The Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT) is planned to be a Multi-Use Trail; where the trail can be used by different users which include walkers, bikers, runners, joggers, those on roller blades, those wheeling strollers, and people in wheelchairs. The NRVT will enhance both the wellness and quality of life of Norwalk residents and visitors. Bicycling is an enjoyable, inexpensive, efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. It can be enjoyed by all, regardless of gender, age, and social, economic, or ethnic background.
The District 95/7 development project will be accessible from the NRVT. Hotel guests at 95/7 will have recreational access to the trail. Ultimately, commuters may bicycle to work, from north Norwalk or from Wilton. There will be access to the Norwalk River for canoers or kayakers. The immediate plan is for the NRVT to begin at Calf Pasture Beach and extend northward the entire length of Norwalk and into Wilton. When complete to Wilton High School the length will be about 12.8 miles. Eventually, the trail may be extended as far north as Danbury. The length of the trail from Calf Pasture Beach to the Norwalk-Wilton line is approximately 8.1 miles.
The trail currently has a section in Norwalk from Matthews Park to Union Park which has been completed. Another short section from New Canaan Avenue to Broad Street is completed. . The next trail section which is scheduled for construction will extend from Union Park, north along Riverside Avenue to Route 123. It is presently necessary to design this section, obtain the necessary permits, obtain funding, and then select a contractor for construction. In this 4600 foot section of the NRVT, it is necessary to cross the Norwalk River, which will be on the new Route 123 bridge which is currently being reconstructed by CONNDOT. When this trail section is completed, it will be possible to go from the Maritime Center to Broad Street on the NRVT. This section may be completed in 2011.
"Be a king," prompted Susan VanBenschoten. "Forget about money or zoning, or anything man made as constraints."
So empowered, 17 residents of Ridgefield, including town officials and business owners, used felt-tipped markers of various colors Wednesday night to recast a segment of Route 7 into how they envisioned it should be developed to meet the needs of the surrounding community.
Separated into three groups, the workshop paricipants hunched over large prints of an aerial photograph of the "focus area" and debated where new office buildings, condominiums and shopping centers should go, interspersed with bike paths, green space and other amenities.
Being king also granted the ability to scribble over existing structures deemed blemishes or eyesores, subjecting them to demolition by pen.
The segment of Route 7 that was under discussion Wednesday night runs from Little Pond, south of the Route 35 intersection, to the locations of the Pamby Motor's dealership and Ullman Devices Corporation to the north.
VanBenschoten is chief operating office and project manager of Fitzgerald and Halliday, a Hartford consulting firm hired by the state to create a development plan for theRoute 7 corridor between Norwalk and Danbury. Intended to be implemented by 2030, the study seeks to improve traffic flow and meet the development needs of the communities the highway passes through: Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding.
The evening's program resulted from the consulting firm's decision that three areas of Route 7 corridor should receive special attention for improvement. In addition to the Route 35 intersection, they are the Branchville area of Ridgefield and Wilton Center.
Besides marking the aerial prints, the participants also were shown a series of photographs projected on a screen that depicted scenes of streets, outdoor dining areas, retail stores and wooded, undeveloped locations.
Using keypads that enabled them express the degree to which they liked or disliked each image, they selected scenes they felt depicted models of what should be included along the Route 35 intersection segment.
The evening concluded with a representative from each group describing what proposed improvements and changes were selected.
The 20-month-long study is sponsored by the South Western Regional Planning Agency and the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials.