An Open Letter to Guilford Friends and Neighbors

img_6849Shoreline Greenway Trail supports the proposal to build a 7/10-mile, off-road bike and pedestrian trail on state property beside Route 1 between the East River Bridge and Boston Street. Questions have been raised about the project, and we’d like to clear up any misunderstandings. As members of Shoreline Greenway Trail’s Guilford team, we are your neighbors. We want to work openly and collaboratively with the community to make Guilford a safer and more bike-, pedestrian- and wheelchair-friendly place. Here are some things we think you should know:

The proposed Route 1 section is an ideal opportunity that could be lost.

This section of trail will allow Guilford residents and visitors to more safely walk, run, bike or travel by wheelchair between eastern Guilford near the Madison line and the Calvin Leete School, the center of town, the fairgrounds, the harbor and beyond. It will contribute positively to safety, public health, air quality, economic vitality and quality of life in Guilford for generations.

The proposed section will be built completely off-road adjacent to Route 1, on state-owned right-of-way. The project is fully funded with state and federal grants, requiring no town money. Most approvals are in place. Maintenance costs to the town will be near zero, since the attractive, pink Stony Creek granite hard surface will have a decades-long life span, no snow will be removed and Shoreline Greenway Trail volunteers will perform routine maintenance.

There are some in Guilford who seek to delay construction of the Route 1 section until an entire route of a Shoreline Greenway Trail in Guilford has been mapped, designed and approved. The proposed section is a worthy project on its own merits and shouldn’t be confused with or folded into consideration of possible future projects elsewhere in town.

Because of deadlines on the state and federal funds that will pay for construction, any significant delay in approval of this trail section will put the project at risk, as those funds could be reallocated to benefit some other town. We must go forward now.

 

We are committed to bike and pedestrian safety and mobility. We do not want to build a trail where it is inappropriate.

Shoreline Greenway Trail has been working openly with the town, landowners and neighbors with the goal of improving bike and pedestrian safety and access for all members of the community: kids, adults, seniors, walkers, runners, cyclists, dog walkers, wheelchair users where possible, parents with strollers and others.

In the beginning, our focus was on a continuous trail between Madison and New Haven. We have evolved along with community needs, desires and expectations, with government priorities and public funding challenges. The solution to safe and accessible walking and biking will likely involve a combination of approaches and perhaps not a single, continuous trail. In Guilford, our conversations with landowners have shown that building a continuous, off-road trail across town may be an impossibility—and that’s OK. Our priority is to be catalysts for safer and better facilities for users of non-motorized transportation in harmony with what Guilford residents want.

Segments of trail such as the one appreciated by so many Shoreline residents at Hammonasset Beach State Park are part of the solution. So, too, are bike lanes, traffic calming measures and other things that safely connect key neighborhoods, the town center, schools, the harbor, bus stops and train stations, ball fields and other recreational and commercial destinations.

 

There is no plan for a Shoreline Greenway Trail in Guilford beyond the Route 1 section—for good reason.

There is no secret, master plan or settled route for a Shoreline Greenway Trail through Guilford. Because there is no abandoned rail line on which to build, bike and pedestrian improvements, including off-road trail sections, can only be made incrementally over time. We are advocating for these in partnership with the community—working with neighbors and the town to co-develop solutions and to support the town’s implementation of them only after listening to and addressing residents’ concerns and gaining their approval. This is how the Route 1 project arrived at this point.

We have spent years exploring possible paths, talking informally and privately with property owners about access. The South Central Regional Council of Governments commissioned a preliminary study to explore hypothetical routes. Neither the preliminary study nor these conversations represent plans for future trail sections. Shoreline Greenway Trail has been aboveboard, respected residents’ concerns and landowners’ privacy, and openly followed all town, state and federal procedures.

We welcome the input of everyone and are eager to hear your constructive ideas about how to make Guilford more pedestrian-, bike- and wheelchair-friendly.

 

We do not support eminent domain.

