Multi-use trail project receives $600k grant

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Wed., Feb. 9, 2011
Resident Richard Marks said the path will have many benefits. Photos by Steve Smith.
Resident Richard Marks said the path will have many benefits. Photos by Steve Smith.

The long-sought multi-use trail through Addison Bog, connecting the Smith Middle School with Bell Street, took a big step toward completion last week, when the Town Council set a public hearing for Feb. 22 to approve the transfer of funds needed to construct the pathway.

This follows on the heels of the completion of the bidding process, as well as the approval of state and federal grants totaling $600,000 of the price tag estimated at around $872,000.

Town Manager Richard Johnson said the project has $197,000 of town funding already approved and available, and that the earlier estimates for the project were around $1.2 million. The town sought 13 bids, and the lowest responsible bid was $829,000. Funds for unknown costs would bring the current budget for the project to $872,000, Johnson said.

Town officials expect that the difference can be made up from the savings from a Hebron Avenue School roof repair project that was completed $175,000 below budget.

Johnson suggested the council transfer $75,000 from the Hebron Avenue project to the trail project to reach the $872,000. Also, the transfer of the $600,000 to the project fund would be necessary to show the project is in place, with the reimbursement of those funds expected in the summer.

“We are very confident that the grant funds are available to the town,” he said.

Juniper Lane resident Richard Marks, representing Glastonbury Bikeways, said that the plan works well with the group's efforts, as well as the town's Plan of Conservation and Development.

“Being bike-friendly means safety,” Marks said. “It also means access. The proposal before you is a giant step in providing access. It's another link, providing access toward the center of town. It offers access to pedestrians, those who rely on a wheelchair, [and] for children on their way to school or to the ball fields.”

Two residents spoke about the project during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Marks added that the natural area which the path will traverse is a beautiful one that will make Glastonbury residents proud.

Eileen Bartley of Great Pond Road concurred. “It's a window of opportunity to use the state money that we may not have in the future,” she said.

Bartley said she was speaking as a member of the Bikeways group, but also on behalf of anyone who would use the trail.

Council Chair Susan Karp said the public hearing would offer the opportunity for more residents to speak.

“It makes good sense to move forward with this in a good [financial] climate,” Karp said. “It's certainly favorable and will save the town money.”

Karp also thanked the Bikeways group, and legislators - past and present - who helped secure the funding.

“I whole-heartedly support this action,” Karp said. “I think this is a project that's been a long time in the making, and it's one that gives us access, safety, diverse uses, and hopefully, appreciation for nature. It's rare that we can find that many elements in one project.”

“This is a bit of bright news in some dark days for the economy that we're in,” said Councilman Bob Zanlungo. “I think $600,000, which will turn into three-quarters of this project being paid for by grants, is amazing.”

The land where the trail will be built was the subject of a public hearing back in April of 2007. At that meeting, many residents spoke against the idea of turning Addison Bog and Woodlands – designated as the official name of the area at that same meeting - into a park, and wanted little or no development of the area. But, there was support for one simple trail through the area.

At subsequent meetings, most residents supported the idea, citing the easier, safer connection to the center of town from eastern sections of Glastonbury.

The first 140 acres of the property was purchased in 1998, with smaller parcels, including the bog itself, added later. In 2001, a proposal to put a community center on the property was rejected. In 2004, the plot was considered for an elementary school.


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