A U.S. Army Corps. of Engineer project to dredge Clinton Harbor is sending more than 50,000 cubic feet of native Connecticut sand to Hammonasset beaches, says Hammonasset Beach Park Supervisor Henry Alves, at no cost to the park.
The project is taking the sand from an 8-foot navigation channel in Clinton Harbor that is 100-feet wide and about 1.1 miles long, that extends from Long Island Sound into Clinton Harbor.
The sandy dredge is being pumped through a pipeline about 1.8 miles to Hammonasset. The goal of the dredging project, which is clearly audible to people living in the vicinity of Clinton Harbor, is to remove a tip of Cedar Island that migrated into the channel, creating navigation problems for mariners, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. The $1.01 million job is being done by Select Transportation, Inc., of Hilliard, Ohio.
"We are reaping the benefits"
The project, while supported by tax dollars that go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, will not cost Hammonasset anything.
"We are reaping the benefits of the project. The sand will be pumped out onto East Beach. We're making out quite well," Alves said, adding that that the fact that the beach is being built up with native sand is of particular benefit to the park.
Alves said people should not be concerned if the sand initially looks black when it's being dredged up and dumped on the beach. That's to be expected, he said. "In a couple of days the sun will bleach it out and it will turn into normal beach sand," he said.
If weather cooperates, the pumping period will be about 30 days
While the Clinton Harbor project is expected to run through March, the pumping period is expected to be about 30 days, if the weather cooperates, Alves said.
As part of the project, a temporary dirt bridge has been built in the park, both for pedestrians on the walkway, and on the road. The pipe runs underneath.
Alves said there are several other projects recently completed or underway that add to the park.
Shoreline Greenway Trail bridge connects trail to park
The Shoreline Greenway Trail just partially completed a bridge over a marsh, linking the trail with the park. The 25-mile trail, when it is done, will eventually run from Lighthouse Park in New Haven to Hammonasset. Alves said he was pleased that the part of the project that links the trail to the park is ready.
Virginia Raff, a Shoreline Greenway Trail volunteer, said the bridge will be able to carry bikes as well as walkers when finished.
"When it is finished, there will be ramps at either end making it accessible to differently-abled people," she said. "The ramps are in the process of being built now. The stairways at either end are temporary. They were put there for the builders' use, and so the public can walk across it now. We love having people out there using it."
Construction on Shoreline Greenway Trail being done by skilled volunteers
Raff said the construction is being done by a wonderful crew of skilled volunteer led by Perry Rianhard. "His team includes Dave Kelley, John Paulson, George Haines, Ken Punzelt, Yasu Ueda, David Dwyer, Ted Raff, and Jack Wood," she said.
Another capital project being planned is to create a new trailhead and parking lot near the front of the park. "That will specifically be a trailhead for the Shoreline Greenway Trail," Alves said.
The entrance to the new trailhead will be accessible to people before they enter the main park gates.
BURT will be road-race ready
Another project will allow for the installation of a new gas and electrical system in the park, and there will be a recreational trail on top that of that system, Alves said.
Alves said he hopes that trail, called the BURT (buried utilities recreation trail), will be paved so that it will be stroller-friendly, handicapped-accessible, and easy for a wide range of people to enjoy. That park will cut across the campground down to Meigs Point and will be open year round.
Alves said the the BURT will be perfect for running events, because it will have distances marked off in a designated loop, and so road-race ready. "We have many running events at the park, so it will be perfect for that," he said.
Meigs Point Nature Center, West Beach improvements planned
A new Meigs Point Nature Center also is being planned. Alves said the project should "have a shovel in the ground" by October of this year. The current nature center will be turned into offices.
And, at West Beach, a new bathhouse and recreation area, complete with a basketball court is being planned. Other amenities will include a new concession area, and winter toilets and summer toilets.
"That should be a little more pleasant than the porta-potties," Alves said.
Editor's Note: This story was changed on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 at 12:50 p.m. to add additional information about the Shoreline Greenway Trail.