyone can walk or bicycle into all state parks at no charge.

 

Upgrading the parks

Malloy said state parks and forests offer swimming, hiking, fishing, boating and other outdoor activities.

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The entrance sign at Indian Well State Park on Route 110 in Shelton.

Millions of dollars are being spent upgrading the parks, he said, with some renovation work required after recent storms such as Irene and Sandy. “We’ve had a couple of tough years, weather wise,” the governor said.

Malloy said he generally favors putting funds toward improvements at existing parks rather than trying to create new parks.

“I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to add land for park and conservation purposes, but we also need to take better care of our parks,” he said. “We need to invest in our parks.”

 

Flooding at Indian Well

Flooding has been an issue at Indian Well and the nearby Maples riverfront residential area of Shelton. At the state park, the overflowing water can cause fence posts to come out of the ground, according to Maler.

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Indian Well State Park lifeguards Beau Andrea, 17, of Ansonia, left, and Ciara Thomson, 21, of Ansonia keep a close watch on swimmers in the Housatonic River.

 

“It’s a little bit of a nightmare,” Maler said of the need to repair damaged fencing.

Malloy noted that the Housatonic is a major river. “It stretches from Massachusetts to Long Island Sound. We have some control points with dams, but Mother Nature is pretty tough,” he said, pointing to the two recent tornadoes in Connecticut as examples.

As a park supervisor, Maler oversees three state parks in the region — Indian Well in Shelton, Osbornedale in Derby and Silver Sands in Milford.

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