At Monday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, town leaders unanimously approved moving forward with the next phase of construction on the Wilton Loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT). Given that the bulk of the money for the second phase has been raised, the selectman okayed the contract with Timber and Stone, the firm that built the first section of trail, which opened officially in April of 2014.
The second phase, set to begin construction this week, will run from Raymond Ln. to Sharp Hill Rd.–extending the reach of the 10-ft.-wide multipurpose trail by another half-mile. According to Pat Sesto, who is chairing the project, the second section will be completed hopefully sometime in July.
Sesto said the trail has been warmly embraced by the Wilton community, and people are using it a lot. “People say, ‘I thought it would be good, but this is way great!’ or ‘I thought it would be just another woodland path.’ But it’s really a different sort of path–Wilton is fortunate to be rich in trails, we have a lot to offer. But nothing like this. It allows a whole different set of people to get out and enjoy the outdoors.”
That was all part of the original goal that developers had, Sesto said.
“You go into these projects with a small group working on it, thinking how great this would be for our community, and you hope you get it right. A neighbor who lives by the trail who has a daughter in a wheelchair, she called to say the rock that blocks vehicles from getting on the trail–her daughter’s wheelchair couldn’t get past it. Of course we moved the rock. She was so eager to get on the trail, and we built it to be ADA compatible, not knowing if the need existed. You have a sense that it exists, but to have people come out and confirm you were right, it’s rewarding.”
The team behind the project has heard great reaction from the public that is backed by financial support.
“The response was overwhelmingly positive” stated Mike Lindberg of the NRVT Steering Committee. “This included not only praise, but also substantial donations to get the next phase going.” The first contributors to step forward were Cliff and Norma Fox with a $75,000 challenge grant. For every dollar donated, the Foxes will match it one for one. Several financial supporters of the first section were impressed enough to contribute to the second piece.
According to Sesto, the construction of the Raymond-to-Sharp-Hill piece will cost $220,000, with another $15,000 expected in ancillary costs. Given what has been already raised to date, the committee has a fundraising gap of approximately $30,000 remaining. Personal donations and grants are still being sought to complete the fundraising. Anyone wishing to make a contribution can do so online, with a PayPal link directly on the NRVT website or by emailing Sesto directly. Checks can also be mailed to the NRVT and sent to P.O. Box 174, Georgetown, CT 06829.
The contractor, Timber and Stone, has begun work this week clearing larger trees and brush. The community is invited to help with this section by participating in a Volunteer Day, this Saturday, June 7, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The work will consist of hauling cut brush, pole sawing, leaf blowing, and weed wrenching. Tools will be provided.
“So many people have asked to do field work and we haven’t had much to offer. Now is their chance to get out and lend a hand to build the trail. This work is important to help move this project ahead swiftly,” said Sesto, noting the committee was able to take advantage of a short window in the professional trail builders’ schedule.
Volunteers interested in trail clearing this Saturday should meet at Autumn Ridge Rd. off Sharp Hill Rd. at 9 a.m.. This is a small neighborhood road, so any carpooling would be appreciated. Volunteers should wear long pants and long sleeves, wear sturdy shoes, and bring work gloves. Water will be provided. Questions should be directed to Patricia Sesto at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.563.0180. For more information on the trail visit NRVT-Trail.com.