‘Rogue’ trail issue at Wilton’s Bradley Park may soon have a solution

Photo of J.D. Freda
The trail plan for the new Bradley Park official trail per Dave Francefort of FCNEMBA.

The trail plan for the new Bradley Park official trail per Dave Francefort of FCNEMBA.

Contributed Photo

WILTON — Prompted by “illegal, rogue” trails sprouting up at the town’s Bradley Park over the past few years due to residents traveling off the beaten path, a new trail plan was proposed last week to the Conservation Commission at no cost to the town.

Dave Francefort, member of the Fairfield County chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, suggested turnin the rogue trails into one new trail, built entirely through volunteer work. The scope of the work, per the presentation, would take “between 300 and 400 man hours” over two full weekends, with two days of work each.

Working with the Friends of Bradley Park, Francefort was recommended by Wilton Director of Environmental Affairs Mike Conklin. Francefort has done trail rerouting work, mostly in Wilton Town Forest, coordinating with and working in conjunction with Conklin for about 12 years, he said.

Francefort has done mostly all of his work in Wilton Town Forest, including trail rehabilitation and removing obstructions such as downed branches or trimming low-hanging trees, free of charge for the town.

If the commission were to accept the proposal, Francefort would do a site walk and flag the new trail route, which would have to then be approved by the town. Once approved, Francefort would assemble a small team to construct the trail that would sit at a ridge 20 feet higher than the current Bradley Park trail.

The longtime FCNEMBA member said he does it “to give back to the community” and for mountain bikers. However, he said his sustainable trails are meant for multiple purposes — dog walking, running, biking and hiking.

Despite chairperson Jackie Algon saying the commission would not take a vote on the matter, commissioner Frank Simone expressed his full support.

“As Jerry Maguire said, ‘You had me at hello,’” Simone said. “I recommend that we do exactly what you’re asking us.”

Algon said a vote would take place at the next Conservation Commission meeting.

Conklin said the Bradley Park trails provide an easier experience for beginner mountain bikers, while trails managed by Francefort at the Wilton Town Forest are for more advanced riders. He said he saw an opportunity for new riders to learn the ropes at a smaller community trail like Bradley Park, to which Francefort agreed.

The seasoned trailbuilder assured commissioners that when the trail construction is underway, he will provide tool safety instructionals and have a number of other trained professionals on-hand to guide all volunteers.

Francefort will return at the next meeting to answer any further questions the Conservation Commission might have.