[CT Birds] Resolution of the East River Boat Launch Access Issues

James Winkelmann james.winkelmann at gmail.com
Sat Feb 13 13:43:45 EST 2016

A fine example of what civil, positive dialogue can accomplish. Thanks and commendations to all involved. 

James Winkelmann

Sent from my iPhone

> On Feb 13, 2016, at 8:22 AM, Kathy Van Der Aue via CTBirds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org> wrote:
> Keith Mueller and I met Thursday afternoon with Mike Payton of the Boating
> Division, Jenny Dickson and Ann Kilpatrick of the Wildlife Division and Officer
> John Torres of the Environmental Conservation Police to discuss the East
> River Boat Launch site access issues.  We all agreed that the parking lot
> sign limiting parking to boat trailers etc. was misleading and they have
> agreed to remove the sign and replace it with signs designating certain
> parking spaces for boat trailers.  The remaining spaces will be for public
> parking on a first come, first served basis. They also plan to put in
> concrete parking bumpers to try and organize the parking in the lot as
> spaces are undesignated right now.  The confusing signage will also be
> changed in other lots, such as the Great Island lot, over time.
> We additionally discussed the possibility of having a few spaces along the
> wider part of the access road designated for standing only (so a person
> could sit in the car with binoculars and survey the Saltmarsh Sparrows).
> Upon measuring the road and finding that this would be possible as the road
> was 28 feet wide, it was agreed that this could also be done.  There will
> be absolutely no parking on the other side of the access road.  Given a
> choice of which side of the road to designate for standing spaces, we chose
> the side which allowed the driver's side to have the best viewing (the
> right side as you go in toward the lot).  These spots will be on the
> portion of the road which is a little more elevated to reduce the
> possibility of flooding. The area will be clearly marked with signs that
> indicate only standing “parking” for wildlife viewing will be allowed and
> it must be between the signs. Having a designated section will help address
> concerns about emergency access and prevent the creation of pinch points at
> sections where the access road narrows.
> They ask for our patience as they need several layers of approvals in this
> tight budget year for ordering the signs and concrete parking bumpers, but
> expect it can be accomplished this spring.  As of now it is my
> understanding that the lot can be used for parking without fear of drawing
> attention from the EnCon police.   As to "Standing" along the access road,
> it is still marked "No Parking" on both sides.  Until the signs are changed
> the situation is in flux and I ask you to respect the signs.  I suspect
> Officers would use their discretion if there was some exciting rarity that
> drew birders to the spot before the signs are changed, but they would not
> be legally required to do so.
> Please let me know of any further concerns that you may have about this
> issue.  I am personally very grateful that our concerns were met with such
> respect by Mike Payton and am very happy with the result.  Jenny Dickson
> and Ann Kilpatrick were understandably concerned that the marsh not be
> infringed upon as it is valuable habitat for high conservation priority
> species such as the Saltmarsh Sparrow.  Officer John Torres was concerned
> with access for emergency vehicles if there are cars standing alongside the
> access road but he agreed that the width of the road was sufficient for
> emergency access.  I believe these concerns are valid and ask all of you to
> be most careful when using these areas to be sure not to block emergency
> access or infringe upon the marsh.
> Thanks to Keith for bringing this matter to COA's attention.
> Kathy Van Der Aue
> ​, President, COA​
> Southport, Connecticut
> Visit my Blog at http://naturaliststable.wordpress.com
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