After Halt on NRVT Progress is Threatened, State & Local Officials Hold ‘Productive Meeting’
At the Monday night, Sept. 23 Board of Selectmen meeting, Wilton’s First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice discussed potential trouble brewing for the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT), announcing that work on the trail had been halted, with the threat of complete impasse between state and local officials. Now comes news that local officials have since then held a “productive meeting” with representatives from Gov. Lamont‘s office and that a “way forward” on finishing the trail could be getting worked out.
Work had come to a halt because of a ‘difference of opinion’ between the State of Connecticut and several of the towns–including Wilton–through which the trail runs. At issue is the question of liability the state wanted those towns to assume for trail sections on state owned land. The towns want to obtain a waiver from that state requirement.
Patricia Sesto, president of the Friends of the NRVT, told Wilton’s BOS members that if the dispute between the towns and the state wasn’t settled, approximately $4.5 million in grants could disappear. Vanderslice was taking the lead in the conversations between the state and the NRVT because the $1.3 million grant for the WilWalk section (joining Wilton and Norwalk) would be the first grant to expire if an agreement cannot be reached.
Late last week (Thursday, Sept. 26), Vanderslice and other local leaders–Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), Senator Will Haskell (D-Wilton), Representative Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton), and Mayor Harry Rilling (Norwalk)–held a meeting with representatives from Lamont’s office, and issued a press release calling it “productive.”
Thursday, Oct. 3, they issued a “joint statement”:
“Since 2012, Friends of the Norwalk River Valley Trail and local and state officials have worked to complete the trail’s vision of connecting the communities of Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and Danbury with a scenic route for the public.
“Coordinating local and state efforts on a long-term vision like the Norwalk River Valley Trail has many built in historical challenges, but we believe our recent productive meeting could result in a way forward to map out a plan to finish this project. Numerous municipalities, Friends of the Norwalk River Valley Trail, generous citizen and business donors, as well as the state and federal governments have strived toward one goal, which is to finish the Trail. Our conversations will continue.”
The NRVT is an approximately 30-mile, wheelchair-accessible, recreation trail that will connect Norwalk’s Calf Pasture Beach with Danbury’s Rogers Park. Approximately eight miles of the NRVT has been completed in Norwalk and Wilton. When finished it will allow the public to bicycle, walk or jog through the scenic natural areas of Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and Danbury. In addition to providing access to natural features, including lakes, streams, meadows and woodlands, the NRVT will offer a healthy transportation alternative to rail stations, schools and businesses. The NRVT will connect the urban centers of Norwalk and Danbury with the surrounding towns of Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding.