New Fairfield Rep Explains Squantz Pond Issues: ‘Someone is Going to Get Killed on the Roadway’
New Fairfield State Representative Pat Callahan is working to fix the problems that exist at Squantz Pond.
We asked Pat to join the I-95 Morning Show to explain what is wrong, the steps he's taken to fix the issues and do it in a way a child (me) could understand.
Locally, Squantz Pond has become a joke. It's been a problem for awhile but when did you identify that you were going to do something about this?
"Last summer on the busiest, warmest weekends I'd go up stand at the entrance and talk to park staff and then I spoke to the Board of Selectman in New Fairfield and the State Police. The poor guys and young ladies at the State Park trying to manage this are running around sweating saying please do something to control the walk-ins because we can't control the capacity, someone is going to get killed on the roadway so I started to talk to the Parks Department for the State. They said we have no regulation where we can do that, you have to do that. I said c'mon you created this situation because it's your state park. So, I was told this is what you have to do, I was told by other legislators, you're never going to get legislation through because someone always blocks it. Why? I don't know.
We started drafting legislation and I got Senator Steve Harding and Senator Julie Kushner involved and they recognized and understood that we have an issue. The problem is you've got no shoulder on Route 39, people drive 50-55 miles an hour and the next thing you know you've got some guy with a folding table tied around his chest pulling all this stuff a mile down Route 39 with his kids walking down the middle of the road and somebody is going to get killed. I have videos of it, pictures of it and they start lining up at four o'clock in the morning. It created a huge traffic issue and we wanted to get DEEP to finally do something about it so I drafted this legislation with the help of Selectman in New Fairfield and the Senators and then we tweaked it a little bit with an amendment the other day when we did it on the House floor and it passed. I guess people have been trying to do this for about twenty years and we finally got it through."
So, what is the next step? What has to happen to make change a reality
"As you know the process, if you saw Schoolhouse Rock as a kid now it's got to go up through the Senate..."
That's right! My entire knowledge of what you guys do comes from Schoolhouse Rock.
"That is why I bring it down to your level Lou."
Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
"So it has to go upstairs to the Senate and I'm being told it will get called in the Senate but the way things work, they can say we're not going to call it. But with Senators Harding and Kushner on board, I'm hoping it gets called. And, it's an environment committee bill and I'm a ranking member in the environment committee so I believe that helps because I have a little more say in getting it called to the next step. So then it's just got to get signed by the Governor. Obviously it's not going to do anything this summer because laws don't go into effect immediately, it wouldn't go into effect until January of next year. But now it's going to give teeth to the issue of walk-ins because in the legislation it talks about the public safety of people walking on the streets and it basically gives DEEP the authority to use that as a factor to stop that."
What is the current capacity at Squantz Pond, like how many human beings?
"It goes by cars and it's 250 right now, I live right down the road and that fills up by 8 am and then it becomes people driving all over the area, parking wherever they want and walking across the Squantz causeway and even from Stop N' Shop in the center of town, with children. It really comes down to a safety issue not only in the park because it's a body of water but also people walking on the sides of the street with no shoulder."
Listen to my entire interview with Pat Callahan below. In it, you can hear my simpleton questions, comparisons to the Walking Dead and what life is like at the State Capitol.
BONUS - Each local politician has a special picture in my phone. Find out which iconic American President I assigned to Pat's phone number below.
P.S. I am damn proud of the work we do on the I-95 Morning Show. I've lived in the local area my whole life so the problems that exist here are mine, as much as they are yours. We work hard to get this local information out to the listening audience in a way that is fun and inclusive. When people don't get involved in their community it's not always laziness, I think in many cases it's intimidation. The processes and the vocabulary can scare some people off.
We're doing our level best to provide a forum for politicians while supplying the audience with an entertaining, easily digestible product. So, I am thankful for all of the local leaders who do take my calls and make appearances on the show. If nothing else it shows the community, folks are working to make life better around here. From a personal standpoint, it's taken a lot of years and convincing speeches on my part to get people to let me have these "boring conversations."