2013 Winter Newsletter - Norwalk River Valley Trail

2013 Winter Newsletter

It's been another busy period for the NRVT. The Routing Study is complete and rolled out to the communities along the trail.  Now, we're focusing on the trail's implementation.  Several sections of trail currently exist in Norwalk and Wilton and form the foundation for our early implementation work based on the Routing Study recommendations.  Currently, the Wilton Implementation Committee is working on a so-called 'Eastern Loop', that will take it along the east side of Route 7.  Two neighborhood meetings were recently held to hear from residents whose properties back up to the Eastern Loop.  The NRVT has engaged Vermont's Timber & Stone, LLC to lay out the trail and hopefully have sections of it complete by this summer.  In the meantime, look for announcements of trail walks in all 5 towns along the route as the snow melts!

And, of course, our gratitude continues for support from various sources. Lately, Patagonia and the National Park Service have generously offered their support.  See details in the articles below.


Finally, look for more information on National Trails Weekend coming up in June.  The NRVT will participate in this to be sure.


The Norwalk River Valley Trail Steering Committee


Patagonia Awards Grant to NRVT


The Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT) initiative is pleased to announce that Monica Keady, an employee at Patagonia's Westport store, has been awarded an internship grant through Patagonia's environmental internship program.

In addition to donating over $4 million in grants to grassroots organizations in the last fiscal year, Patagonia sponsored over 4,800 hours of volunteer environmental service from headquarters and retail employees.


Monica will provide administrative support for NRVT assisting in a variety of projects. She first learned of NRVT through a Patagonia grant awarded to the group in 2011. Through email updates, Monica "kept tabs on NRVT's progress and was delighted to learn of the completion of the final routing study." When additional funds were made available for internships, she jumped at the opportunity to apply hoping to work with NRVT at this critical juncture.


Monica looks forward to being "involved in website updates, social media, fundraising and volunteer coordination." NRVT is delighted that Monica will be working with us and we're grateful for Patagonia's support of the project.


The NRVT initiative seeks to connect thirty-eight scenic miles, from the Long Island Sound along the Norwalk River valley to the rolling hills of Danbury.   The proposed trail will provide a route for cyclists, hikers, and walkers and connect to rail stations, schools and offices, offering clean, green transportation as well as recreational opportunities.

National Park Service Technical Assistance


After 18 months of work by Alta Planning + Design, we have a proposed route for the NRVT - which we recently celebrated with community rollouts in Wilton (for Wilton, Redding and Ridgefield residents) and Norwalk.  While a completed trail is still years away, we are anxious to get started!


Once again, the NRVT applied for and received technical assistance from the National Park Service's "Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance" program, affording us yet again the skills and experience of John Monroe to help us prioritize and create implementation strategies for the routing plan.  Implementing a project of this size over the boundaries of five municipalities can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to begin.  John will help the NRVT Steering Committee set up an implementation plan, determine how to maximize exposure to engage the public, and identify and tap into various funding and professional service resources.


Moving from study to implementation mode is a critical juncture in the life of a multi-modal trail and we are grateful to have John's extensive trail building experience to bring us along.

Call for Volunteers


As we move forward with the implementation phase of our project we could certainly use some more hands on board.  Specifically we need someone to oversee the different pieces of our outreach efforts.  


We have people in place to do our newsletter, twitter, etc. but it would be most helpful to have someone to coordinate their efforts. This person would not be doing the actual outreach, but would try to ensure that we use our outreach people in the most efficient way.  


Also, as each town moves forward we will need volunteers in the individual towns for the town committee to assist with work at the local level. This could actually involve clearing, blazing, fund raising, etc.   


