For all intents and purposes, the Long Beach West restoration project has been completed.
That was the word last Thursday evening from Brian Carey, Stratford's Conservation Administrator who was speaking at the public forum hosted by Protect Our Environment of Stratford held at .
Carey was actually responding to a comment by Lordship resident Walter Rimkunas of Second Avenue who had complained that police had ticketed him for walking on Long Beach West recently during the restoration project that among other facets saw the removal of the old cottages located there.
“That is going to be worked out,” Carey said, referring to law enforcement issues and public access rights at Long Beach West.
“Am I going to get another ticket?” Rimkunas continued. “The sign posted out there still says, ‘No Trespassing.’”
"That sign will be removed … that sign has caused me pain," Carey admitted, adding, "It's almost impossible to police the site," although "the federal stimulus sign will remain.”
Carey stressed that public access to the beach is a priority and is allowed and noted that he met last week with contractors for the $900,000+ project that was paid through federal stimulus funding.
“We had the final sign-off but there is still a punch list” of small items remaining. “But for all intents and purposes the project is done.
“That not to say that there’s not more to do,” Carey continued. He cited a recent grant application to the Long Island Sound Fund to continue restorative work, including the removal of invasive species. That grant decision is six to eight months out, and Carey reminded the audience that financial “resources are limited at this point going forward.”
But he did tout Long Beach West project as unique. “This type of [barrier beach restoration] project has only been done a couple of times in the United States,” he said, including one on northern Long Island.
“There’s still a footprint of man out there,” Carey said, which is not surprising given that the cottage area had been developed over a period of 100 years or more.
“It won’t revert back to pristine beach overnight,” he said. But “the goal is to have a unique public park not like anything else on the Connecticut coast.”