The steering committee of the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT) has received a federal grant for assistance in exploring the development of a multi-use trail extending from Norwalk to Danbury.
The $180,000 grant from the National Recreational Trails Program was approved by the Federal Highways Administration with the recommendation of the Connecticut Recreational Trails Advisory Board. The grant program is administered in Connecticut by the Department of Environmental Protection.
The grant will be used to conduct a routing study for the trail, including extensive solicitation of input from members of the public, regional planning agencies, municipal boards and commissions, and businesses and other organizations.
The grant proposal was submitted in the fall of 2009 by the Town of Wilton on behalf of the NRVT steering committee, which comprises representatives from Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding, and Danbury. The steering committee members were appointed by the chief elected officials of the five municipalities. While the group is chaired by Patricia Sesto, Director of Wilton's Department of Environmental Affairs, most of its members are volunteers.
Since the early 1990s, groups that have successfully constructed trails in the individual towns have been exploring the possibility of linking them together to form a trail that would benefit the entire region. Because of this history, the NRVT steering committee believes that there may be significant public support for the project. The committee will, however, seek confirmation of this support through an appropriate process of public consultation. It will also seek public input on design, routing, and other aspects of the trail.
"The award of this grant is great news for all five communities," said steering committee chairman Patricia Sesto. "The NRVT will offer significant benefits to everyone, residents of the towns directly involved and visitors alike, and at the same time does not preclude any other transportation initiatives. We're looking forward to moving ahead with conducting the study and seeking public input, so that we can develop a firm plan for the trail, including its exact route, its design, and its amenities."
"The NRVT will be a regional transportation resource that links our five communities in a unique way," said Gail Lavielle, NRVT public outreach subcommittee chair and member of the CT Public Transportation Commission. "Not only is it consistent with many state-level transportation priorities – improved multi-modal transit, reduced automobile reliance, environmentally friendly transportation – but it will also provide new opportunities for fitness, family outings, and tourism."
The proposed NRVT would provide a route of approximately 27 miles for pedestrians, cyclists, and other users of non-motorized transportation. It would extend from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk through the Norwalk River valley to Danbury, incorporating, where possible, existing trails in Norwalk, Ridgefield, and Wilton, as well as new segments in Redding. Ultimately the trail should reflect the needs and desires of each of these communities. The first continuous mile of the trail, which begins at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, has already been completed.
More information on the NRVT is available at www.nrvt-trail.com.