Environmental Affairs Director Mike Conklin announced Monday night that the Wilton Kiwanis Club has donated $17,000 to the town for the River Road park.

At the June 6 meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Conklin said, "Wilton Kiwanis approached the town and wanted to enhance the area beyond just invasive species removal and replanting, and they have made a very generous offer to present the town with a gift of $17,000 to fund this park project."

"Their donation will pay for initial tree removal, landscaping, the creation of the space, one wheelchair-accessible [chess] game table, a 36 inch granite seal (like a ground-level monument) and the relocation of the League of Women Voters Adopt a Spot sign," Conklin said.

Conklin said there were two other anonymous gifts as well. "I would ask tonight that you consider accepting those gifts," he said. Selectmen voted all-in-favor of accepting.

"I want to thank Kiwanis," said First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice. "We were looking at the invasive species and how to remove them, and Kiwanis came and said they would like to get involved. We would not have a project to this extent; we wouldn't have a chess park."

The River Road park project, slated for completion in the fall, was born out of a plan to control the spread of invasive species in the area of Schenck's Island and the Norwalk River.

It now involves opening up the space across from 5 River Road, installing picnic tables and benches and creating views of the Norwalk River, which can't be seen from the road in the summertime. It will feature three chess tables and a small, park-like clearing seeded with grass.

"Ultimately, this project will do a number of things," Conklin said. "It's going to enhance the biodiversity of plants in the area, as well as create open space that children and families can enjoy. You'll be able to get right down to the river in one particular spot."

"I have to say that Kiwanis really stepped up the level of this park and created an area that people will definitely want to visit in the future," Conklin said.

For a story on the River Road park project, visit this address.