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

mary mushinsky marymushinsky at att.net
Tue Feb 23 00:06:13 EST 2016

Thank you, Kathy and DEEP, for a good resolution. Nothing like a site visit for observation and negotiation to help reach a solution. Good work, all!Mary Mushinsky, Wallingford 

    On Saturday, February 13, 2016 8:23 AM, Kathy Van Der Aue <kathyvda at gmail.com> 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, ConnecticutVisit my Blog at http://naturaliststable.wordpress.com/


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