Norwalk resident takes helm of Norwalk River Valley Trail

WILTON — Beth J. Merrill, a Norwalk resident, has taken over as executive director of the Norwalk River Valley Trail. She follows in the footsteps of Charlie Taney, the trail’s first person in that position, who in turn has taken over as president of the Friends of Norwalk River Valley Trail from Pat Sesto.

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. She stepped down last week. Taney, a Redding resident, joined the NRVT three years ago.

Merrill has considerable consulting experience in the nonprofit sector in Fairfield County, including work with Catholic Charities, Darien Arts Center, Malta House, and Israel Cancer Research Fund. In addition, she spent many years in consumer products, including owning a startup company.

She is a 12-year resident of Norwalk, having lived previously in Ridgefield and New Canaan. She enjoys hiking and biking and plans to share the NRVT with her son, his wife and many friends.

Helen Rendell Baker, an NRVT b oard member and Wilton resident, said, “The board is excited to have Beth Merrill as our new executive director. Her private sector and nonprofit skills will be a real benefit to the NRVT.”

Cathy Smith, also a board member and Wilton resident added, “Happily, we’ll be very busy now that the DOT lease is resolved and couldn’t be happier to have Beth on board to help make more trail happen in Wilton.”

Merrill said the NRVT’s showcase trail in Wilton is ready for expansion north of Skunk Lane.

“I look forward to working with Helen Rendell Baker and the NRVT team in raising the pre-construction funding this year and starting construction in 2021,” she said.

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