It's one of the nicest parks in the local area, especially this time of year for a nice winter walk. But due to bridge structural problems, that could all change at Harrybrooke Park.

The great thing about Harrybrooke Park during the winter is the paved trail that goes completely around most of the park. It makes it easy to take a nice hike no matter what Mother Nature dishes out. Snow, ice, even rain, it's a great way to keep your feet dry and still get in a little exercise.

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Now that may all change due to problems with the bridge that serves as an exit to the park.

The park administration took to Facebook on Wednesday afternoon (January 12) to let the public know about the situation that's now unfolding at the park that could either shut Harrybrooke down for awhile, or limit the number of people who could enjoy the winter in the park.

Here's the message that Facebook users saw with details of what's happened at the park that's now put them in a tough position.

Well, it’s a day we have been dreading for years, but do to structural integrity, we are forced to close the exit bridge. Over the next month, the board and our staff will be reviewing the options, searching grants and doing our share of praying.
For the winter months, the park gate will likely be closed as the entrance cannot support 2-way traffic. Currently the gates are closed for safety as the park is covered with ice anyway, but please know your safety comes first, followed by historic and natural preservation.
It’s a sad day for Harrybrooke but we are working on all of the best solutions.
FYI, estimated restoration is about $2M.

Now the big question is whether the park will close down to make the repairs on the bridge, or will people still be allowed to use that park by parking in the area prior to the park entrance gate?

We reached out to the park's Executive Director Bill Buckbee for comment and here's what he had to say about the problem the park is now facing:

"We had the bridge evaluated about 4 years ago, and were told we would need to address the structural integrity of the bridge in about 5 years. We knew this was going to be an issue, so that's why we brought in engineers to examine the bridge again in December. The news wasn't good, and I knew that this day would eventually come, but we do have some options. We have a meeting with the bank and the board of directors coming up in early February where we can address this bridge issue. Thank God we're listed as an historic site in the state of Connecticut, now we're able to possibly get state funding for the repair of the bridge. If we had to totally replace the bridge, it would cost on the upwards of $6 million and there would be no state funding, but because it would be a restoration and we are an historic property, the option would be repairs that will cost close to $2 million and we would be eligible for the state funding to help offset that cost."

So the big question is whether the park will remain open or will you have to shut down for a while while your addressing the bridge situation?

"The park will remain open, but for the winter we are going to keep all the gates closed for now. People can park in the area prior to the entrance and walk into the park. Since the bridge is off limits to vehicle traffic, there's no way we can use the entrance for two way traffic, it's just too dangerous. The exit bridge will remain open for people walking only. There will be no cars or any vehicles for that matter allowed on the bridge until it's repaired."

For information on what Harrybrooke Park has to offer, and to get a schedule for their upcoming fundraising events which now have become more important then ever, just visit their website at harrybrookepark.org.

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