Squantz Pond State Park is a public recreation area located 10 miles (16 km) north of Danbury in the town of New Fairfield, Connecticut. The state park encompasses 172 acres (70 ha) on the southwestern shore of 270-acre (110 ha) Squantz Pond, offering opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking. The park is bordered on the west by Pootatuck State Forest and is managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
- Safety concerns, drownings
From 1996, when the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection began keeping records on drownings at Connecticut state parks, through 2011, fifteen people drowned at Squantz Pond State Park.
In July 2007, DEP officials made “the Rocks” off limits to beachgoers. In response to the drownings and pressure from local officials, the state announced plans to reduce the parking capacity of the park from about 500 cars to about 250, and to post signs on nearby Interstate 84 announcing if the park has reached capacity. Officials said the reduced capacity would help DEP prevent swimming outside of authorized areas.
On Labor Day 2007, an 18-year-old man from Queens, N.Y., became the third drowning victim of 2007 at about 1 p.m. at East Beach, an area that was not protected by lifeguards because the state DEP believed the drowning danger to be lower than other sections of the park.
In June 2008, DEP unveiled several improvements to the park designed to improve the safety of swimmers. The designated beach swimming area was enlarged and clearly marked to make it more attractive to swimmers, trees were removed to improve the sight lines of on-duty lifeguards, and a dock was installed for a patrol boat.
The other Squantz Pond victims drowned in the areas known as “the Rocks” and the unroped section of “Squantz Cove” that are outside the designated swimming area. These areas also were not protected by lifeguards.