Silver Sands fire: ‘It was insane’
MILFORD — Ray Meglio had just driven home sometime after 10:30 p.m. and was about to turn in when he saw red flashing lights outside his second story window.
“I couldn’t have been in the house more than 10 minutes,” said Meglio.
He stepped out onto his porch to see chaos. Fire hoses stretched the length of East Broadway toward the beach at the end of the road. There was smoke and a bunch of onlookers.
“It was insane,” said Meglio. He could see the flames shoot very high into the sky.
Meglio called it a very loud fire.
Within two hours, the new Silver Sands State Park buildings that seemed to be taking forever to build, was gone. All that remained was a steady stream of embers that Meglio feared might ignite his roof or a neighbor’s deck. Eventually he retreated inside.
The next morning, surveying the burnt shell of the nearly complete controversial pavilion and visitors center, Meglio could simply shake his head.
“Awful,” he said, as police went door to door to interview neighborhood residents. “What we had there were a couple of shacks. Progress is progress.”
Pete Micanovic, of Bethany, said he feels the same way.
He and his wife have been looking to buy a house in the neighborhood. Frequently Micanovic and his adult son walked the long stretch of sand along Silver Sands State Park.
It reminds him of Hamanasett, Micanovic said. “I didn’t know about the controversy. I just know it was a nice location. I just hope they find out who did it and rebuild it.”
Another neighbor, who declined to give her name as she walked her dog past the site, said she also was looking forward to the project’s completion.
“Some were against it. I never was,” she said, adding. “I wouldn’t say that in front of my neighbors.”
While some feared the project would increase traffic on the already busy street, Meglio, who has owned his house 15 years, didn’t think so.
Some, he said, already come down the road mistakenly thinking it is an entrance to the park, so would end up parking on the street. Especially kids, on weekends, kegs in tow.
“People had mixed feelings about it,” Meglio said. “My feeling what we had there was garbage. People would come one way or the other. I am not sure putting in a nicer structure would generate additional traffic.”
Lee Sawyer is a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which is in charge of the park. He said local opposition to on street parking should have been alleviated when the state passed its Passports for Parks Initiative providing free on site parking in state parks.
Sawyer added that the state views the project as having great benefits to the public and one that will dramatically improve the visitor experience. Once the investigation into the fire is complete he said DEEP hopes to see the project move forward.
Jeff Beckham, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Administrative Services, which was overseeing construction, said the general contractor, Scopes Construction of New Britain was required to carry insurance on the project. Those details are being reviewed today.
It is the first time Beckham, who has been with the department since 2005, can remember anything like this happening at a department construction project.