BROOKFIELD, Conn. -- Looking to take a walk, run or bike ride in the Town of Brookfield — but don't want to worry about crossing busy roads? You can now do so -- on the town's new Still River Greenway.
The Still River Greenway consists of a 2-mile, 10-foot-wide paved path along the Still River from Route 133 in Brookfield to the Southern Four Corners.
At a weekend ribbon-cutting for the project, a crowd turned out of about 100 people, including Brookfield Parks and Recreation Enhancement Council President Jay Annis, State Rep. Stephen Harding and Brookfield First Selectman Stephen C. Dunn.According to Dennis DiPinto, Brookfield's Parks and Recreation Director, the project took 16 years from concept to completion.
“We have an impressive 170-foot clear span prefabricated pedestrian bridge along with several other wetland crossings," DiPinto said.
"This project was a home run from day one. It’s a tremendous thing," he said. "It's changing this town right our eyes for the better."
The Greenway seems to have met a need in the town. "Brookfield has no sidewalks at all. People are now meeting at the Greenway to have lunch and walk their dogs," DiPinto said. "There are four different rest stops with multiple benches at each one."
The budget was a bit less than $3 million. "We received $2.5 million in grants from Federal Transportation Enhancement Funding, and our town matched 20 percent of the project cost, paying $500,000 for it," he said.
Before the construction, which took a year, the southern end was a single track dirt trail and the northern end didn’t exist, according to DiPinto.
The idea was first conceived in 2000, when the Town of Brookfield conducted a Residents Needs Assessments study.
A mail survey sample was sent to part of the population in town. “We asked things like 'provide an assessment of your existing facilities' and asked folks what they might want to see in the future," DiPinto said.
The overwhelming response was for a paved multi-use greenway, he said.
“This was a scientific study, which led the way to really developing and following through on the plan," DiPinto said.
Studies have shown that the economic benefit Greenways have on towns is immeasurable. "Greenways across the country absolutely increase people's property values and makes the town more desirable," DiPinto said. "There is an increase in commerce and in economic vitality.
"This project ties into the Four Corners area of Brookfield. We expect this will help jumpstart the four corners downtown area," he said.
A total of 20,000 to 30,000 people are expected to use the greenway in its first year.
The long-term goal is to link the greenway to New Milford and Danbury, according to DiPinto.
There are no plans to provide winter maintenance on the trail.