Contacts are:

Norwalk             Jim Carter           jhCinCT@aol.com

Wilton                Jim Snedeker     Jamespsnedeker@yahoo.com

Redding             Stuart Green      shgreen@optonline.net

Ridgefield          TBA                    info@nrvt.com

Danbury             Kathy Miville      kmiville@snet.net


Finally if you have an interest in being on the steering committee, which oversees work across the five towns contact Patricia Sesto at Patricia.Sesto@wiltonct.org


In a specific project, Jim Carter is looking for about 20 volunteers to help clear a section of trail near the Maritime Center on May 4. The trail blazing effort is along Riverside Avenue and the Norwalk River south of New Canaan Avenue. The existing trail stops at Norwalk's Union Park and this section is north of there and will connect with another existing section of trail between New Canaan Avenue, north to Broad Street Norwalk's prime effort is to complete construction of this section between Union Park and New Canaan Avenue.  For more information, contact Jim at the email above. 

Sharing Information in a Social Setting 


NRVT's Mark Robbins was one of six presenters at the February gathering of Green Drinks at the Shake Hometown Grill in Fairfield for those working to make Fairfield County - and all of Connecticut - more bikeable and walkable. Also represented were Bike Walk Connecticut, Fairfield Bike Walk Coalition, Live Green Connecticut, Merritt Parkway Trail and Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club.


If you would like to have a speaker to talk about the trail to your company or organization, contact info@nrvt.com.

Fundraising Efforts Underway


With the recent completion of the NRVT Routing Study, we have launched a series of fundraising activities across all five communities. Our approach is to pursue funding through a combination of state and federal grants complemented by donations from local businesses, foundations and individuals.


Given the budget challenges at the federal, state and local levels, we will strive to obtain a third of our funding from those sources. Financial support from corporations, foundations and individuals will be key to building the trail in each of the five communities. If you or your employer are interested in supporting this legacy for future generations and would like to schedule a meeting to discuss potential financial support, please contact our team by e-mail at fundraising@nrvt-trail.com.


You can also make a direct tax-deductible contribution through our website www.nrvt-trail.com or mail your contribution to Friends of the Norwalk River Valley Trail, Inc., PO Box 174 Georgetown CT 06829.

Friends of the NRVT, Inc. is an approved 501(c)(3) corporation. We are an all-volunteer entity, which enables all contributions to go directly to the construction, maintenance and promotion of the project.

Merritt Parkway Trail update: February, 2013


Much hay was made of the 2011 Scenic Byways grant award received by ConnDOT to study the feasibility of the trail from Greenwich to Stratford. And the study received a good deal of attention last year as the DOT conducted a series of workshops in towns along the corridor, as well as walking through much of the corridor to put eyes on some of the topographic challenges that this project faces.


It's been a quieter time lately on this topic, as the DOT has returned to their Newington offices to analyze their findings and prepare for meetings that should start in late spring or early summer to present their findings and get more feedback. But there is still much to share.


You've likely heard the rumors about how the original design of the Merritt Parkway included a bridle path running from end to end, but that this element of the design was eliminated prior to construction. But did you know that a bridle path was developed anyway? Shorter stretches of bridle path were linked with logging trails, informal footpaths, and old woods roads to create a 37-mile bridle path which was, apparently, well-used year-round in the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1946, the State of Connecticut Merritt Parkway Commission, in its 1946 booklet, "Rules and Regulations Governing the Use of the Merritt Parkway", codified the use of these trails by clearly stating "Rule 11: Equestrians are permitted on the bridle paths of the Merritt Parkway."


Recent weather has also given many people dreams of tranquil cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. This will truly be a 12-month trail: whether paved or unpaved, the Merritt Parkway Trail will be a wonderful recreational resource in winter as well as the warmer months. We hope that you will stand with us as we continue to advocate for development of what will be Fairfield County's premier recreational and active-transportation resource. To learn more about the Merritt Parkway Trail, please visit the website [http://www.merrittparkwaytrail.org/] and subscribe to the newsletter, or visit the trail's Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/merrittparkwaytrailalliance ]and "like" it so that you can get updates. Thanks - and see you on the trail!

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