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News Published: Jun 6, 2008 - 4:06:53 PM

Greenway advocates commended today

By Governor Rell's office

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Governor M. Jodi Rell today commended 16 individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the promotion, development and enhancement of linear open space in Connecticut.

Greenways in Connecticut cover thousands of acres throughout every county in the state. There are over a thousand miles of trails in Connecticut used for active recreation including walking, biking, horseback riding and in-line skating. Many of these are supported by National Recreational Trails grants, funded each year by the Federal Highway Administration and awarded by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“Greenways are perfect places for families to get outside, enjoy nature, and exercise together, whether walking, biking or just being together in the fresh air,” Governor Rell said. “Through our new grant award program, even more greenways can be built and enhanced. The efforts of greenways advocates help us move forward on the path toward responsible growth. Together, we will preserve – forever preserve – the character and beauty of our state.”

Many other communities around Connecticut have chosen, through Greenway Designation, to recognize the importance of river corridors for natural resource protection, recreational opportunities and scenic values. Other types of greenways may include paved or unpaved trail systems, ridgelines or linked parcels of open space.

“Connecticut has made progress in expanding and improving our Greenways system and I am optimistic that we can keep moving forward on this,” said Bill O’Neill Chair, Greenways Council. “Programs like ‘No Child Left Inside,’ ‘Walk Connecticut’ and ‘Safe Routes to School,’ certainly demonstrate the growing public interest in getting back outdoors and making use of resources like Greenways. We all understand the state is facing difficult financial times, but continued investments in Greenways are important and these investments will pay a real return.”

Each year the Greenways Council selects individuals, organizations, and governmental entities that have made a significant contribution in Connecticut.

2008 Greenways Awards

Volunteers – Vernon Greenway: The Volunteers are individuals who assist the Vernon Parks and Recreation Department through the maintenance, enhancement and proper use of the 30+ miles of trails in Vernon, CT. Sponsors adopt a section of Vernon’s trail system or finance a trail project through an annual tax-deductible donation to supply the funds to support their work. Last year, they co-managed and contributed personnel for annual Earth Day cleanup of the trails. Developed the Pick Up After Your Pet Project Signage and on-site informational presence at several Vernon parks. Launched Web Page (www.vernongreenways.org) Prepared, installed and maintained Braille signs at Valley Falls Park. Designed and distributed free Rails to Trails Appreciation Map bandannas to trail users, for which they were recognized by WFSB TV. Numerous trail clean up and maintenance projects

Town –Watertown: The town has a long history of water resource protection. The Town worked with UConn’s NEMO project beginning in the 1990’s to utilize low impact development (LID) techniques in subdivisions as well as incorporating alternative storm water management techniques into their zoning regulations. Currently the Town is working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on developing a watershed based plan to protect the Steel Brook Watershed using a Section 319 NPS grant administered by DEP through the USEPA. The watershed based plan will address specific water quality impairments in Steel Brook, improving and protecting its water quality which in turn will enhance this center piece of their Greenway .

Planning – Stamford Planning Board: Under the direction of Director of Planning Robin Stein, Stamford’s Planning staff have been at the forefront of the City’s efforts to develop and maintain greenways in an increasingly urbanized setting. Both the Mianus River and Mill River Greenways have benefited from the planning, mapping and implementation of projects designed to protect these important corridors.

Non-profit – Central CT Bicycle Alliance: The CCBA’s mission is to promote bicycling and human powered transportation as environmentally friendly, healthy, and economical forms of transportation and recreation; to work to improve the bicycling environment and the quality of life in the Central Connecticut Region; and to educate motor vehicle operators and bicyclists about their respective rights and responsibilities. This year, the Alliance was a major force in the passage of a “Share the Road” bill in the General Assembly that reiterates the right of cyclists to use Connecticut’s roadways.

Transportation– Sandy Fry of Newington: For many years, Sandy Fry has been THE go-to person for bicycle and pedestrian transportation issues in the Capitol Region. As a planner for the Capitol Region Council of Governments, she recently coordinated the development of the Active Transportation Initiative, which imagines the possibilities that could result from taking the region’s bicycle and pedestrian plans to the next level. Sandy also lends her knowledge to the state Recreational Trails Advisory Committee and advises the CT Greenways Council as well. Finally, the success and growth of the Bike to Work program in the Capitol region is due in no small part to Sandy’s vision and enthusiasm.

