WILTON — As the Norwalk River Valley Trail is on the cusp of building three miles of new trails this year, it will see a change of leadership as Patricia Sesto steps down as president to be succeeded by executive director Charlie Taney. Taney, in turn, will relinquish his current position as a new executive director will be named shortly, a press release said.

Sesto, who lives in Ridgefield and was director of environmental affairs for 23 years in Wilton before leaving in 2015, is a founding member of the Friends of the NRVT. Taney, a Redding resident, joined the NRVT three years ago.

Sesto began working on the trail in 2008. As chairman and president of the five-town committee, she led the development of the routing study that serves as the foundation of the subsequent efforts to build the trail. A major milestone took place with the opening of a “demonstration” trail — a half-mile path running from Gaylord Road to Raymond Lane — on April 26, 2014.

Since 2012, Sesto has directed the construction of 2.5 miles of trail in Wilton, designation of five miles of trail in Norwalk, one mile in Redding, 1.5 miles in Ridgefield and helped raise over a $2.5 million in private donations and grants.

When Sesto left Wilton five years ago, she said, “This is not Pat Sesto’s trail. This is Wilton’s trail, it’s a trail for five towns. I just had the pleasure of heading it up.”

In 2019, as president of the Trail’s board of directors, Sesto received the CT Greenways Council Volunteer Award for significant contributions to the promotion, development and enhancement of greenways — linear open space in Connecticut.

Seeing a need for increased administrative support, the NRVT Steering Committee hired Taney as its first executive director. Of his move to now becoming president, he said, “It will be a real challenge to fill Pat’s shoes. Her leadership and creativity have established the NRVT as one of the most exciting projects in Fairfield County.”

Sesto and Taney attribute a strong working relationship to their success in seeing a positive conclusion to the DOT impasse that halted construction in Wilton and Norwalk for over 18 months.

“With the resolution of the DOT lease impasse, the NRVT will have a big year of new trail construction in 2020, with over three miles of new trail added in Norwalk, Wilton and Redding,” Sesto said.

“I could not be more pleased to hand off the leadership of the trail to Charlie,” she added. “The NRVT Board has every confidence Charlie will be a successful president.” Sesto will stay involved with the NRVT as a board member representing Ridgefield.

“We all have a goal of wanting to see the Norwalk River Valley Trail finished,” Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling said. “I appreciate Patricia’s involvement as a founding member of the Friends of the NRVT, a dedicated and passionate group that has been incredibly helpful toward those efforts. I wish Charlie the best of luck as the group’s new President and look forward to Trail construction later this year.”

Wilton First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said, “The residents of Wilton are extremely grateful to Pat Sesto and her leadership in making the NRVT a reality. We look forward to continuing to work with Charlie as President and Pat as a volunteer, as we continue to expand the trail in Wilton.”

Friends of the NRVT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, dedicated to the creation of a 30-mile, multi-use, soft-surface trail running from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, through Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding, terminating at Rogers Park in Danbury. More information is available at nrvt-trail.com.