Sherwood Island State Park
Sherwood Island State Park is a park on the shore of
Long Island Sound, in the Greens Farmssection of Westport, Connecticut.
It covers convert|234|acre|km2 of
beach, wetlandsand woodlands. People come to the park to enjoy various outdoor sports, study nature, fly kites or model airplanes, picnic, or just relax under the trees.The park is bounded on the west by the Sherwood Mill Pond, and on the south by the Sound, but it is separated from the mainland only by creeks and ditches. Access is by road: the Sherwood Island Connector that intersects with Interstate 95.
Before the park
In the 1640s, several colonists who came to be known as the "Bankside farmers" from the Town of Fairfield settled in the area that included Fox Island, administering the island in common. [http://www.friendsofsherwoodisland.org/Pages/History/H-GreensFarms.htm] Web page titled "Colonial Green's Farms" at the Friends of Sherwood Island Web site, accessed
November 18, 2007]
Daniel Sherwood, settled on Fox Island in 1787. During the 1800s, his large family farmed the uplands on the west side of the island and operated a gristmill on the Mill Pond. Many farmers shared the Machamux salt marsh. (See also
Henry Burr Sherwood). [ [http://www.friendsofsherwoodisland.org/Pages/History/H-history.htm] Web page titled "Park History" at the Friends of Sherwood Island Web site, accessed November 18, 2007] By the 1860s, the place was known as "Sherwood's Island". Gallup Gap Creek at one time ran north and south on the east side of the park but not far from the center. Some have said that what was known previously as Sherwood's Island was only west of that creek, which was later dammed up to help water flow at the grist mill. [ [http://www.friendsofsherwoodisland.org/Pages/History/H-creeks.htm] Web page titled "The Controversial Creeks" at the Friends of Sherwood Island State Park Web site, accessed November 18, 2007]
When the Connecticut State Park Commission was formed in 1911, one of its main tasks was to find and develop shore parks along Connecticut's coastline. Field secretary Albert Turner walked the shoreline seeking suitable sites: several hundred acres of undeveloped land with natural scenic beauty, fronting on a good beach, and far enough from cities to ensure freedom from sewage pollution and lack of interference with industrial development. He concluded that Sherwood Island was the only suitable site in Fairfield County. [http://www.friendsofsherwoodisland.org/Pages/History/H-acquisition.htm] Web page titled "The 23-year war" at the Friends of Sherwood Island State Park Web site]
At that time, the land had many owners. Acting for the state, Westport farmer and public citizen William H. Burr Jr., who led the fight to create the park, bought two small parcels in 1914, including a five-acre strip of beachfront,Connecticut Impressionist Art Trail sign at east end of pavilion at Sherwood Island State Park, read on
November 17, 2007] giving Sherwood Island its designation as Connecticut’s first state park, although it took another two decades for the park to be widely used. Various parcels bought by 1915 amounted to 24 acres by deed, although a state survey showed they in fact amounted to 30 acres. The park at this point had convert|23350|ft|m of shorefront.
In 1923 another 18 acres north of the island were acquired for possible use as a parking lot, although they were unconnected to the other 30 acres. Some access to the park at this time was available through the Town of Westport's Burying Hill Beach. At this point, further development of the park stalled when local landowners, led by local property owner Edward Gair, persuaded a town meeting to oppose further land acquisitions and spending on the park. The state legislature, reluctant to act without local approval, defeated a proposal from the State Parks Commission to spend $500,000 on further park development. Large beachfront properties were acquired by developers. For the next nine years, supporters and opponents in Westport and Fairfield County debated the matter. By 1932, the state leased more land in what became the park (with an option to buy within five years) and opened the park that summer.
April 29, 1937, with the lease and option to buy nearing expiration, Governor Wilbur L. Crosssigned two bills with a total appropriation of $485,000 for the state to buy more land and develop the park. This was a victory for Connecticut Forestry Association and the Fairfield County Planning Association, and supporters including William H. Burr, who came to be known as the father of the park.
In the 1950s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed jetties and extended the two beaches. The park's beaches are convert|6000|ft|m long, more than a mile.Connecticut Impressionist Art Trail sign at east end of pavilion at Sherwood Island State Park, read on
November 17, 2007]
Sherwood Island State Park was chosen for Connecticut's 9-11 Living memorial because on a clear day, the New York City skyline is visible from the point. On 9/11, people who gathered there saw smoke rise over the World Trade Center. Then, the Park served as a staging area for relief efforts to the City. At the dedication on
September 5, 2002, the names of 149 people who perished that day were read aloud. They were residents of the State or had close family in the State. Governor John G. Rowland presided over the interfaith ceremony of music, speech, and prayer. About 400 people came. The design incorporates the endurance of granite, the sheltering beauty of trees, and the tranquility of the sea. The convert|9|ft|m|sing=on polished granite stone monument reads, “The citizens of Connecticut dedicate this living memorial to the thousands of innocent lives lost on September 11, 2001and to the families who loved them.”
[http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=383810&depNav_GID=1650/ Connecticut's 9-11 Living Memorial.]
* [http://www.friendsofsherwoodisland.org/ Friends of Sherwood Island State Park]
* [http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325260&depNav_GID=1650/ Connecticut DEP Sherwood Island State Park page]
* [http://www.ct.gov/dep/site/default.asp/ Connecticut State Parks and Forests]
* [http://pages.cthome.net/rwinkler/sisp.htm Natural Assets of Sherwood Island State Park]
*Greens Farms Connecticut - the old West parish of Fairfield, George P Jennings, Modern Books & Crafts, Greens Farms, CT, 1933
*The William H. Burr Jr. Collection (B-112),Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield CT.
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