DEEP: Governor Rell Commends Open Space Advocates

June 5, 2009

Governor Rell Commends Open Space Advocates
Greenways Council Presents 10th
Annual Greenways Awards and

Designates Three New CT Greenways

Governor M. Jodi Rell today commended fifteen individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the promotion, development and enhancement of linear open space in Connecticut.

Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette joined Connecticut Greenways Council Chairman Bill O’Neill and the National Park Service Rivers & Trails Program staff John Monroe today for the 2009 Greenway Awards ceremony. A total of fifteen individuals, municipalities and organizations were recognized for their contributions to Connecticut Greenways.

The ceremony at the Old Fire House in Thomaston, Connecticut, was held as part of the nationwide celebration of National Trails Day, which is Saturday, June 6. This year the theme of National Trails Day is "Take In the Outdoors." Connecticut is recognized for having the most events nationally.

Greenways in Connecticut cover thousands of acres throughout every county in the state. There are over a thousand miles of trails in Connecticut used for active recreation including walking, biking, horseback riding and in-line skating. Many of these are supported by National Recreational Trails grants, funded each year by the Federal Highway Administration and awarded by the DEP.

Governor Rell said, "Greenways enrich our lives by making it easy to get outside to bike, hike or take a simple walk in your community. Thank you to each of this year’s award winners for their advocacy and hard work in their communities to provide safe trails for all of us. We look forward to the expansion and maintenance of existing trails as we see stimulus funds in Connecticut be put to good use. Together, we will preserve – forever preserve – the character and beauty of our state."

Bill O’Neill, Chair of the Greenways Council says, "Thanks to almost fifteen years of hard work by the Connecticut Greenways Council and many others, the Connecticut Greenway system is at the "tipping Point" for state-wide connections. Thanks to programs such as No Child Left Inside, the East Coast Greenway, the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail system, and grants for trails, greenways, and open space, citizens around Connecticut have the opportunity to walk, cycle, ride, and paddle our forests, parks, and streams."

O’Neill added, "It is a major sign of progress that most municipalities now include greenways in their plans of conservation and development.  Even federal stimulus funds are going toward projects that will make walking and cycling safer and more accessible than ever.  In these uncertain financial times, our residents are able to take advantage of free, healthy, recreational opportunities close to home."

Many other communities around Connecticut have chosen, through Greenway Designation, to recognize the importance of river corridors for natural resource protection, recreational opportunities, and scenic values. Other types of greenways may include paved or unpaved trail systems, ridgelines, or linked parcels of open space.

Awards were presented to the following:

Unsung Hero, Rob Dexter - As an East Coast Greenway (ECG) Ambassador, Rob has been tasked with signing the on and off-road 200 mile ECG route through Connecticut and town roads and linear parks under the guidance of Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or privately owned land that also requires signage. The full state signage goal is a large task and is a very important part of the Greenways program.

Transportation, Mark Neilson, Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency - The Regional Bicycle Plan for the Greater Bridgeport Planning Region includes a concept to develop a continuous and interconnected multi-use trail for bicyclists and pedestrians from the Water Street Dock in Bridgeport to the Newtown town line. The almost 15-mile trail would link communities, and provide a safe and protected transportation corridor for bicyclists, pedestrians and other users.

Media , Judy Benson, New London Day - Judy Benson covers health, science and the environment for the New London Day. In 2006 she was named the New England Press Association Journalist of the Year. She has won numerous other awards, including a first place for environmental reporting and second place for health reporting in 2008 from the New England Press Association. She has been with The Day since 1991.  

Health, Hillary Norcia/Central CT Health District (Wethersfield, Newington, Berlin, Rocky Hill) - The Central CT Health District, under a grant from the Department of Public Health, carried out a plan to prepare GIS maps for all trails in the town of Wethersfield. Mapping included not only location and description, but an assessment of accessibility on each pathway. To celebrate the mapping and to encourage Wethersfield residents to utilize the trail system, Hillary Norcia of the District coordinated the first Wethersfield Heritage Trail Day in April. Hundreds of people turned out for the event, which included walks, a bike rodeo and safety information for children, and healthy foods from local restaurants.

Legislators , Sen. Donald DeFranzo, (New Britain, Berlin, Farmington) Rep. Antonio Guerrera, (Newington, Rocky Hill, Wethersfield), Rep. Thomas Kehoe (Glastonbury) - Senator DeFranzo and Representatives Guerrera and Kehoe have been champions of bicyclists and pedestrian transportation projects as leaders of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee. Earlier this year, they spoke to the need for federal stimulus funds to be used on non-motorized projects, finding them just as critical to the state’s transportation infrastructure as those involving cars. They have been key supporters of SB 735, an Act Improving Bicycle and Pedestrian Access, which incorporates elements of the "complete streets" concept to ensure that Connecticut’s roadways are safe and accessible for all users.

Advocacy, Linda Hoza, Stamford, - Linda has been involved with the Merritt Parkway Trail since 1993 when Regional Plan Association’s CT Steering Committee voted to take on the initiative. She established the Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance (MPTA) in 2000, and it has continued to build strong grass roots support for the trail through public forums, conferences, presentations to civic organizations and meetings with legislators and municipal officials.

