Town closes Quarry Road access to Pequonnock River

Access to the Pequonnock River near Quarry Road has been closed until further notice after a large group of people used the area for an illegal cookout and swimming party Sunday. The party apparently broke up after a fight left a man with superficial cuts.

“There were a lot of people there from out of state causing a lot of noise and destruction at the site,” said Lt. Brian Weir. He said witnesses reported many cars with New York and New Jersey license plates parked at the Quarry Road entrance.

The initial report of a man being stabbed went to the Bridgeport police, but both Trumbull and Bridgeport officers responded. The area is on the border between the two communities. The partiers had dispersed when police arrived, Weir said.

Based on the refuse left at the site, the unauthorized party apparently included people cooking on grills and open fires and partiers jumping off the bridge into the water. Trash left at the area, including charcoal, dirty diapers and all manner of other refuse, was appalling, according to First Selectman Vicki Tesoro. On Monday Tesoro declared the river and the Quarry Road parking area off limits until further notice.

“People can still access the trail by walking or by bicycle, but the Quarry Road parking area is closed until we can get barriers in place to prevent what we saw Sunday,” she said. “We’ve been monitoring activity in the area for the past year, and I don’t take closing access to a recreation area lightly, but this was unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Richard Moore, a member of the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission, visited the site Monday morning and came away disgusted. His photos of the scene generated thousands of views on social media.

“It looked like a parody of what you would expect to see the morning after a fraternity party,” he said. “The pictures don’t even do justice to how bad it was.”

Moore said the commission has regular discussions about people illegally partying in the area, but the conversations never really lead anywhere.

“We talk about it, and then September comes and it gets colder, and the problem just sort of goes away,” he said. “But Sunday was the worst ever.”

Part of the problem, Moore said, is that park rangers who patrol the area have limited authority to enforce town ordinances.

“They can’t write infractions, and they’re not trained in crowd control,” Moore said. “They function as the eyes and ears for the police but when they call in a violation [for noise or a large gathering of people] it’s not really the highest priority.”

Trumbull resident Rich Rosen, president of the Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited, lamented the loss of access for local anglers.

“It’s a shame that people are inconsiderate and everybody suffers and we lose a great resource for fishing and relaxing,” Rosen said.

The Nutmeg Chapter has conducted several cleanups of the area, most recently on April 27.

Tesoro issued a statement on the matter Monday evening. The statement read:

“Due to the misuse of the area around the Pequonnock River on Quarry Road, the area will be closed until further notice. However, walking and bicycling will be permitted, but are limited to the Pequonnock River Trail only. No vehicular traffic will be permitted in the area, and there will be no parking on Quarry Road or the area around the river. Signs will be posted notifying the public of the closure and the parking ban.

Excessive activity on the banks of the river has resulted in significant erosion of the riverbanks. In addition, large amounts of garbage have been found in the river and in the surrounding area. Swimming is never permitted in the Pequonnock River, and use of the waterway is strictly prohibited.

Prior to this weekend, the Trumbull Parks and Recreation and Police Departments had already significantly increased their presence in the area. Beginning immediately, a police officer will be stationed on Quarry Road.

Use of this area has gone beyond what the area is designed for, and the closure will give Town officials adequate time to create a design for the area that provides protection to the environment and makes the area safe for the public to enjoy. As always, the Town’s first and foremost priority is the safety of all who live or visit here.”