Unsung Heroes – Franklin Bloomer of Greenwich: Franklin is one of the state’s most passionate cycling advocates. From his home in Fairfield County, he has participated in dozens of rides to raise the awareness of the need for bicycle-friendly facilities and transportation plans.

Karl Witalis was instrumental in the development of the Housatonic Rail Trail in Monroe. He actively scouted the existing rail right of way and identified gaps, which needed to be bridged. He sought out funding and other assistance and discovered a little- known program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), called the Timber Bridge program, which provides bridges to trails under construction in order to promote the use of wood products. Karl applied to USDA for a wooden bridge, and the application was approved and the needed bridge supplied, allowing the trail to proceed through the town of Monroe. He continues to be a tireless trail advocate, working with town officials to create extensions of the existing Housatonic Rail Trail north into Newtown and south into Trumbull through Silver Mine Park.

Advocacy – Steven Mitchell of Simsbury: Steven is a partner in the Mitchell Auto Group with multiple brand car dealerships in the Farmington Valley. He has been a life-long cyclist and in his early years he rode across the country. Quite a few years ago now, he was hit by a car while cycling and badly injured. Since that time he has been a tireless advocate for bicycling safety and multi-use trails. The Farmington Valley Trails Council has worked with him over the last 15 years on many projects, most notably the completion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail through Simsbury, which he supported along with the DEP, for many years and was a great asset in Simsbury at the grass-roots level. Most recently he has been named as an ambassador for the East Coast Greenway, and has been instrumental in the movement toward the planning for, and adoption of, town-wide citizen and political support for building the East Coast Greenway Spur in Tariffville (part of Simsbury) toward Bloomfield and into Hartford.

Education – Scott Trauner: Scott has nine years of experience as an English teacher at Hamden High School, where one of his goals as an educator has been to get young people more interested in the outdoors. For example, he taught a course he created called Literature of the Outdoors, an elective class in which students read nature and adventure writing. One unique project the students are working on is The Hiker's Guide to Hamden, a book they are writing and self-publishing this spring. In addition, he is the faculty advisor for the newly organized Green Dragon Conservation Club. This club gets the students involved in local environmental efforts, especially the recycling plan for this large building of more than 2,500 students and staff.

Government – Paul Kallmeyer: Paul, a retired Trumbull Engineer is the former Town Engineer for the Town of Trumbull. Paul was an early leader in the development of the Housatonic Rail Trail, also know as the Poquonnock Trail. Working with local elected officials and other interested parties, he pursued funding for construction of both the Monroe and Trumbull sections of the trail, and provided town staffing and expertise to the state DEP to ensure that the trail segment through the Poquonnock Valley State Park could be completed in a timely manner. Today there are proposed plans to extend the trail both south and north due to Paul’s efforts.

Health – Manchester Health Department: Recognizing the impact that trails can have on the health of their community, the Manchester Health Department used Block Grant money to create a brochure, Trail Mix – A Guide to Manchester’s Trails and Pathways, highlighting trails in the Manchester area in 2006 and Trail Mix II – Guide to Manchester’s Neighborhood Walks in 2007. These brochures are used to encourage physical activity among the town’s citizens.

Media - Dianne Wildman of Norwalk: Dianne, a writer/presenter of Cablevision Editorials for News 12 in Norwalk, has been a long-time advocate on behalf of bicycle/pedestrian and trail issues in Fairfield County. Through her editorials, she has promoted the environmentally-friendly alternatives to the car and most recently about the need for comprehensive bike-pedestrian planning in the state.

Outstanding inter-town cooperation – Bolton, Andover, Columbia, Coventry: The Hop River State Park Trail runs through all of these towns, but progress on development was slow and inconsistent. At a meeting with the DEP in 2005, town officials from each community decided to pool their personnel and equipment resources to clear and grade the trail in preparation for the final stone dust surface. In less than two weeks work had progress from Andover to Columbia, Bolton having already been completed. This unusual display of inter-municipal cooperation promoted the Windham Regional Council of Governments to write and receive a grant for trail equipment to share within the region.

New Officially Designated Greenways

Mill River Greenway, Stamford - Mill River Greenway is a planned 3-mile greenway segment connecting Salsa Park to Kosciusko and Southfield Parks on Long Island Sound. It is the first part of Stamford’s long-term vision to create a greenway along the entire Mill/Ropeway River from the Sound to the New York State line. It will help to restore the Mill River and its riparian habitat, improve water quality, and provide a recreation venue for walking, jogging and cycling in a natural environment through Stamford Downtown. It will reconnect wildlife corridors in the City and become the trunk connector of a new open space network. The larger greenway will eventually intersect with the East Coast Greenway and connect to publicly accessible water company lands along the river in North Stamford.

