DEEP: Governor’s Greenways Council Presents 17th Annual Greenways Awards

2016 Press Release
 
 
June 3, 2016
 
 
Governor’s Greenways Council Presents
17th Annual Greenways Awards

Designates Two New Connecticut Greenways
 
 
The Governor’s Greenways Council today commended five individuals, two volunteer trail committees and a non-profit organization that have made significant contributions to the promotion, development and enhancement of Greenways – linear open space in Connecticut – and designated a new greenway at a ceremony this morning at the James L. Goodwin Conservation Center Pavilion, in Hampton, CT. 
 
Susan Whalen, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) said “Greenways continue to provide easy and safe trails, away from traffic, for people of all ages to enjoy.  Whether you prefer a gentle stroll or a vigorous run, Greenways afford visitors a scenic opportunity all over Connecticut.  Today’s awards and designations add to over 80 existing Greenways and illustrate the passion and dedication of its volunteers to make these trails possible.”
 
Bruce Donald, Chair of the CT Greenways Council said, “Connected trails running through municipalities are proven successes. These facilities, by whatever name, have become integral to the concept of not just transportation, but community.  They have become the modern version of the village green, where people meet to socialize and have fun in a safe outdoor environment – a profoundly valued amenity in our mechanized lives.”
 
Greenways in Connecticut cover thousands of acres throughout every county in the state and may include paved or unpaved trail systems, ridgelines, or linked parcels of open space. 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. The CT Greenways Council website contains details on how to get designations, assistance and a map of our State Greenways.  https://www.ct.gov/deep/greenways
 
          
The Council presented the following awards:
 
2016 CT Greenways Council Award Recipients:
 
Robert E. Lee, Town Manager, Plainville, CT  Municipal Achievement
 
For almost a decade Mr. Lee has been working on bringing multi-use trails to fruition in Plainville, including negotiations with Pan Am Railways on possible right of ways. Recently Mr. Lee presided over the board selected to handle the closure of the Central CT Regional Planning Agency. Through his efforts, unused funding was forwarded to the Capital Region Council of Governments, which Plainville joined in 2015. That funding in part was repurposed to provide for the Plainville Trail Alignment Study, recently awarded to VHB and Mobycon for completion in 2017. Plainville is the last major gap in the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in CT.
 
Simsbury Free Bike (SFB) Larry Linonis, Pattie Jacobus  Special Achievement
 
The first free rental not-for-profit in the state, SFB is supported by donations, corporate sponsors and volunteers.  The program seeks to promote the use of bicycles and area trails, providing bikes to the public for recreation and alternative transportation in the Farmington Valley centered on the multi-use Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and the Farmington River Trail.  SFB, after five years, is the largest bike share in the state and has over 50 bikes at nine bike rental stations in five communities. Projected ridership for 2016 is 1,700 people during the season. Those 18 and over with a $10 refundable deposit and valid ID, get access to the trails and sights of the Farmington Valley. SFB’s bike sharing program is one of the major reasons that Simsbury is the only Silver Bike Friendly Community in CT. 
 
Tony Chernolis, Hartford     Advocacy
 
Tony left his job as an engineer at Pratt & Whitney to work in youth development at the Center for Latino Progress and subsequently founded “BiCi” -- the Community Bicycle Workshop in Hartford. He’s not owned a car since 2010 and walks or bikes all around the city keeping a steady eye on what’s happening and what needs to be done.  He is a member of the Safe Streets Committee in Hartford, actively involved in recent revisions to Hartford’s zoning codes, an active volunteer for cycling and safety education with Bike/Walk CT, and promotes sustainable transportation through the Transport Hartford group.
 
Deborah Thibodeau, Simsbury    Unsung Hero
 
Deb has been a spark plug in the bicycle mission in Simsbury working with school systems getting kids involved in biking. More importantly, she was a key facilitator for the Simsbury school system’s Safe Routes to School program. She has also been a volunteer for the National Bike Challenge.
 
Thompson Trails Committee     Volunteer Trail Committee Achievement
(TTC)
 
The TTC is an all-volunteer committee that has been actively promoting and improving Thompson’s trails, water trails, and connections to neighboring communities since 2003. In addition to all of the in-town work they have accomplished, the Trails Committee is an outstanding partner and works on regional trails issues with neighboring towns, CT DEEP, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Friends of Titanic Trail, East Coast Greenways, and The Last Green Valley. The TTC has organized dozens of activities for the public, and actively maintains and improves many publicly accessible trails available for hiking or easy walking, nature study, biking, horseback riding and boating. They have worked on many trails and provide information and trail maps at the Town Hall, Thompson Library, on the town website and through a FB page.  The Committee has worked on historical research and signage of the Great Train Wreck for the Airline Trail kiosks. They are continuing to work on new trails, and we’re proud to be their partner in the Airline Trail upgrades that are ongoing. 
 
