Controversy over proposed Greenway Trail

(WTNH/ Renee Chmiel)

GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It was a packed house at a public hearing Tuesday night as Guilford residents weighed in on a proposal to begin construction on the Shoreline Greenway Trail in town. While the overall plan for the trail is a 25-mile bike trail that will run from Madison to Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven, the portion being discussed on Tuesday is a 3,500 stretch along Route 1 in Guilford.

“We have tons of wonderful walking trails in town but we haven’t a single bike trail and it’s now 16 years later and we still don’t have a single bike trail in Guilford but we do in our three other towns,” said Pamela Simonds, co-chair of the Shoreline Greenway Trail.

Related Content: Proposed greenway trail receives mixed reactions from residents

Simonds says she began advocating for the trail when it was first proposed back in 2001. She says the trail will provide a safe place for bikers to navigate the towns that dot the shoreline.

Designers say the trail in Guilford will be built entirely on state land. Some of the trail will cross driveways and business entrances but town officials say they are working with property owners to address concerns.

Not everyone agrees with the plan. Rob Vavasour is a Guilford resident who started gathering signatures for a petition against it. As of Tuesday night Vavasour said they’ve collected more than 500. Vavosour says a lack of disclosure  and poorly defined plans have led many to question the project.

“Just complete confusion about what exactly is planned and there is a very unsettling kind of thing for people who are living in a town not to know something might be coming at them, quite literally,” said Vavasour.

At Tuesday’s meeting residents learned the project is expected to cost about $810-thousand. First Selectman Joseph Mazza says taxpayers will not have to pay a dime towards the plan as the town has been given about $875,000 in state and federal grants to cover the cost.

Mazza said no decision would be made at Tuesday’s meeting but hopes one will come in the next few weeks.

“If we hear some suggestions that maybe we want to make some tweaks to the design it might take a little longer. We’ll send it back to the engineering department,” said Mazza.

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