It is always a delight to hear from Patch readers when they know the answers to my history questions, but it was a suprise and a pleasant experience to hear from primary sources on this week's topic. Charter members from the Shoreline Greenway Trail (SGT) committee reached out in the comments and via e-mail with tales of their own history and experience with the trail.
The goal of the SGT is to create a 25 mile trail from Lighthouse Point in New Haven to Hammonassett State Park in Madison. The trail will be a route usable by bicyclists, stroller-walkers, joggers, and other nature lovers. According to the website, the SGT hopes to reach everyone from families with young children to senior citizens. The SGT also seeks to provide a no-traffic, safe travel path for cyclists and a trail that connects the four shoreline communities.
Chip Angle of Branford, Barbara Brow and Bill Richardson of East Haven, and Gus Horvath from Madison reached out with information about the trail.
In an interview with Patch editor Julie Weisberg, Brow explained how she got involved with the trail. Back in 2002, she was approached by two women from Guilford who wanted her to chair the East Haven committee.
Since the beginning, the trail has been a collaborative project of the East Haven, Branford, Guilford, and Madison communities. Brow reached out to the community in East Haven and found a lot of support there – according to Richardson, the Maturo and Capone administrations were both very supportive, and the SGT has a great working relationship with the East Haven Land Trust, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and the Department of Transportation, as well as the support of Senator Len Fasano and State Rep. James Albis. The two politicians were both on hand at the groundbreaking ceremony for the trailhead at D. C. Moore School on October 4.
In East Haven, the route has changed very little from the one first proposed in 2002, and rather than being built on old trails through the woods, the SGT is primarily composed of new trail, including planned boardwalk through the Bradford Preserve.
The situation in Madison is slightly different: the original route intended to make use of Madison Land Trust trails already in existence. According to Horvath, the initial plan involved more rural routes than the route currently in the works. The end point remains the same, however; Horvath wrote:
We approached the officials at Hammonnasset State Park and received permission to incorporate their existing trail and this gave us a termination at Meigs' Point.
According to early articles in the New Haven Register covering the trail's initial start, there were hopes that the trail would be finished quickly. But because the committee relies on volunteers to accomplish the work of trailblazing, and because there are four unique communities involved in the project, the work is taking some time. As Brow said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 4, "trail-building doesn't happen quickly."
Two sections of the trail are completed with access for bicyclists, and more than 40 percent of the proposed trail is approved and under construction or completed. Four sections are open for walkers in Branford. And there are more good things to look for in the coming year. According to Richardson:
Our new 900 foot boardwalk, when finished next year will connect the north and south portions of the EH SGT. It will go through the Bradford Preserve giving the walkers a beautiful scenic trail to enjoy. This will be paid through State and Federal grants and is in the DOT design phase now.
Madison residents can also look forward to some federal funding being channeled into the trail, according to Patch reader VCR. VCR shared some excitement about the success of Trailblazer's Run the Gauntlet at Hammonasset, and shared a look into the future:
In a couple of weeks we will start work on the 180-foot boardwalk that will cross the marsh beside the Hammonasset entrance road to access the 1/3 mile of trail that was finished in the spring. Later this fall we will complete the trail on the undeveloped peninsula of the park - about another 1/3 miles, and we will construct the short connector trail between these two segments on DOT property beside the Post Road.
SGT is clearly a group that is looking toward the future, creating a legacy for shoreline residents to enjoy for years to come.