Norwalk River Valley Trail hosts groundbreaking

Norwalk River Valley Trail — Kendra Baker photo

Norwalk River Valley Trail — Kendra Baker photo

Donors, town officials and members of the public are all invited to a groundbreaking Saturday, June 27, of a new section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail’s “Wilton Loop.” It will be extended from Sharp Hill Road to near Twin Oak Lane over the course of this year’s building season.

Those planning to attend the groundbreaking will meet at 10 a.m. in the commuter Park and Ride north of Orem’s Diner on Route 7.

Participants will then get a chance to see what the finished project will look like as they walk together from the commuter lot to the ceremony site along the  1.1 miles that is already completed.

“For those who can,” reads the announcement on NRVT’s website, “the groundbreaking will be followed by a Work Day to help our trail-builder Timber & Stone LLC get off to a flying start on the new sections.”

Volunteers should bring work gloves. Small handsaws, leaf rakes, loppers and pole saws are desirable and welcomed, though not required.

The new section

In addition to the new half-mile of trail, a 500-foot section will be built along the south side of Horseshoe Pond, effectively connecting the east end of the loop to its western counterpart.

This year’s portion of the Norwalk River Valley Trail project is privately funded and presents no cost to the town.

Key donors include Dorel Sports, the parent company of  bicycle brands Cannondale and Schwinn, which recently made a contribution of $25,000.

First selectman on NRVT

At the Board of Selectmen meeting June 15, First Selectman Bill Brennan seemed impressed with the progress of the Norwalk River Valley Trail project, which “aims to build 38 miles of multi-purpose trail connecting Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Conn., and Rogers Park in Danbury, passing through Wilton, Ridgefield, and Redding on the way,” according to the project website.

“When you start any kind of project,” began Brennan, “it takes the first step to get going. I’m just amazed at how much progress has been made because of you [Patricia Sesto, NRVT chair] and Mike ]Michael Lindberg, committee member] and the whole committee that has worked on this. When you consider land use, easements and all the legal issues that are involved in this design, in four years you’ve done an enormous amount, and finished sections of the trail.”

Future plans

If it can raise the funds, NRVT plans to build past Twin Oak Lane up to Skunk Lane before the end of 2015. An additional $250,000 is needed.

According to an estimate given at the June 15 selectmen’s meeting by previous Wilton Environmental Affairs Director and current NRVT Chair Patricia Sesto, the southern portion of the Wilton Loop will be completed within five years.

Completion of the northern portion will depend on further fund raising.

About NRVT

The mission of the NRVT is to provide “convenient and safe pedestrian and bicycle travel between rail stations and local businesses, schools, town shopping areas, and parks,” as quoted from the NRVT Facebook page.

In addition to offering an alternative means of travel, the trail is intended as a scenic route with recreational potential for the five towns it unites.

As for the committee, Selectman Deborah McFadden offered her comments in an email to The Bulletin.

“The committee has worked on a variety of complex tasks including trail blazing, public relations, and fund raising. Their combined efforts have resulted in trails that provide a safe place for hiking and biking. Wilton is fortunate to have so many big-hearted citizens and businesses that have given to the NRVT. The groundbreaking for the next phase would not have happened without their generosity.”

McFadden also commented on the nature of NRVT’s chairwoman, holding her in high regard.

“Pat Sesto has been an extraordinary leader of the NRVT. We are fortunate she has agreed to continue to lead the NRVT after her departure from the Town of Wilton.”

“The trail is becoming a reality in Wilton section by section,” added McFadden.

Information: Nrvt-trail.com, facebook.com/norwalkrivervalleytrail

Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to The Friends of the NRVT, P.O. Box 174, Georgetown, CT 06829, or made via the Donate button on NRVT’s website.

Other contributors to the project include Claude and Jennifer Amadeo, the Bauer Foundation, John and Doon Foster, Clifford and Norma Fox, Greg and Gina Jansen, James and Lisa Lillie, Next Step Living, the Oaklawn Foundation, Patagonia, Steve and Betsy Pettit, the Robertson Family Foundation, Aaron and Alexa Schlechter, Chris and Catherine Stroup, the Wescustogo Foundation and Wilton Go Green for their donations.

The rain date for the groundbreaking is Sunday, June 28.

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