In the summer of 2001, several Guilford residents who love running and cycling realized that what was missing from the Shoreline was a trail on which to safely enjoy these pastimes. They tested the idea with a few other people, who embraced it enthusiastically. This small group came together as an affiliate of the Guilford Preservation Alliance, defining goals and developing a concept to present to the public.
We stepped out on our own, chose Shoreline Greenway Trail as our name and set construction of a 25-mile trail from Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven to Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison as our mission. We held our first public meeting to inform and engage the community in April 2002 and were excited to see about 120 people turn out. Many of those who came got behind the concept as passionately as our founders did.
We received a joint proclamation of support from the First Selectmen of Madison, Guilford and Branford, and the Mayor of East Haven (we weren’t working with the City of New Haven at the time). State legislators Ed Meyer, Pat Widlitz, Deborah Heinrich and Noreen Kokoruda have been strong supporters—as have Connecticut U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, and U.S. Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman.
We incorporated in December 2002 and received our 501c(3) designation as a nonprofit four months later. By then, we had more than 400 members and hundreds of volunteers. Our first groundbreaking, in East Haven, took place in October 2003, and our first trail section—on the grounds of the former D.C. Moore School—opened in 2005.
State Senator Ted Kennedy and State Representative Sean Scanlon picked up the ball from their predecessors and have been strong supporters and sage advisers.
Growing and Evolving
As a grassroots, all-volunteer organization, we’ve grown substantially over time while evolving our strategy. Thousands of SGT members, supporters and volunteers from the Shoreline and elsewhere have dedicated themselves to bringing this exciting and unique vision to fruition.
We’re encouraged that more than 3,000 Shoreline families, businesses and organizations have contributed financially to the effort, and that the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have invested in the project. To date, they’ve enabled us to raise $4.25 million in grants, bonding and donations for the trail.
From the beginning, we’ve been driven by a passion to better our communities—to make them safer, healthier, environmentally cleaner and more economically vital and liveable. Our goals have always been more than simply “building trail,” and over the years we’ve worked ever more explicitly on the project’s core connectivity, safety, health, environmental and economic goals: holding bike-safety rodeos for kids, promoting exercise in the form of guided walks and bike rides, providing fitness and education programs for schoolchildren, and working with towns to develop bike/ped networks that connect key places while improving safety and facilitating economic growth and tourism.
Timeline of Key Events
First meeting is held in Guilford
Town committees formed and concept adopted for a 25-mile trail route from New Haven to Madison
First public meeting held at Guilford Community Center with 120 people in attendance
State Rep. Pat Widlitz shares excitement for the project and pledges to notify constituents and suggest that her colleagues do likewise
First Selectmen of Madison, Guilford and Branford, and the Mayor of East Haven issue joint proclamation of support
Shoreline Greenway Trail is incorporated
Statements of support issued by U.S. Sens. Christopher Dodd and Joseph Lieberman, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection
Shoreline Greenway Trail gains approval for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status
First trail groundbreaking held in East Haven at Elliott Street behind D.C. Moore School
First fundraising campaign begins, yielding $14,000 in four months
Branford’s first Pine Orchard/Birch Road section completed
U.S. Department of Transportation awards three grants totaling $2.65 million for construction of the Shoreline Greenway Trail in East Haven, Branford, Guilford and Madison
East Haven’s D.C. Moore trail section completed
Fundraising total exceeds $100,000, not including U.S. grant
Branford’s Tilcon Road trail section completed
The towns of Madison, Guilford, Branford and East Haven approve the allocation of $20,000 each, satisfying a match for the federal grant
The Connecticut State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) grants $23,200 each to East Haven and Branford for construction of the Shoreline Greenway Trail
Connecticut State Bond Commission approves $665,000 in matching funds for federal grant
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield grants $100,000
Branford’s second Pine Orchard/Birch Road section completed
“First Saturday” program of walks and rides begins
Construction starts on first section of Hammonasset section in Madison
7,700 feet of contiguous trail completed in East Haven
East Haven’s D.C. Moore School section completed
First Hammonasset section in Madison opens
Extension of trail from Hammonasset Beach State Park to Webster Point Road in Madison completed
Shoreline Greenway Trail reaches innovative agreement with East Haven Public Schools to provide students with exercise and education
Connecticut DEEP awards Shoreline Greenway Trail $366,000 grant for trail sections in East Haven and Guilford
East Haven’s Farm River State Park section completed
City of New Haven agrees to connect its trail from downtown to the Shoreline Greenway Trail via the East Shore neighborhood
Town of Guilford paints sharrows (shared-lane markings) on Whitfield Street from downtown to the marina
Construction of the Tabor Trail section in Branford begins