Planning, Patrice Carson, Somers Town Planner - Patrice and the Somers Planning Commission have been working diligently for the past 20 years procuring and protecting trails, trail access and open space in Somers. When the town’s Master Plan and Development Regulations were revised in the late 80’s, recognition of the existing trails and trail system was incorporated into the Plan. Patrice has applied for, and been awarded, many grants to help in trail and land procurement including the recent 284 acre purchase of Whitaker Woods, an undeveloped forested parcel with potential for trails, recreation, and wildlife habitat.

Municipality, Town of Killingly - The Town of Killingly has been working hard to improve its trails, parks, and river access throughout the community. In May of this year, Killingly dedicated a newly-completed segment of the Quinebaug River Trail. The trail follows the Quinebaug River south for three miles from the National Historic Downtown of Danielson, and is an important component of the East Coast Greenway trail system.
Also in May, Killingly partnered with the National Park Service and The Last Green Valley’s Source to Sea Program to dedicate a segment of the newly-established Quinebaug River Water Trail.

Volunteers, New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA), CT Chapter - This local chapter of International Mountain Biking Association is one of CTs recreational trails advocacy organizations. Evidence of NEMBAs mission to preserving open space and educate the mountain bike community about the importance of responsible riding can be seen around CT. NEMBA has designed and developed multi-use trails on private property and state land. They organize trail work parties to provide focused trail maintenance. They hold trail training providing users with a day or more of hands on trail design, development and maintenance information. Today there are over 25 volunteer patrollers.

Non-profit Organization, Shoreline Greenway Trail, Inc (New Haven, East Haven, Branford, Guilford, Madison) The SGT’s mission to develop and manage a multi-use greenway trail from New Haven Harbor to Hammonasset Beach in Madison has been coming to fruition since 2003. The SGT runs on dedicated volunteer teams representing all four towns. The SGT has and continues to successfully secured private, state and federal funding and cooperation with other volunteer groups such as the Boy Scouts to support the design, development and maintenance of the trial.

Education, Heather Ferrer: Heather is a science teacher at Haddam-Killingworth High School, where one of her goals as an educator has been to get young people more interested in stewardship and enjoyment of the outdoors.  Heather is working with The CT Forest & Park Association and CT DEP on incorporating sustainable trail design, development and management into all levels of her science curriculum. This spring, Heather’s students will be performing a trail assessment in Cockaponset State Forest and taking part in trail maintenance on CT Trails Day.

Government, Kathleen O’Neill, Town of Oxford - Kathy, a grant writer and manager for the Town of has been a champion for Oxford’s "Green Collar" of open space. Working with local elected officials and other interested parties, she successfully obtained funding for construction of recreational trails available both to residents of Oxford and Seymour as well as statewide. Kathy has also encouraged and established partnerships with local youth organizations such as Oxford High School’s Youth Conservation Corps and Bridgeport’s Groundwork to provide trial work and educational opportunities.

Land Trust, Simsbury Land Trust - The Simsbury Land Trust has been instrumental in protecting open space in that town, raising funds for the purchase of property and easements. They have developed a walk book featuring 26 hiking trails in Simsbury, complete with maps and descriptions of the hikes. Also included are facts and information about the important natural features found in the areas surrounding the trails. Lately they have been collaborating in the development of an east/west running trail in the town that would ultimately connect Penwood State Park with McLean Game Refuge.

Congressman Chris Murphy, Fifth District, Special Recognition - Congressman Murphy is being recognized for his unwavering, and ultimately successful effort to achieve National Scenic Trail designation for the MMM Trail, now known as the New England Scenic Trail. The designation was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year, the culmination of several years of effort by both professional staff and volunteers in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

2009 Officially Designated Greenways

Steel Brook Greenway, Watertown - This brook begins in the northern reaches of Watertown and flows south to the Naugatuck River in Waterbury. The establishment of the Steele Brook Greenway form Watertown to Oakville is the first step in getting citizens access to the brook which is an important community water resource providing active and passive recreation. The Town also obtained an America the Beautiful Grant that will be utilized to plant specimen trees and create a "Heritage Trail". A goal is to connect to the Naugatuck River Greenway and provide other links throughout Watertown.

Shoreline Greenway Trail – New Haven to Madison - The Shoreline Greenway Trail will run through meadows and woods along the Sound from Lighthouse Point on New Haven Harbor for twenty-five miles to Hammonasset State Park in Madison. The trail will provide recreational, transportation and educational opportunities for all Connecticut residents. The Shoreline Greenway Trail, Inc. a non-profit organization has been fundraising, educating potential property owners and working on designing, building and maintaining this trail since 2003. Visit the website at: http://shorelinegreenwaytrail.org/.

Scantic River Greenway Extension - The 2009 Scantic River Greenway Designation is for an extension of the 2008 Designated Scantic River Greenway and the 2002 Designated Scantic River Park Greenway in Enfield. The multi-function greenway encompasses the Scantic River linking sections along the Enfield corridor to the Town line in East Windsor. The Greenway area is one of the most important natural resources in Enfield and enjoyed by a great number of its citizens on a daily basis. Characteristics include natural resource protection, recreational opportunity, and protection of unique geologic and historic features. The Scantic River Watershed Association is the acting steward working closely with the local municipalities and citizens. See their website: http://www.scanticriverwatershed.org/