Save the date! We are planning a party for Saturday April 26th to mark the opening of our Demonstration Trail. It will be full of fun activities to acquaint attendees, young and older, with all the NRVT offers to Wilton and the region. The event will be open-house style, with events taking place during the course of the morning. As we finalize our plans, we will keep you posted!
National Trails Day and CT Trails Day Weekend are June 7-8: The NRVT will lead a hike from Broad Street in Norwalk up to iPark at the Norwalk-Wilton line on June 8th. The 2.5 mile, easy hike will start at 10 a.m. at Broad Street, and may include an option to hike on to Wolfpit Road in Wilton. Read more about this section of trail under Blazing Trail - Norwalk.
The Steering Committee welcomes new member Kristin Johnson. Kristin has a strong background in marketing, especially social media. In this online age, we know we have to work hard to make the most of the new communication tools. We are grateful to have Kristin's expertise and help.
Spreading awareness of the trail is an ongoing endeavor. We have recently made presentations to PTAs, realtor associations, Wilton's Rotary Club, and the Wilton Go Green annual meeting. If your organization would like to know more about the NRVT, please reach out to info@NRVT-Trails.org. We will gladly fit you in.
Finally, the more the NRVT connects to other trails, the greater the adventures it will offer. We've mentioned the Ridgefield Rail Trail in this newsletter, but keep in mind the Merritt Parkway Trail too, a proposed route within the Merritt Parkway corridor for non-motorized users. If you like the idea, go tell the ConnDOT public meeting - Monday March 10, Westport Town Hall, 7pm.
The NRVT Demonstration Trail
Following a well-attended groundbreaking ceremony in November (see articles in The Hour / Wilton Villager and Good Morning Wilton), we began construction of our demonstration trail -the first trail built under the NRVT name, and the first new section in several years.
The demo trail is intended for the residents of all five NRVT communities to get a feel of what the full-length trail will be like. It runs 0.5 miles from near Wilton's Orem's Diner up to Raymond Lane, crafted by Timber & Stone LLC to fit the land's natural contours and features. Our thanks again for the generous donations that made this start possible, and those we have received since that will keep us moving forward.
The roller coaster winter weather has presented Timber & Stone with significant challenges, but progress has still been substantial. The trail route has been cleared and excavated all the way, and surfaced for most of its length. Due to the extreme freeze-thaw conditions, work on surfacing and resurfacing is suspended until more moderate conditions set in. But this has allowed progress on the boardwalk! The 160-foot, black locust structure bridges fragile wetlands, and is now nearly complete (see article about the boardwalk's construction in The Daily Voice).
The demo trail boardwalk under construction. Photo by Rob McWilliams
So what comes after the opening party? The demo trail is also the first section of the east-side Wilton Loop. Read Blazing Trail - Wilton below for our ambitious next step.
Blazing Trail - Norwalk: Big hopes for 2014
The coming year is shaping up to be an exciting one for the NRVT in Norwalk too, with progress expected on two critical stretches of trail:
The "Missing Link": A timetable has now been set to connect the existing sections of the NRVT in Norwalk by filling the gap between the Maritime Aquarium - Union Park trail and the New Canaan Avenue - Broad Street segment. This "missing link" was the focus of a volunteer clean-up and Trails Day hike last spring. When complete, bikers and walkers will be able to make the nearly five-mile round trip from the Maritime Aquarium to Deering Pond (located on the Norwalk River, just north of Broad Street) on paved, 10-foot-wide trail. The City of Norwalk plans to release an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) this summer for a consultant to guide the project. The preliminary schedule calls for final planning in 2015 and construction in 2016.
The "Missing Link". Photo by David Park
Deering Pond to Wilton: The second project focuses on taking the trail from Deering Pond to the Wilton line, and then on to meet the demonstration trail currently under construction at Wilton's Wolfpit Road. This spring the NRVT expects to be awarded a Recreational Trails grant from the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection to fund the construction documents and cost estimates of this section. Fundraising for construction could then begin.
To ensure the NRVT is in sync with the new city administration, former committee member Deborah Lewis organized a meeting with new mayor Harry Rilling. Mayor Rilling made a number of statements during his campaign supporting efforts to make Norwalk more walkable and bikable. Deborah - along with NRVT Chairwoman Sesto, Norwalk implementation team leader Jim Carter, and Director of Public Works Hal Alvord - had a positive meeting with the Mayor. We are optimistic he will support the NRVT. Thank you Deborah - we knew the NRVT was still in your heart!
Blazing Trail - Wilton: East-side Loop
Wilton, of course, has been focused on the demo trail, which the town is hosting. There was the groundbreaking ceremony on a rainy day in November. Since then, we have been busy helping the local media report on progress. And the demo trail is also the first section of the east-side Wilton Loop. In 2014, we plan to extend the Loop up to Pimpewaug Road. That means fundraising in the community to raise the estimated $1.2m still needed for the project:
People interested in contributing to the construction of the NRVT Wilton Center Loop, or the overall project, can send a tax-deductible contribution to "The Friends of the NRVT" P.O. Box 174, Georgetown, CT 06829. Questions can be directed to Patricia Sesto, 203-563-0180 or email@example.com.
Blazing Trail - Ridgefield: Advice from the pros
The hilly and rocky Laurel Lane open space continues to hold the key to connecting Redding, Ridgefield and Danbury on the NRVT. The terrain is a challenge for building the broad, multi-use trail that is the NRVT vision. Last autumn a possible route was explored and flagged by volunteers. The various options will now be reviewed on the ground by Timber & Stone, the trail construction experts building our demo trail in Wilton.
NRVT hiking in Ridgefield / Redding. Photo by David Park
NRVT members have also paired up with Ridgefield's Leading Initiatives for New Connections (LINC) to lift the bicycle restriction from the Ridgefield Rail Trail. The Rail Trail is seen as a vital NRVT "spur", connecting walkers and bikers on our trail with Ridgefield Center's restaurants and shops. Meetings with neighbors have been held and efforts to reach stakeholders will continue. A proposal will be reviewed by Ridgefield Board of Selectmen on March 19th. While "it ain't over 'til it's over," we are cautiously optimistic since First Selectman, Rudy Marconi has publicly stated his priority to see this change go through. We will keep our fingers crossed!
Blazing Trail - Redding: Meeting the new First Selectwoman
Regional Steering Committee members, David Pattee and Stuart Green, had the pleasure of introducing NRVT Chairwoman, Pat Sesto, to Redding's newly-elected First Selectwoman, Julia Pemberton. Julia was presented with a bit of light reading - both the full and executive summary of the NRVT Routing Study!
Julia agreed that a public hike of the proposed route through Redding would provide a great opportunity to reach out to residents and neighbors again. But only when the weather warms up! The NRVT in Redding will likely follow DOT land from Fire Hill Road to Picketts Ridge Road, and then cut west in the vicinity of Olmstead Road to meet the Ridgefield and Danbury sections. Plans are being made to survey the route terrain with NRVT demo trail builder Timber & Stone.
Blazing Trail - Danbury: Joining the dots
Last fall, at Mayor Boughton's request, Kozuchowski Environmental Consulting reviewed NRVT routing options through town, and endorsed a recommendation that would see the trail join with the existing Ives hiking trail for much of its course; and use Starr's Plain Road - with safety features - at the southwest end of town. The Danbury team must now await the firming-up of the Redding-Ridgefield route before advancing or modifying this recommendation, and is coordinating with its southern neighbors to help fix the trail's entry point into town.