A $6,000 donation this month from the Mid-Fairfield County Board of Realtors to the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT) brings trail organizers that much closer to connecting the Wilton and Norwalk segments.
Work on portions of a two-mile section — from Wolfpit Road to Grist Mill Road — will begin this fall if the trail raises $136,000 by May 1. With the Realtors’ grant, the trail has raised $100,000 so far, said Charlie Taney, executive director of the NRVT.
The Friends of the NRVT must raise a 20% match of a $1.3-million grant from the state. A total of $132,000 must be raised by May 1, and an additional $132,000 must be raised by Sept. 1, for a total of $264,000.
“The [state] money is guaranteed,” Taney told The Bulletin. “We’ve gone to contract on the grant. That sequesters the money. It can’t be taken back. It is under contract and cannot be withdrawn as long as we reach the match.
“We must begin construction in the fall or we will lose the grant.”
The Wolfpit to Grist Mill section has been tagged WilWalk since it connects Wilton and Norwalk. Taney said construction would begin with a quarter-mile section from Wolfpit to an old quarry, and then from Grist Mill north to Kent Road. The route is along a state Department of Transportation’s Super 7 right of way and powerline corridor.
Construction of the 10-foot wide stone dust pathway will be the same as the Wilton Loop.
“The Wilton Loop is our showcase trail,” Taney said. The WilWalk section will also be wheelchair accessible, as is the Wilton Loop.
“The powerline corridor is quite wide, and along the Norwalk River for a lot of it,” Taney said. “The path will go through tall grass and brush. On the western side there’s a steep, forested slope.”
What won’t be built is a section of about three-fourths of a mile from the old quarry to Kent Road. Here are wetlands that must be traversed by a boardwalk — which is more expensive to construct — and even more of a challenge is a railroad crossing.
“It will take another year or 18 months to sort that out,” Taney said, adding the trail will cross the tracks where cars do, but a number of safety features will be required. A few easements are also yet to be nailed down.
Seeking corporate donations
The $6,000 given by the board of Realtors raises the total it has donated to the trail to $10,000. Elizabeth Boscaino of Halstead Property, and chairman of board’s Giving Back, has hosted five fund-raising events over the past three years that, along with the support of other board members, has made this donation possible.
“The NRVT is a tremendous asset to the community, providing families a safe place to hike, dog walk, bike and jog. We’re excited to see the next section built and we’re delighted to help,” said Peg Koellmer of Realty Seven.
She is not the only one who feels that way. Taney said he has had employees from two companies along the route reach out to him.
“They said they do laps in the parking lot at lunchtime and would love to see the NRVT expanded,” Taney said, adding they invited him to speak with their professional colleagues about the trail.
Whereas the Wilton Loop was built primarily with money from individual donors and philanthropic organizations in town, the Friends of NRVT is reaching out to corporate donors for the WilWalk portion.
“There are easily 60 companies of consequence in the immediate range of the WilWalk project,” he said.
Individuals and companies interested in contributing may do so through the trail’s website or by mail at P.O. Box 174, Georgetown, CT 06829. Questions should be directed to Taney at [email protected] or by calling 203-536-5618.