Volunteers and state officials are optimistic Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden will reopen this spring, but have yet to set a specific date. The news comes following months of cleanup work after a series of devastating storms last year.
Sleeping Giant has been closed since May. The area was torn apart by strong weather, including tornadoes touching down just outside the park’s border.
That weather uprooted trees, wiped out trails, and destroyed Sleeping Giant’s picnic area.
Julie Hulten, with the Sleeping Giant Park Association, said since then, volunteers have poured thousands of hours into cleaning the park up.
“They have taken care of 1,953 trees,” Hulten said. “Just for the month of January they’ve taken out 294 trees.”
The park has about 32 miles of trail. Hulten said for clean-up crews, that means it’s been slow going.
“They would work three hours and move maybe ten feet. Because of the complexity. Everything had fallen down on top of other things,” Hulten said.
To date, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it’s spent about $745,000 on cleanup efforts.
DEEP’s dollar figure is expected to go higher as work continues. Chris Collibee, a spokesperson for DEEP, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse 75% of what the state spends on cleanup.
State officials and Hulten said they’re hopeful the park will reopen this Spring, but no one is precisely sure when.
“They’re shooting for Memorial Day or shortly thereafter,” Hulten said. “But it really depends on other circumstances.”
Circumstances like weather. A recent ice storm knocked over more trees and there's more work that needs to be done on the park’s main “tower” trail.
Hulten said the only sure bet is that when Sleeping Giant does reopen, it will look a lot different.
“But the Giant will still be there, and we’ll welcome everybody back,” Hulten said.