State Rep. Seeks Resolution to Crumbling Park
Conn. State Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-34th District, has filed legislation that she hopes will finally bring to the state’s attention her concerns about the former Sunrise Resort in Moodus.
Ziobron’s legislation, House Bill 5261, simply states that it seeks “to require the development of a plan for the use of the Sunrise State Park.” Ziobron on Monday (Jan. 14) said that while the legislation may have no expenditures attached, or much teeth at all, she’s hoping it will elevate the issue of the former resort’s status among state lawmakers, according to the East Hampton Portland Patch.
Once a thriving tourist attraction amid several resorts that used to flourish in Moodus, the 146-acre Sunrise property, now owned by the state, has sat vacant for years.
Ziobron said she and many of her constituents in the region are frustrated by the state’s lack of impetus in getting the property redeveloped and back on the tax rolls.
In fact, Ziobron said the current state of the park is disgraceful and that her frustration is turning to anger. Getting the state to take action on the site, she said, will be a focus of her first term in the legislature.
Last year the state sought development proposals for the land and two firms submitted plans, including a nonprofit group that wanted to build a campground and cultural arts center there.
The state, however, rejected both of the proposals. Meanwhile, the once beautifully-manicured property continues to deteriorate.
The buildings and recreational areas that once held wedding receptions, company picnics, family reunions, school trips and overnight guests still stand, but only as haunting images of what they once were.
Cabins and hotel-style rooms have been vandalized. Broken dishes litter the floors. Beds, mattresses and bureaus remain. Paddle boats and other equipment were left behind. Perhaps the best example, however, is in one dining area, where the condiment station remains stocked.
The resort began in 1916 as Elm Camp when Henry Engle completed the Main Bungalow by installing electric lights, telephone and a water system. In 1986, the Robert Johnson family took ownership and managed it until 2008. The state of Connecticut purchased the 143-acre property in January 2009 for $3.2 million.
Sunrise State Park, previously known as the Sunrise Resort property, consists of 146 acres located in the west-north-west corner of East Haddam. The park, in the Moodus section of town, shares common boundary lines with the 300-acre Machimoodus State Park to the southeast and Salmon River to the west. The state park benefits from 4,700-plus feet of frontage on the Salmon River. The main entrance to the property is from State Route 151 which abuts it to the northeast.