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Rosenthal Seeking Five Residents For Bike And Trail Panel

Published: October 06, 2018 at 07:30 am

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First Selectman Dan Rosenthal is planning to formalize a seven-member Newtown Bike and Trail Committee by early November and that will require the services of five resident volunteers who will serve beside representatives of the Conservation and the Parks & Rec commissions.

The first selectman introduced details of the Bike and Trail Committee concept to his board October 1 and is calling for any resident interested in participating to notify his office of their desire to serve by the end of the business day on Friday, October 26.

Residents can preferably e-mail their letter of interest to Executive Assistant Susan Marcinek (susan.marcinek@newtown-ct.gov) or drop their note in person to the First Selectman’s Office at Newtown Municipal Center during normal weekday business hours.

Mr Rosenthal told The Newtown Bee that seating the committee is the culmination of efforts that began early this year following an exploratory meeting on the subject hosted by Parks & Rec Director Amy Mangold.

The issue of maintaining and enhancing local walking and bike trails is also a key component of Newtown’s Healthy Community initiative, and was a subject of discussion during an April community meeting and brainstorming session held locally after Newtown was declared Connecticut’s second AARP Age-Friendly Livable Community.

According to documentation presented by Mr Rosenthal to fellow selectmen this week, the panel’s mission will be to support the development, maintenance, and enjoyment of an interconnected set of sidewalks, trails, and roadways for recreational and non-motorized transportation uses.

The committee will work to assure that Newtown is a community where sidewalks, trails, and roads provide a safe way for residents to travel, to connect with each other, and to enjoy both the town and the surrounding area by foot, bicycle, and on horseback.

The intention is to create and seat the committee as a permanent local body going forward. It would be established pursuant to Section 2-115(e) of the Newtown Charter. As such, all actions of the panel would be subject to approval by the Board of Selectmen.

The documentation lays out how the Bike and Trails Committee would initially address 15 specific goals:

*Promote accessibility and use of recreational trails for the residents of Newtown;

*Continue to prepare a comprehensive trail map of Newtown showing all public access, recreational trails, including town owned, as well as other organizations;

*Continue to develop a current “state of trails” information system in Newtown, more specifically town controlled land (number and location, have trails been established, have trails been mapped, etc);

*Establish an interconnected network of footpaths and trails that connects all areas of Newtown;

*Identify existing trails on public and private lands where possible, located within the town;

*Partner with the town, private landowners, and neighboring groups to identify appropriate uses for those trails and roads;

*Suggest the development of additional trails that might enhance a network of trails and roads;

*Work with landowners to determine an appropriate level of public or neighborhood use of the trails on their land;

*Encourage the maintenance of trails and roads for recreational use and establish methods of maintaining the system of trails through volunteer “trail stewards” trail work groups, etc;

*Develop and update a management plan for trails that are under town control;

*Coordinate and collaborate with other town and community organizations on trail development and maintenance;

*Develop multiuse trails to include bicycles and pedestrians, as well as other uses where deemed appropriate;

*Work cooperatively with other town departments, boards, commissions, and organizations to ensure that the committee can meet its goals;

*Develop a community outreach program which would solicit input and encourage support for the recreational Trails Program; and

*Seek appropriate funding and resources necessary to accomplish these goals.

To that end, Mr Rosenthal definitely sees an advantage for formulating the committee, as he believes it will better position both the panel and the town to seek and receive grant underwriting to deliver and/or maintain one or more of the aforementioned goals.

He mentioned that New Milford recently received $170,000 in state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) funding tied to the remediation of brownfield sites along a proposed Housatonic River Greenway trail.

Once the first selectman has received and reviewed all letters of interest, he and the board of selectmen will approve and seat its participating members.

To help advise and accomplish their work, the committee will be authorized to appoint ad hoc committees as needed to assist with special projects.

 

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