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Fans of Clinton’s new greenway and blueway trails can show their appreciation by attending the Picnic and Paddle on the Blueway fundraiser from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 11 at Indian River Marina and Kayak.
The Shoreline Greenway Trail was envisioned as a way to connect the shoreline from Madison to New Haven with a dedicated, paved trail for pedestrians and cyclists. In 2016, a group of Clinton citizens proposed adding a trail in Clinton, using existing roadways rather than a standalone trail.
The Clinton path will wind through the downtown and town historic areas. The trail will also feature a “blue way” that will link the bike path with kayak rental locations in the marina area, allowing visitors to explore the town’s shoreline.
Tickets to the event cost $35 and are limited to the first 60 who sign up. The event will feature food, music, and an opportunity to get into the water and paddle. Carrie Allen, the chairperson of the Bike and Pedestrian Alliance of Clinton (BPAC), said that the money from the event will go to helping pay for some needed work that has to be done on portions of the trail.
“We still need to get some stone dust, signage, and some striping done in some areas,” Allen said.
Allen said that there are greenway signs already up, but a few more are needed for areas where the trail changes directions. The stone dust will be used on an area behind Town Hall to provide a better surface for riders and pedestrians to ride on before the route heads back out to Route One.
Allen credited Police Chief Vincent DeMaio and Department of Public Works employee Bob Voss for being especially helpful with their input on helping tweak the trail.
Allen said that she was excited for the trail to take advantage of the blueway, which is a unique aspect of the trail in Clinton.
“Indian River is a good spot, it’s very calm water there,” said Allen.
Allen said that there are four locations along the trail for kayakers to access the blueway: behind the Town Hall, at the Town Beach, and at Harborside Marina and Indian River Marina. The two marinas have kayaks available for rental, while the other two locations require users to bring their own kayaks.
“There are people who have never been kayaking in this town, even though we’re right on the water,” Allen said, noting that the event would allow for some people to paddle the blueway for the first time.
Allen said that credit for the event should go to Chris Burke of Indian River Marina, who offered the site for the fundraiser.
“It was perfect because he’s on the blueway. He’s been a supporter from the beginning,” said Allen.
Allen said that BPAC had been considering doing a fundraiser anyway, and that Burke’s offer was a chance to make the fundraiser a reality.
“It’s a perfect thing to actually be able to get on the blueway, as opposed to just being behind Town Hall,” said Allen.
“Carrie has put in a Herculean effort to get this approved over the years,” said Burke. “People should go come out to support the greenway and blueway. It’s a beautiful spot to get out and paddle.”
While efforts to make the greenway trail a reality in other towns along the shoreline have had mixed results, BPAC was asked by the Clinton Board of Selectmen to begin seriously exploring the idea for the trail in early 2017, and the board approved the plan in 2018.
In May, the Connecticut Council of Greenways recognized Clinton’s trail as an officially recognized state trail.
“Any time you see a list of trails—let’s say when you’re planning a trip—our trail will appear that list,” Allen said.
Allen hopes that being listed as a state trail will bring additional visitors to Clinton to potentially spend money in Clinton businesses. Allen credits the other members of BPAC with helping to see through the project: Hal Tzeutschler, Mark Koschwitz, Maureen Noonan, Ginnie Simmons, Paul Egan, and Niko Clados.
The trail was not funded by taxpayers, and money for the signs was raised through donations. As part of an eagle scout project, Allen said a kiosk inside which BPAC could place trail maps and information will be constructed at the Town Beach.
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