Hammonasset’s Future Part 1: Shoreline Greenway Trail Parking Lot Almost Done

The new Shoreline Greenway Trail parking lot
The new Shoreline Greenway Trail parking lot

Note: This is part one of a four part series regarding the future of the Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT. Part 1 reports on the new Shoreline Greenway Trail parking lot, part 2 will report on the new rustic cabins, part 3 will focus on the new West Beach Pavilion, and part 4 will inform readers about the new Meigs Point Nature Center.

Walkers and bikers of the scenic Shoreline Greenway Trail (SGT) section in Madison, which abuts the Hammonasset Beach State Park Campground, will soon have a new place to park their vehicles.

Located in the meadow near the Friends of Hammonasset plant and Christmas tree sales and east of the Hammonasset entrance, the new parking lot is marked with a yellow gate.

Traffic will be able to access the lot from Route 1 without having to pay any parking fees, said Henry Alves, Parks and Recreation Supervisor of Hammonasset. He said that the lot will have a gate that blocks off vehicular access to the rest of the park.

Alves said the lot is 80% complete and only requires signs and another layer of gravel.

During a recent visit, the new lot was drivable. 

Tom Tyler, Director of the State Parks and Public Outreach Division from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), said that the lot, which should be completed by Memorial Day 2014, will have 61 parking spaces including three ADA spaces and three RV spaces.

“The lot as it sits has enough distance from the marsh and the suitable soil conditions to absorb runoff from the entire parking lot. However, we added a central rain garden to catch half of the runoff with an overflow connected to a pre-existing storm drain in the area,” Tyler said.

The estimated cost, including design, materials, and installation, is $124,278, Tyler explained, adding that 80% came from grant funds.

While Tyler said that construction began in the fall of 2013, it was put on hold due to severe winter weather.

SGT received funds from the DEEP Recreational Trails Grant Program. The program provides federal highway funds to the DEEP, who in turn awards grants to municipalities, organizations or federal, state, and regional agencies for creating or maintaining trails. Other funds were raised by the SGT.

Tyler credited volunteers who donated their time towards the project.

About the Trail

The lot will have identical hours as the trail and will be open daily from sunrise to sunset.

To access the Madison trail, visitors can park in the lot, walk up the service road, and cross the park entrance. It’s about 1/4 of a mile from the lot to the beginning of the 8/10 of a mile trail, which runs parallel to Route 1.

This SGT section opened Aug. 22, 2013.

Once land is acquired, future plans would extend the off-road trail about 25 miles to Lighthouse Point in New Haven.

When that happens, Alves expects the lot will be more heavily used.

Early Morning Parking Problems

When the lot officially opens, early morning park visitors will be encouraged to use it.

Park gates don’t open to vehicular traffic until 8 a.m. so some park along the entrance road and in front of the gate and walk in Hammonasset with their dogs.

Alves says that while many leave before 8 a.m., it is still an unsafe practice.

He said the rules will become more strictly enforced after the new lot opens and informational notices are handed out.

Signs along the trail’s boardwalk state “Parking ban on entrance road is enforced. Cars parked here are subject to a $75 fine.”

There are “no parking” signs along the road and in front of the gate.


Tyler says it’s about a one mile walk from the lot to the beach.

Alves believes the difficulty of lugging supplies will deter beachgoers from using the lot to avoid paying the seasonal parking fee, which ranges from $6 to $22 depending on day, time, and residency status.

Other state beach parks with a free lot outside the gate include Chatfield Hollow in Killingworth and Harkness Memorial in Waterford.

Parking fees at Chatfield and Harkness range from $6 to $15.

Current Parking

The SGT website’s page on Madison states that folks can currently park in the partially finished SGT parking lot, the campground parking lot during the off-season, or on the grassy strip on the south side of the Boston Post Road between Webster Point Road and the park entrance. 

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Gus R. Horvath April 16, 2014 at 03:53 PM
Mick. That is why they built it. To get the parked cars from the entry road
Mick Hyland April 16, 2014 at 04:16 PM
For the beach visitors who don't want to pay for parking?
Gus R. Horvath April 16, 2014 at 07:31 PM
Mick. Yes. They have been parking on the entry road since I have been in Madison some 49 years.
Jay April 17, 2014 at 12:28 PM
actually no - no one has parked on the entry road when the park is open-they are there only before the park opens to walk. No on parks out near the post road to use the beach - it is almost a mile walk.. This is another example of state waste of money . Rebuilding the west bath rooms is another - there was no real reason to have demolished the ones damaged in the storm or remove a major section of the relatively new boardwalk and building a " nature center" zoo at Meigs is a waste - we do not need a another zoo. You all realize the park is only used to a significant degree for four months a year? Once school starts in late august user rates drop off to a point in late October less than a hundred people visit a day. The "nature trail" is another joke - .
Corey Sipe April 22, 2014 at 09:16 PM
Just to clarify, the main purpose of the lot was for users of the Shoreline Greenway Trail. The lot, the boardwalk closest to the park entrance road, and the Madison trail itself were paid for by federal grant monies and donations, no state tax dollars were used. Volunteers from SGT worked very hard to make the lot and trail possible.


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