Norwalk River Valley Trail announces new executive director

Andrea Gartner, right, will become the Norwalk River Valley Trail’s new executive director on Jan. 3, 2022.

Andrea Gartner, right, will become the Norwalk River Valley Trail’s new executive director on Jan. 3, 2022.

Contributed photo /Friends of NRVT

WILTON — While Wilton continues to work in conjunction with the Norwalk River Valley Trail to finish construction on a few sections of the trail within its borders, officials will work with a new executive director starting on Jan. 3.

Andrea Gartner is set to become the NRVT’s full-time executive director and will oversee all advancements with the trail starting in the new year.

“I am honored and excited to join an organization with such a strong foundation and advance this legacy project,” Gartner said in a release announcing her new role. “Now more than ever, people understand and appreciate community amenities that enhance our quality of life.”

“As someone long committed to projects that encourage residents to build sustainable and thriving towns and cities, Andrea is ideally situated to serve as NRVT’s first full-time executive director,” Charlie Taney, NRVT president, who previously served as its executive director, said in the release.

In September, Wilton made its most recent agreement to support and partner with the Norwalk River Valley Trail in its application for a LOTCIP grant to gain funds to finish a trail section spanning from Skunk Lane north to Pimpewaug Road.

Taney met with the town’s Board of Selectmen in September to ask for the grant to finish the portion of the trail before presenting to the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, another governing body that First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice sits on.

Town Engineer and Assistant Director of Public Works Frank Smeriglio worked with Taney in the leadup to the construction of the trail section.

Now, Gartner will work alongside Smeriglio, who did not immediately respond for comment Tuesday, to finish connecting the trail sections in Wilton.

The new executive director is a Fairfield County native who has had her hand in various community initiatives throughout her life.

After previously graduating with a bachelor’s degree in governmennt from Georgetown University, Gartner returned to Fairfield County and has raised her family in nearby Ridgefield.

In the community, Gartner has history volunteering with the Ridgefiled Playhouse and the Ridgefield Historical Society, according to the NRVT release. She has also played a part in expanding the local Boys and Girls Club and served as a commisioner on the town’s Historic District Commission for 15 years.

This is not Gartners first foray into an executive director’s role either.

Gartner previously served as the executive director of CityCenter Danbury and played a part in revitalizing the downtown area and launching the Danbury Innovation Center, connected to the Danbury Library.

Gartner’s reach also extends to the Greater Danbury Area Women’s Business Council, the Housatonic Habitat for Humanity Advisory Council, the Friends of the Danbury Museum and Historical Society, as a member of the DanburyWORKS Executive Board, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and even did work with Naugatuck Valley Community College.

In accordance with her new position at the NRVT, she will reprise her role as a member of the Board of Directors for the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut.

Gartner will work to complete what Vanderslice deemed a “great project” and what she said has support from many town residents.

“The work of the Friends (of NRVT) Board has made extraordinary progress and its vision for the Norwalk River Valley Trail is inspiring,” Gartner stated of the project that saw its first trail constructed 20 years ago.