Working to clean up Gardner Lake

August 1, 2017

Article as it appeared in the Norwich Bulletin

SALEM- A dumpster has been placed at Gardner Lake State Park in Salem to combat the beaches trash problem.

The beach previously had a carry-in-carry-out policy, for which a sign still hangs in the park, but that didn’t stop people from leaving behind piles of trash and used diapers. The dumpster has been placed between the beach and the boat launch after a conference call between Lyden and representatives of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on Wednesday.

Dennis Schain, director of communications at DEEP, confirmed the dumpster had been placed in the park by state officials. “We will give this approach a try,” Schain said. “We ask everyone to cooperate and place trash in the dumpster and not to litter.”

The dumpster is separated from the beach by a fence and bushes, which has kept some beach goers from noticing the new addition. Porsche Bellamy, of Norwich, said she had been at the beach all day and hadn’t noticed it. “I think they would be better off placing trash cans all throughout the park. I think about that every time I come here,” Bellamy said. “I think it’s a smart idea because people don’t carry their trash out. But I think they need to move the dumpster closer so people can actually see that it’s there.”

Although Lyden considers this a step in the right direction, he said he is not finished. Lyden also spoke with the DEEP about implementing an alcohol ban on the beach, which he believes contributes to the trash problem.

Lyden said he spent 30 minutes Friday morning picking up 105 beer and alcohol bottle caps at the state beach. He then sent photographs of the caps to DEEP officials, and offered to forward them the litter. “Why not,” Lyden said. “They want proof that alcohol is a problem here, then let them see it.”

State Sen. Paul Formica, who represents the 20th District, has drafted a letter asking the DEEP to establish a temporary alcohol ban in the park. Formica said he has sent it to seven local representatives for their signatures. Since Gardner Lake borders Salem, Montville and Bozrah, Formica said he wanted to get as many representatives from those areas involved as possible. “If a temporary alcohol ban can take us through the rest of the season, then the DEEP can take the off-season to make a decision about a permanent ban,” Formica said.

Formica said he was motivated to draft the letter after attending a meeting of the Gardner Lake Authority this month when he said he was shown photos of piles of trash and boats interfering in the swimming area. “This letter is also requesting to expand the swim area,” Formica said. “I saw a photo of boats pulling up where people were swimming. It’s a concern that if people are consuming alcohol and entering the water, especially if this is happening, there could be a lot of danger.”

As of Friday, Formica, Lyden, Mayor Ronald McDaniel of Montville and state Reps. Holly Cheeseman and Kevin Ryan have signed the letter. Formica said he also sent the letter to state Reps. Kathleen McCarty and Mike France and state Sen. Cathy Osten.