Sleeping Giant reopens after being closed for over a year

Luca Triant

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The hiking trails at Sleeping Giant State Park reopened on Friday, June 14, according to Governor Ned Lamont. The reopening marks the ending of the park’s over-a-year long closure.

“I am pleased that this restoration work has been completed and we are again able to open this popular state park to our residents and visitors,” Gov. Lamont said in a statement. “I look forward in the coming weeks to getting out onto the trails at Sleeping Giant and seeing the restoration work first hand. I want to thank all of the DEEP [Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] staff, contractors and most especially the Sleeping Giant Park Association and their volunteers whose generous work over these many months helped get us to this point.”

The park has been closed since May 15, 2018 after a tornado swept through the area, damaging the trails and knocking down many trees. Damage was severe according to officials.

“Because there were so many trees on the tower trail, we had to go up there with big machinery… before we could let people hike, because that’s the most popular trail,” Park Supervisor Jill Scheibenpflug said.

Scheibenpflug added that the work to clear the trails is done, but not everything is accessible to park goers.

“[Visitors should] mind the caution tape and stay off the grass,” Scheibenpflug said. “We don’t want people to trample over it.”

She said the bare areas in the fields are in the process of being hydroseeded in order to grow grass, but picnic tables and grills have not been reinstalled yet.

The park, which is located across the street from Quinnipiac University’s Mount Carmel campus, has provided students with recreation throughout the years. Many were upset with how long the park was closed for.

“It’s so convenient and a great place to go to get away from the stress of school,” Sophomore Dylan Kloiber said. “I was upset that it was closed for so long… I cannot wait to hike it more when I come back here next semester.”

Another student explained why they hiking the park’s trails.

“I was really bummed that I couldn’t hike,” Sophomore Garrett Levine said. “I love being so close to nature as it gives me a sense of peace.”

While the trails are open, cleanup continues as park officials are waiting for the grass to grow in the public areas before replacing picnic tables and grills. However, Gov. Lamont’s office stated that the cleanup cost is around $735,000 and 75 percent of that cost is predicted to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.