PLAINVILLE - Tim Malone, Theresa Carr and Mark Jewell of the Farmington Heritage Canal Gap Closure Study presented again at a meeting Monday, Dec. 18.
Malone began by thanking residents for their ongoing participation in the study.
“We are grateful to have had 150 to 200 people come to our public meetings,” said Malone. “We’d be lucky to get that many people coming out for some regional projects.”
Malone then addressed some frequently raised concerns from residents. He said that according to research on trails, vandalism and crime decreased in proximity to trails due to more eyes being on the area. Property values, he said, usually see “small to medium increases” not decreases.
“If privacy is a concern there are a number of things we can do during the design phase to mitigate them,” he said. “We can put up fences or natural barriers like trees and shrubs.”
Malone said that environmental impacts will be minimized as much as possible but that Plainville has a lot of flood plain areas. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was contacted and they did not find serious concerns. The Army Corps of Engineers also had no major flooding concerns.
The historical mule haul trail, Malone said, could likely be enhanced by the trail.
“The trail is not in its historic shape right now,” he said. “Originally there were no trees on the path and much of it has been destroyed over time. This project could allow us to help preserve it. We have also spoken with the State Historic Preservation Office and they have no major concerns.”
Malone said traffic would likely increase only on weekends and not during peak commute times. There may be some property impacts, but they have tried to minimize these and said town officials would work with residents.
A draft final report will likely be presented at a date to be announced in February.
Bruce Donald, chair of the Connecticut Greenway Council, also attested that having a trail pass through a community will bring “dramatic changes” to town.
He said that they are “community builders” and are “self-policing.”
Police Chief Matt Catania said that he had “extensive experience” with the trail in Simsbury, where he previously served for more than 20 years.
“I have traveled up and down trails on foot and in my cruiser. I’m not saying that there aren’t a few incidents but these are not felony highways. The more good people that come to an area the less crimes there are. These are mostly athletes and people looking for recreation.”
Catania encouraged people to reach out to him for a “more robust conversation.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.