Wharton Brook State Park, 5 local Wallingford parks remain closed

Wharton Brook State Park, 5 local Wallingford parks remain closed

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WALLINGFORD — Officials say local and state parks could remain closed for weeks following last week’s violent storms. 

“It’s going to take a while, it's bad out there,” said Mary Heffernon, chairwoman of the town Conservation Commission. “I would say it’s gonna be weeks at best.”

Five of about a dozen Wallingford parks remain closed — Lufbery Park, Marcus Cooke Park, Wallace Park, Pire Park, and Tyler Mill Preserve.

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Chris Collibee said Wharton Brook and Sleeping Giant state parks will be closed at least through Memorial Day weekend.

National Weather Service officials determined that Tuesday’s microburst, spawned by a tornado, brought 100 mph winds along a seven-mile path from Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden to the Tyler Mill Preserve in Wallingford, uprooting trees, snapping utility poles and damaging homes.

The National Weather Service said a tornado caused damage on a nine-mile path from Beacon Falls to Hamden.

Heffernon said there are a number of trees down on the trails. 

“If there’s a heavy gust of wind more things are going to come down,” Heffernon said. “We just want people to be safe.”

Heffernon said the public works department has been “working around the clock” to clear the parks. Caution tape cordons off most of the entrances of each park and public works is working on getting signs and concrete blocks to block the trails. 

At the state parks, DEEP has increased EnCon police patrols and the state Department of Transportation has added signs to certain highways near the parks to alert drivers of closures.

“The parks are simply not safe to be in as of yet,” Collibee said. 

DEEP will update its state park website, as well as social media accounts as parks reopen. The Wallingford town government website will also provide updates. 

Twitter: @baileyfaywright

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