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Sound Bites: Get your beach passes for this busy summer

Beaches in Madison, Connecticut will reduce nonresident beach pass prices to $20 while locals will have to pay $40 this summer season
Beaches in Madison, Connecticut will reduce nonresident beach pass prices to $20 while locals will have to pay $40 this summer season

Good morning! With Memorial Day behind us, the unofficial start of summer is here!

Governor Ned Lamont kicked off the summer season at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. He expects a large increase in tourism in Connecticut this year after 17 million tourists visited the state last summer. To prepare for this influx, Lamont relaunched the ParkConneCT program to provide visitors with reliable public transportation within 10 minutes of state parks.

Beach parking passes in Madison are also cut in half for nonresidents due to a state grant. Local passes cost $40 while nonresident passes cost $20 per car. Locals are concerned this pass price reduction will crowd the beaches with tourists and make it difficult to find parking spaces. 

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing:

Travel through Connecticut spiked this Memorial Day weekend, resulting in dozens of impaired drivers and hundreds of car crashes. State Police recorded 36 people arrested for driving under the influence and 273 car crashes between Friday morning and Monday night. In total, the police responded to 5,880 calls for service, assisting 476 drivers.

Thousands of out-of-state drivers have avoided paying highway tolls to New York State’s Thruway Authority since 2019. According to an audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Authority lost a total of $276.3 million in unpaid tolls and fees from 2019-2023. Nearly $17 million was lost from vehicles registered in Connecticut. DiNapoli recommends the Authority improve its efforts to identify, bill and collect tolls that are due.

A proposal would create guidelines for removing trees along Connecticut highways. The bill is designed to ensure these state Department of Transportation projects have minimal environmental impacts. It was approved by the state Senate last week and is being considered by the House of Representatives.

A health advisory is in effect to limit the consumption of fish caught in the Peconic River. Toxic PFAS chemicals were found in yellow perch populations in the river. The state Department of Health warns Long Island residents to not consume yellow perch as much as possible or reduce consumption to one meal a month. For all other fish, residents should reduce their consumption to just four meals a month until the advisory is lifted.

The FBI established a tip line for Connecticut residents to report “street takeovers.” This is in response to several instances this month when crowds of people blocked, surrounded and attacked a police cruiserand an ambulance, causing thousands of dollars in damages. Residents can anonymously call 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit a written report.

New York is rolling out a $1 billion multi-year plan to overhaul the state’s mental health services. The plan will help New Yorkers whose experiences might have worsened due to isolation during the pandemic and failed to receive medical assistance. It will establish and operate 3,500 new mental illness residential units, create 50 new critical time intervention care coordination teams, open 150 new inpatient psychiatric beds and provide funding to address eating disorders among other operations.

Lamont is seeking a federal agriculture disaster declaration for all eight counties in Connecticut. Rare freezing temperatures earlier this month caused severe damage to dozens of crops including strawberries, blueberries, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears and apples. If the declaration is approved, state farmers will become eligible for federal disaster assistance programs including emergency loans to cover crop production losses.

Annual fire weather days have increased nationwide, according to a new wildfire weather report by Climate Central. The report studied how climate warming trends increased the risks of wildfire in forests and grassland landscapes. Chance wildfire appearances in coastal New York, including Long Island, increased annually to 10 days since 1973. Meanwhile, West Coast wildfire appearances have increased annually to two months since 1973.

FEMA awarded over $1 million to reimburse the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority. This fund will be used to improve New Haven’s regional water utility treatment plant against future storms. The plant was heavily damaged in 2020 by Tropical Storm Isaias.

Connecticut will use $10 million in federal funding to upgrade senior centers statewide. The state Department of Aging and Disability Servicesreceived the money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act on Tuesday. Nine-million dollars will be distributed to municipalities to cover facility and programming improvements, while $1 million will be used to support the department’s statewide senior center activities.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.