As we have continuously demonstrated in our conversations with landowners and the town, we are community-minded people who understand concerns about setbacks, privacy, property rights and property values. We have not supported and do not support the use of eminent domain for building any trail.

 

We urge you to support the proposal for the Shoreline Greenway Trail section on Route 1. After years of effort, this trail section is ready to build—and with Board of Selectmen approval, Planning & Zoning signoff and a final state review, it will be ready to put out to bid.

If you believe that Guilford needs the kind of safe pedestrian and bicycling environment provided in part by this Route 1 project, please come out and express your support at a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at the Guilford Community Center.

Sign our online petition at www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/Guilford-trail-support. Show your support on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms, using #bikesafeguilford. Send an email to the Board of Selectmen at brinkmant@guilford.ct.us and request that they vote Yes to building the Route 1 trail section without delay. Contact us at Guilford@shorelinegreenwaytrail.org if you have questions.

Thank you for your support. Together, we can make Guilford a more bike-, pedestrian- and wheelchair-friendly place.

40 Cyclists Join Guilford-to-Madison Ride

SGT Guilford Bike 1

Pam Bisbee-Simonds, far right, organized the ride and welcomed cyclists to the starting point at Guilford Harbor.

SGT Guilford Bike 2

The boat launch at Madison’s Circle Beach, where riders shared conversation before setting off for their 4th of July weekends.

Some 40 bicyclists of all ages came out on a beautiful holiday-weekend morning for a Shoreline Greenway Trail-sponsored ride from Guilford Harbor to the boat launch at Madison’s Circle Beach on Saturday, July 2.

The 7.5-mile (one way), course took us from the harbor up Whitfield Street to Stone House Lane, where we turned eastward to pass the Guilford Fairgrounds via Lovers Lane to Boston Street. As we reached Boston Post Road, we noted the site of the soon-to-be-built first section of Guilford trail and picked up Route 1, crossed the East River Bridge at the Madison line and rode to Neck Road, where we turned south for the rest of the trip to the boat launch. Because a number of riders were from Madison, we parted company there and rode in small groups back to our original destinations. We made many new friends!

The event was the latest in SGT’s First Saturday series of walks and bike rides, intended to encourage people to get outdoors and get some exercise, and to promote safe biking and walking and environmentally beneficial transportation. The next First Saturday event, scheduled for August 6, will be a 1.5-mile walk on the Shoreline Greenway Trail in East Haven, featuring a scenic hike into Farm River State Park. It starts at 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the D.C. Moore School.

Your Dog Will Dig Our August ‘First Saturday’ Walk

 

Chelsea Anderson and Bella at her first parade, celebrating Guilford's Centennial (2014).

Chelsea Anderson and Bella at her first parade, celebrating Guilford’s Centennial (2014).

Saturday, August 1st, 9:00 am, Guilford.  (Please note SGT walk postcard listed incorrect date.)  Hike with your dog!  Grab your best four legged friend and join us for a hike at the East River Preserve, a 583-acre conservation area purchased by the Town of Guilford in 2009. We’ll hit the Blue Trail, which goes through open meadows and tree covered trails. Dogs must be on leash and socialized to walk with other animals. Please bring water for you and your pet and don’t forget poop bags. Meet by the bridge at the end of Sullivan Drive. Parking is limited so please car pool. Contact: Jo-Anne Basile, jbasile06437@gmail.com.

 

* TODAY BIKE RIDE CANCELLED- Nov. 1st, in Guilford due to winds and rain

Staying cool, cyclists on the way to Lake Quonnipaug on a Shoreline Greenway Trail's First Saturday Bike and Hike, July 6Join us on Saturday, November 1st at 10 am for a bike ride from the Guilford town green to Lake Quonnipaug. SGT leader Terry Maguire will lead an easy, mostly flat 18 mile round trip ride up State Street past historic homes, along Little Meadow Rd and South Hoop Pole Rd to loop around the lake, with two route options, and a short stretch on narrow Route 77.  Helmets required; waivers will be provided to sign. Parking available around the Green. Meet on east side of Town Green across from Town Hall. For info call Terry at 203-214-4744