Squantz Pond State Park has been plagued by issues in recent years. Locals would complain about strangers walking in the middle/side of the road, illegal parking and the overcrowded beaches at the New Fairfield pond.

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In an effort to turn this around, lawmakers took action. We spoke with New Fairfield State rep Pat Callahan recently to make the new rules clear to the community.

Need to Know Highlights

  • Squantz Pond State Park has a new system for gaining admission.
  • Walk-ins will not be welcome.
  • You need to enter the park with a vehicle and get a parking spot.
  • There is a new reservation based system for getting a parking spot.
  • The park will be considered at full capacity when the 250 parking spots are reserved.
  • You can reserve parking through the Reserve America app or by calling 1-877-668-CAMP
  • Reserve America charges a $2 transaction fee.
  • Out-of-state vehicles will be charged $22.
  • You can make parking reservations up to 14 days in advance.
  • The new system was put in place for safety reasons
  • The park was experiencing overcrowding & attendees were parking far away and dangerously walking down Route 39 in the road.

The Previous Problems at the Park & the Measures Taken by Lawmakers 

We found out there is a new reservation system at Squantz Pond where you can reserve parking in advance. Last year, you all put measures in place to stop people from walking in without parking, can you tell us about this?

Pat: "So here is what happened, I worked with the past administration in New Fairfield Pat Del Monaco, Chris Hall, State Parks, DEEP and State Police to try and come up with a solution to these people walking down in the middle of the road (Route 39). Over the years this has been a problem so we got a lot of calls to do this. We passed legislation with the help of the Danbury delegation and Senator Harding, it was to try and alleviate this and stop the walk-ins. So that passed the House with I think only two no-votes and that didn't go into effect until after January 1st. This is the year when they are actually implementing it, so with the current administration, the First Selectman in town Melissa Lindsey, the State Police, the same players we've gotten together several times on how to best implement it. Other state parks are using this Reserve America system which rather than reinvent the wheel they are using a reservation app that already exists. So, you can reserve your spot up to midnight or 11:59 the day before you want to come. So, it's all in an effort to stop people from lining up at 6 am, a mile down Route 39 and then when the park is full, they are parking on people's lawns or in the center of New Fairfield and walking with little kids, 2-3 miles to get to the park. It's a safety issue."

When & How to Reserve Parking 

Can I go on there now and start reserving, hoarding parking spots for the rest of the summer? 

Pat: "No, 14 days in advance is the most you can do. If you have a car registered in the State of Connecticut, it's free to go to your state park. There are people going on Facebook and complaining, did you know people complain on Facebook? They are complaining about the $2 fee. It's not the State of Connecticut's fee. Rather than spend the money to develop their own app, they are just using someone else's app and it's a $2 transaction fee and that is what keeps Reserve America in business, that is not us. So now, you're going to go up after 250 cars are reserved, it's going to shut it off. What DEEP is doing is using radio advertising from here to the Bronx, in Spanish and English and telling everyone that this is the new system, as they told them last year as well that this is going to be the new system that is already being used in places like Kent Falls and they are slowly adding parks. Every year in the legislature now, we had two other parks come forward in towns and saying they are having the same problems and they want to deal with it. So I think DEEP is finally trying to get ahead of this and use a reservation system that are other states already use to try and alleviate the traffic and safety problems in the towns where the parks are." 

Additional Information 

  • WTNH says if reservations are not sold out in advance, same-day reservations can be made online or at the park gate until 3 pm.
  • WTNH says no cancellations or refunds will be issued, DEEP said.

Listen to our entire interview with Pat Callahan below. You can hear my thoughts on his look and hear the story of when Pat met John O'Hurley AKA J. Peterman from Seinfeld.

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