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11/16/2015 11:00 PM

Shoreline Greenway Trail and East Haven Schools Form Partnership

East Haven Superintendent of Schools Dr. Portia Bonner and Shoreline Greenway Trail East Haven Chair Barbara Brow are excited about the possibilities of the recently signed partnership between the school district and the trail.

The East Haven Shoreline Greenway Trail (EHSGT) and the East Haven Public School District recently formed a school-business partnership with Barbara Brow, chairperson of the EHSGT, and Dr. Portia Bonner, superintendent of East Haven schools, signing the agreement.

“This agreement just solidifies a commitment between the school system and Shoreline Greenway Trail to serve as a resource to each other,” said Bonner. “The trail is a rich educational resource for science programs across all levels and can additionally be used as a venue for extracurricular events such as cross country, kids challenge, hiking, bike clubs, etc. The district, in return, can help to inform parents about the wonderful resource that is right in our backyard.”

With the partnership, students will be able use the trail for extracurricular activities, including cross-country, kids’ challenges, hiking, and more, as well as an educational resource.

“The district will use the trail as an educational and extracurricular resource,” said Brow. “It will also serve to inform parents and students about events of the Shoreline Greenway Trail.”

According to the agreement, the partnership “will enhance the opportunity for students to learn about the natural habitat and environment in which they live, contribute to the cleanup and preservation of the trail through community service, and utilize the trail as a source of recreation.”

The EHSGT is part of a larger project. The Shoreline Greenway Trail is a collaborative effort among the towns of New Haven, East Haven, Branford, Guilford, and Madison to establish a 25-mile trail along the Connecticut shoreline. A three-mile route of the trail runs through East Haven.

While the partnership will benefit both the EHSGT and East Haven schools, several other organizations and people have stepped up to help get the trail to where it is now. Brow noted that one of the biggest contributors has been Boy Scout Troop 401.

“They have cleared all of our segments,” said Brow. “We’re very fortunate to have their support.”

So far, the EHSGT, which has been incorporated since 2002, has finished several sections of trail through town, including a 1,500-foot section at DC Moore Elementary School complete with a parking area. The finished sections have been cleared, widened to 10 feet with two feet of shoulder on each side, and are topped with gravel and then granite.

“The trails are friendly for bikes, strollers, and even cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter,” said Brow.

EHSGT has received permission from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to pursue building the trail through Farm River State Park. The Boy Scouts have worked to clear much of that area, including access roads. The organization recently submitted a DEEP Recreational Trail Grant Application.

“We’re hoping to hear soon if we’ll be awarded the funds,” said Brow. “Our goal is to access grant monies and we’re hoping to eventually build a boardwalk to bring the trail right from the shore to DC Moore.”

Brow is excited to work toward these goals in partnership with East Haven Public Schools. The partnership will also allow students to fulfill community service hours by helping with the clearing of the trail and trail cleanups.

“We had four young men and a parent at our recent trail cleanup day,” said Brow. “We were quite happy to see the students come in.”

Bonner is also excited about the possibilities that partnership will offer the students in East Haven schools.

“Partnerships such as this help to strengthen and enrich core curriculum—what better way would a science teacher enhance a lesson on living things by exposing them to real life habitats outdoors?” said Bonner. “As we [the district] begin to embed the Next Generation Science Standards, we plan to develop project-based lessons that utilize the trail in our studies on ecosystem, diversity, interaction of systems, and engineering and design. The trail will become an extension of the classroom.”