WESTPORT, Conn. – The pavilion at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, which is beginning to show its age, will be getting a $3.5 million renovation at the end of the beach season.
Gov. Dannel Malloy, along with state and local officials, held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at the popular coastal park, the only state-owned beach on Long Island Sound in Fairfield County. .
“Parks like people, get older,” Malloy said. “It’s been 25 years since any major restoration has been done.”
The renovations will include putting on a new roof, repairing the kitchen and concession facilities, replacing the tables, adding skylights, improving the landscaping and installing solar panels to the roof.
“We’re going to get into the power-generation business,” Malloy said. The solar panels could create enough power to offset the lighting bills from the pavilion.
The start date for the renovations hasn’t been set yet. During the ceremony, Malloy and Commissioner Robert Klee of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said don’t want to disrupt the summer season at the coastal park.
“It’s a tight timeline,” Malloy said. The work must be done for the park to be ready for use by May 2015. He jokingly said to the contractors, “You better get it done!”
The governor, who grew up visiting Sherwood Island, also said that in a recent visit to the park he saw first-hand how badly the restrooms needed an update.
Although the exact start date for the construction work hasn’t been set yet, many are looking forward to the coming renovations.
For Friends of Sherwood Island member Louis Pietig of Westport, the renovations are extremely exciting, particularly for the kitchens and bathrooms.
“This was the first state park,” in Connecticut, Pietig said. About 250,000 people visit it each summer season. The park was created in 1914 by the State Park Commission with the purchase of 5 acres of salt marsh from the town of Westport.
Liz-Ann Koos, president of the Friends of Sherwood Island, said the group is committed to keeping a strong relationship with the state and echoed Pietig's excitement for the upcoming renovations.
“We are now very pleased to see the state moving forward with the major renovations to the pavilion,” Koos said.
In total, DEEP will be using over $60 million in grants for projects to improve more than 100 state parks in Connecticut.