With fishing season less than a month away, the Trumbull Parks and Recreation Department felt the pressure from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection this week to do away with an annual parking fee established last summer that would cost non-residents $112.
Fortunately, the problem was resolved at a meeting Monday night when the town agreed to return to its previous regulation, which allows non-residents parking access at Trumbull’s parks through a state fishing permit.
“We changed the parking fees last summer without realizing the impact it would have on fishing,” said Stuart McCarthy, director of the Parks and Recreation Department Tuesday, March 15. “Last night we voted to go back to the policy we had adopted and had in place before last year, so the issue has been resolved and now we’ll get the fishing stock on time.”
The decision satisfied Pete Aarrestad, who works as the director of DEEP’s Inland Fisheries Division in Hartford.
He confirmed Tuesday that the Pequonnock River would receive its normal number of trout next month.
“This is great news, and the result is that we will be able to stock,” he said.
On Friday, March 11, Aarrestad told The Times that Trumbull was in jeopardy of losing its trout stock based on the parking fee structure.
“If the town insists on enforcing this year-round, including in the spring when the bulk of trout fishing occurs, we will not be able to stock large segments of the Pequonnock River with trout since we need reasonable public access to be provided,” he explained.
He noted that Trumbull’s situation wasn’t unique and that McCarthy was “very sympathetic” to DEEP’s public access issue.
“He realizes that we’re serious — we can’t stock trout for just the citizens of Trumbull,” Aarrestad said March 11. “We’ve run into situations like these in the past, and in most cases, the result is the town waives the entry fee if people are parking to go fishing.”
McCarthy and the rest of the Parks and Recreation Commission obliged the state’s request Monday without much delay.
“The town has done a tremendous job of maintaining its open space,” Aarrestad said last week, speaking with optimism before the decision was finalized.
“It’s an excellent resource for residents who like to run, walk or fish, and I applaud the town for getting the public to go near the water,” he said. “But they can’t impose an annual fee that basically says out-of-towners aren’t welcome — that’s why we’re getting nervous.
“Trout stock season is coming up soon, and we just want them to take care of it before then.”