Just north of Sharp Hill Road, a Norwalk River Valley Trail volunteer recently began clearing a five-foot path through the woods to show where the next half-mile section of trail would lead.
The new portion of the trail could be finished as early as August, Wilton’s environmental director, Patricia Sesto, said Monday, if the organization in charge of the trail is able to raise $150,000 quickly.
“We need to get some donations in short order to have a reasonable expectation of closing the gap,” she said. “We’re looking to do a half-mile, and as far as different sections go, this is a cheap section. The topography is easygoing, so there are no boardwalks.”
A section of the trail with boardwalks costs $400 per linear foot, compared to $100 per foot for a simple crushed-stone path like this one.
“It will go as far as where Twin Oak Lane dead-ends at the state right-of-way,” Ms. Sesto said.
The Friends of the Norwalk River Valley Trail have largely relied on private donations to build parts of the trail in Wilton and Ridgefield, Ms. Sesto said.
On the other hand, Norwalk has had an easier time getting grants and municipal funds to help build the trail.
“If there was enough swell in the taxpaying public saying, ‘We’re good to pay for this through our taxes,’ that would be something,” that may spur Wilton and Ridgefield’s town governments to budget for the trail, Ms. Sesto said.
“I’ve been at meetings where people would say, ‘Why are we putting up money for the Keiser property?’” a large piece of open space in Cannondale the town bought an easement for, “but the town won’t put up money for the trail to get done. However, there needs to be a community decision on how they want to participate,” Ms. Sesto said.
This piece of construction north of Sharp Hill Road, paired with another 500 feet that needs to be completed at the bottom of Horseshoe Pond, would mark the completion of the “Wilton Loop” of the trail.
In total, organizers hope to extend the overall NRVT from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk to Rogers Park in Danbury.
The crushed-stone path used to build the whole trail is expected to “have a good, long life,” Ms. Sesto said, though maintaining a trail is not like maintaining a road.
“Its not like paving, because here, you deal with small things on an ongoing basis,” rather than doing a wholesale repaving effort, Ms. Sesto said.
“For several years we will be basically maintenance-free, but as the stone wears down you have to address specific places where there are problems.”
The only residents who have reported any dissatisfaction with the trail were some who live on Autumn Ridge, where many people park their cars to access the trails.
“The neighbors have been really patient about that,” Ms. Sesto said, adding that the Friends of the NRVT are “trying to get a little parking area tossed off the side of the road.”