Completion of River Road 'pocket park' scheduled for the fall

The construction of a “pocket park” across the street from the 5 River Road plaza should be fully complete in the fall, according to Suzanne Knutson, landscape designer and vice president of the Wilton Garden Club, who is assisting with the park’s landscape design.

Knutson said the idea of the project, which is being spearheaded by Environmental Affairs Director Mike Conklin, is to create “a very small park tucked into a location that promotes community interaction.”

The park’s central location makes it an ideal spot for people to meet up with one another and “interact with the Norwalk River,” said Knutson. “Dog walkers will love it; people with young children will love it.”

The park will include two stone or concrete picnic tables with attached benches.

“Wilton has a lot of parks that are great for people who enjoy nature, solitude and walking on their own, but we don’t have a lot of multi-purpose parks in town,” said Knutson. “This park is one way of addressing that. As limited as it is, it helps.”

Knutson said the plan is to “open up the space, take out all the scrub trees and vegetation that have become a tangle of invasive plants, then go back in and seed it with grass and put in trees and shrubs to make it more of a park-like setting.”

The park’s landscape design includes a “sweep of river birch trees,” a sycamore tree, a weeping willow across the river, three white flowering dogwood trees, and some red-twigged dogwood shrubs.

“We’ve got this beautiful space by the beautiful river,” said Knutson, “but dense vegetation has made it hard for people to actually see the river.”

To address this problem, Knutson said, thickets of plants will be cleared out to make “windows” along River Road that allow people to see the river and Schenck’s Island.

“Right now, when you drive along River Road, you’re not even aware that there’s a river [and] very pretty meadows at Schenck’s Island,” said Knutson.

The “windows” are sort of an experiment to see if the invasive plants can be kept at bay by planting grass seed, plant sedges near the river, and lower-growing native shrubs, which, Knutson said, should “remove some of the invasive plants.”

Knutson said one of the “windows” will be around the Norwalk River footbridge.

“The bridge was pretty creepy,” said Knutson. “The invasive plants grew up right to the edge of the bridge and it wasn’t at all inviting to use the bridge.”

Project schedule

Knutson said the completion of the “pretty, serene park in the center of town,” is going to take a while.

“We originally planned to plant the pocket park this week, but it unfortunately rained for a week-and-a-half leading up to Mother’s Day and that pushed our schedule back,” she said on Monday.

“Right now, we don’t have irrigation and it’s getting a little late to plant, so now we’re going to have to hold off and plant the trees and shrubs in the fall.”

Although the planting of the trees and shrubs will have to wait, said Knutson, “we’re still planning on seeding to get the grass down.”

The park will also have two stone or concrete picnic tables with attached benches, said Knutson, and the “stone pads” on which the tables will sit will be put in shortly.

Knutson said some sort of play set may possibly be installed in the future, but that would depend on available space and funding.