Stamford has been acquiring properties along the river for 15 years to control its banks and create the greenway and Mill River Park that is the 1-mile long 26-acre centerpiece of this downtown reach of the greenway. Stamford and the Army Corps of Engineers have completed design of the restoration of the river including the removal of the Mill Pond dam and walls, removal of an old dam at Pulaski Street, restoration of two saltwater marshes and remediation of invasive knotweed along the river’s banks. The City has hired a design team for the middle section and completed the master plan; design development and submission of permit applications to CT DEP.

Scantic River Watershed, Enfield - This year’s designation is an expansion of the 2002 designated Scantic River State Park greenway in Enfield to include the area around Mill Pond. The Scantic River has served as a recreational and educational area for many years. Countless residents of Enfield and the surrounding area have benefited greatly from the many activities that the Scantic River Watershed Association has worked tirelessly to make accessible to the community. The State DEP and the town of Enfield are in the process of updating the 1989 Scantic River State Park Master Plan that provides hiking trails, fishing access and historical interpretation. The greenway has the following characteristics:

· Protects natural resources, preserves scenic landscapes and historical resources.

· Connects existing protected areas and provides access to the outdoors.

· Is along side a waterway, a man-made canal system and dam(s) and traditional trail routes.

· Is a green space neighboring the Somersville village and historical sites.

Pope Park Greenway, Hartford – The greenway is a major component of the overall Pope Park Master Plan developed in 2000 to restore Pope Park. The greenway extends 1 mile through the Pope Park and is the connector between the Park River Greenway- South Branch Trail and the Capital Avenue bikeway providing 5 miles of continuous trail making health & fitness as well as woodland experiences available for city residents and visitors.

Greenways Grant Awards

Mianus River Watershed Council – $5,000

Greenwich and Stamford, Port Chester, Rye and Rye Brook, NY
The Mianus River provides a source of drinking water for over 100,000 people. Mianus River Greenway Additions - Inventory of lands that can expand the existing Mianus River Greenway will be shared with land protection organizations. Preservation alternatives information, and management practices will be sent to appropriate landowners.

Green Valley Institute (GVI) - $4,800

Ashford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Coventry, Eastford, Franklin, Griswold, Hampton, Killingly, Lebanon, Lisbon, Mansfield, Norwich, Plainfield, Pomfret, Preston, Putnam, Scotland, Sprague, Sterling, Thompson, Union, Voluntown, Windham and Woodstock
Green Valley Connections - To develop and design of a workbook which will assist municipalities and nonprofit groups with planning for greenways and working at a regional scale to create linkages.

Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, Inc. (associated with GVI) - $4,750

Green Valley Connections - Development of an interactive website and printing and distribution of project workbooks to municipal land use decision makers, land trusts, trail organizations and regional planning agencies.

Willimantic White Water Inc. - $5,000

Willimantic, Lebanon, Columbia
Willimantic River Greenway signage and website - Further develop/complete informational-educational brochure, Update/revise/complete Website, develop one large sign for the Kiosk at the Bridge Street property, Bridge Street Park Kiosk improvements, print small trail marker signs.

Scantic River Watershed Association - $5,000

Scantic River Greenway design, signage and maps from the Town of Somers to the Town of Enfield.

Colchester - $5,000

Sherman Brook Greenway & Trails - Develop a trail system on town open space that will connect with the high school and feature natural resource signage.

Central CT Regional Planning Agency - $5,000

Plainville, Southington, Farmington
Farmington Canal Greenway Plan for Southington - Development of the preferred and logical routing of this section of the Greenway through the northern part of Southington and all of Plainville.

Thompson - $4,750

Five Mile River Watershed - Inventory properties, water quality, biological, scenic and historic resources, GIS map, brochure.

Thomaston - $5,000

Naugatuck River Greenway Charrette - Create a Vision Map showing what townspeople would like to accomplish. The Vision Map will be posted on the town website and distributed town wide as a postcard to kick off fall trails events called Thomaston Walks!

Watertown - $5,000

Steel Brook Greenway - Develop a schematic plan, assess options to incorporate bicycle traffic, and a bridge crossing to provide access to French Street.

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