Ginny Hole, South Windsor     Education
 
Ginny was instrumental in starting South Windsor Walk & Wheel Ways (SWW&WW) in 2007, and since then has actively worked to promote and improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in the town of South Windsor.  Most prominent in her accomplishments has been the creation of a grade school bicycle safety class now given to every 4th grader in the public school system.  Ginny helped with setting up this program back in 2008, and in the 2013-2014 school year SWW&WW (along with P.E. teachers in the school system) took over responsibility for the running the bicycle safety program in South Windsor’s public grade schools.  Ginny was also instrumental in acquiring town-owned bicycles for use in the program, and a town-owned trailer to transport the bikes.  This program was either the first, or among the first in Connecticut where bicycle education is now a part of the town curriculum.
 
Goodwin Trails Committee                                           Volunteer Trail Committee Achievement
 
This group of volunteers has been working at Goodwin State Forest since 2009.  It is a multi- user trail group including hikers, bikers, and equestrians.  The group was able to overcome serious trail user conflicts early on and have since been maintaining and improving the large trail system at Goodwin which includes a couple of interpretive trails and a few bridges. In keeping with the mission of the Goodwin Conservation Center and with a focus on attracting novice hikers or first time forest users, they developed and implemented a trail plan making it nearly impossible to get lost on Goodwin’s system of trails. The group has also partnered with DEEP’s Wildlife Division creating an observation platform on Governor’s Island and helping to maintain water levels in two ponds and a marsh to prevent trail flooding and improve waterfowl habitat. Finally, through forming new partnerships, the group has established a Goodwin Forest Trail Run which hosts 250 participants annually.
 
Barbara Amodio, Bolton       Volunteer
 
Barbara co-founded Bike/Walk Bolton (BWB). Recently she worked tirelessly to organize a trail presentation to more than 100 attendees in Bolton. BWB is actively working on Bolton’s application to be a bicycle friendly community. They have met with UCONN, Mansfield, and Coventry to build the multi-use trail gap between Bolton Notch (part of the East Coast Greenway) and UCONN as well as keeping ongoing contact with ConnDOT designers as they try to close the gap from Finley Street, Manchester to Bolton Post Office. Barbara is an active member of the East Coast Greenway (ECG), and she participates in the 2,900 mile annual ride. She is helping to organize a youth bicycle group for Bolton’s Memorial Day Parade, its first annual entry.  She is a regular attendee of Bolton’s Board of Selectmen meetings, keeping the town focused on Bolton’s commitment to bike/ped programs.
 

2016 Officially Designated Greenways
 
Riverfront Parks in Hartford and East Hartford, an Extension of the CT River Greenway – Nominated by Riverfront Recapture and endorsed by the Towns of Hartford and East Hartford.  With this designation, the riverfront parks are now part of our official CT River Greenway.  The parks cover almost 150 acres in two municipalities (Hartford and East Hartford) with several miles of paved and lighted Riverwalks connected by two accessible pedestrian river crossings on the Founders and Charter Oak Bridges. In addition, there are two plus miles of floodplain trails in Riverside Park that are easily explored either on foot or bike. The parks also have plenty of free parking onsite from sunrise to sunset, weather and river conditions permitting. 
Riverfront Recapture can be contacted for more information at MNicol@Riverfront.org or (860) 713 – 3131, ext. 334.
 
Quinebaug River Greenway Extension through the Town of Griswold – nominated by the Town of Griswold Economic Development Commission and endorsed by the Town of Griswold.  The goals of the extended Quinebaug River Greenway are: Provide recreation opportunities for residents and visitors; Improve the quality of life in local communities; Help retain and attract new businesses and residents; Raise awareness and help build appreciation of the Quinebaug River; and Connecting open spaces.  With this designation, the official Quinebaug River Greenway is now extended through the Town of Griswold and it is intended that this will be a catalyst for other towns to the west and south to further extend the Greenway, finally linking it to our officially designated Shetucket River Greenway.  The Town can be contacted for more information at (860) - 376-7060.