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Connecticut’s Shoreline Greenway Trail continued

Each of the towns also hosts a land conservation trust, which manages a portion of land that the trail would, ide- ally, travel through. While some of the land trusts in the corridor have embraced the project, others have expressed some apprehension about the effect a public trail would have on the land they are entrusted to protect. The main concerns centered on any non-sus- tainable surfaces (e.g., bituminous pave- ments) used for the trail, as well as potential grade changes that could impact the property, including construc- tion equipment trucking on and through it.

The conceptual plan addresses those concerns by staying true to the needs of the land, proposing stone screenings surfacing for trails, and min- imizing grading and other site changes to disrupt the natural environment as little as possible. So far, the conserva- tion trusts have not agreed to open all of the land they manage for the trail. But, along with the Amtrak land and other potential parcels, the plan outlines how to reincorporate these sections into the master trail in the hopes that down

34 SPRING 2015

the road the parties can negotiate some form of agreement to allow more of the public to enjoy the local environment.

A Group Effort

In addition to coordinating with the many private owners whose land the trail would potentially cross, trail orga- nizers also faced the challenge of work- ing with the four towns through which it travels. While state and congressional representatives worked to find the fed- eral funding to move the trail forward, responsibility for implementing and maintaining the trail falls to the towns, who get their own portion of the fund- ing to use for trail work as they see fit. The towns, naturally, had some concerns about taking on the manage- ment of new infrastructure, but com- pletely supported the idea of the trail and wanted to see it move forward. To help do so in a coordinated way, town representatives have partnered with the Shoreline Greenway Trail organization, which has teams of board members and volunteers associated with each town who work together through the plan- ning, design, construction, and eventual

maintenance phases of the trail. Coordination has taken loads of communication by trail designers, SGT representatives, town officials, and the other organizations involved. In early planning phases, the design team and the SGT held two public design char- rettes and informational meetings in each town, as well as a number of pri- vate stakeholder/property owner meet- ings to discuss the plan and alterna- tives. Now, each town has moved for- ward on their section, although in dif- ferent ways.

One of East Haven’s trail segments is a one-mile stretch traveling over the Bradford Preserve, a salt marsh, which entails some complex permitting and environmental conservation planning. During the course of that early design work, archaeologists found some Native American artifacts, so design of the trail is currently delayed while the town works through proper permitting and mitigation process. Once built, the section will be a premier stretch of the trail, featuring a boardwalk to take users over the coastal marsh.

continued on page 36

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