New Milford to make park more secure following crowds
NEW MILFORD — Security officers will enforce the rules more strictly at Lynn Deming Park after crowds packed the town park on Candlewood Lake on the Fourth of July.
The biggest challenges are nonresidents parking on a side street and entering through the woods and residents shuttling multiple carloads of nonresidents into the park in a single day. But more signage, a fence, towing and another security officer or a park manager are expected to reduce the number of nonresidents, officials said during Monday’s Town Council meeting.
“We’re going to make sure that the park is secure, is safe and is a park that residents can enjoy,” Mayor Pete Bass said.
Bass said only four nonresidents have purchased day passes and there were far more than that number at the park over the holiday when he visited with the police department to do safety and alcohol checks.
He wrote about his experience on his mayoral Facebook page, reminding people of several of the rules, including picking up what is brought into the park, and that the park and docks are only open to residents and guests with the appropriate stickers or daily passes. Anyone parking on Candlewood Lake Road North for the park will have their vehicles towed.
Several people reported on Facebook and at the meeting that there were a lot of cars with New York license plates.
At Monday’s meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Daniel Calhoun said officials are reminding the security firm of the park rules so that the security guards are well versed and can enforce them. He said the owners are familiar.
Security officers from R & R Protective Services patrol Lynn Deming nonstop from when the park opens the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and closes on Labor Day. There are two officers on weekends and three on busy holidays. The town pays about $45,000 annually for the services, Calhoun said.
The park has 56 rules, spread out among four categories: admittance, use of the park and lakefront, vessels, and the diving board and swim dock. The rules were last revised in October 2016.
Some of the most important rules are that no alcohol or animals are allowed and a park pass is required. The facility can be reserved through the town’s Park and Recreation Department.
Calhoun said Fourth of July was just a “perfect storm” for the crowds because it was nice weather, so people wanted to be near the water, and that word has gotten out about how nice the park is after the $1.2 million renovation.
He said FirstLight Power Resources has a new access road that people are using to enter the park. He suggested a fence or additional staff could prevent this.
The council also suggested revoking people’s passes if they are caught shuttling multiple cars of nonresidents.
Another suggestion was to have wristbands that people would wear to show they’ve purchased passes.
Others suggested maybe investing in gates that close or cameras, based on funding.
More signs will be posted by the water to ensure only people with New Milford passes dock there, as well as signs at the pavilion to help those who rent the space and signs posted along the side road to prevent people without passes from parking and walking in.
”I don’t know how we enforce anything if we don’t tell them not to do it,” Councilwoman Katy Francis said.
Security officers can ask people to leave, but don’t have legal authority and can call the police if needed.