Jeffersonian dinner helps plot trail’s future

Kari Roberts, Betsy Fink, and Jennifer Dahl review the Wilton Center Loop section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail at a dinner earlier this month to raise awareness of and interest in the project.

Kari Roberts, Betsy Fink, and Jennifer Dahl review the Wilton Center Loop section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail at a dinner earlier this month to raise awareness of and interest in the project.27

The Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT) took a page from history to plot a path forward by holding a “Jeffersonian dinner” Oct. 5, at Millstone Farm. Jeffersonian dinners, as they are called, are a way to pull together people with a common interest for the purpose of furthering a goal. In this case, the focus of conversation was the Norwalk River Valley Trail, its importance to Wilton and implementation strategies.

“I have spoken to a number of people who are enthusiastic about the trail and had very good ideas on implementation,” said Greg Jansen, who organized the event. “The dinner sets forth the outline of how to bring these separate ideas together into one conversation; in this case to strategize making the trail reality.”

The dinner was hosted by Jesse and Betsy Fink at their Millstone Farm property. For the Finks, with their recent donation to jump start trail construction, hosting the dinner was just another means to help bring the trail forward.

“We liked the concept of hearing the perspective of people of varying backgrounds on a common topic,” Ms. Fink said. “The single conversation around the dinner table allows participants to explore and refine their individual thoughts and recommendations.”

The dinner format sets the number participating to 10 to 14 people. Joining the Finks at this first dinner were Chris and Catherine Stroup, Woodson and Tina Duncan, Jason and Jennifer Dahl, Greg and Gina Jansen, Kari Roberts, and Patricia Sesto, NRVT chairperson. The event was underwritten by Michael and Paula Lindberg.

Guests spoke of their experiences on similar trails across the country, citing Cape Cod, Park City, Utah and others. The ability to pursue unscripted, outdoor family activities was a commonly touted benefit. Likewise, the prospect of moving between businesses, schools, and destinations such as the Y without the need for a car was motivating.

Ms. Dahl raised yet another advantage. She described her vision for the trail and its ability to provide opportunities for adolescents to increase their independence.

“Our roads are too dangerous for kids to readily cycle to town, the schools, or a friend’s house” she said. “The trail will create safe connections between the east and west sides of Route 7 and Wilton Center for the kids to get places on their own.”

Several of the guests had already supported the trail with generous monetary donations. Following the catalytic donation from the Finks, donations from the Jansens, Ms. Roberts, Foster Fund, and an anonymous source were given. These donations are sufficient to break ground on a half-mile demonstration section of trail next month. Overall, $1.6 million is needed to construct the “loop.”

The Wilton Center Loop of the NRVT is an eight-mile segment of the overall 38-mile-long trail spanning the towns of Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding, and Danbury. The Friends of the NRVT is a 501(c)(3). Donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 174, Georgetown, CT 06829. Email [email protected] with any questions.

— from the Norwalk River

Valley Trail

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