Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Great Ledge" Property Purchased!!

Whoohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We just took title to the last property needed to complete the Rec Path. We are doing a happy dance! Known as "Great Ledge" on deeds going back as far as 1914, the 13-acre property does indeed have a substantial ledge cliff, maybe 50 feet high. There is also a very big swamp, powerlines, and the Iroquois gasline. It's not a great place to build houses, which is why it cost only $190,000, but it's a perfect place to build the Rec Path. The photo above shows the utility road that will be resurfaced for the Rec Path.

The property is located off the end of Oak Valley Road Extension, a narrow asphalt road that connects to Nells Rock Road near Hope Lake. Here's a map showing the property location in the Shelton Lakes Greenway. And here's the Tax Assessor's map with more detail. The photo above shows more of the utility road as it approaches Oak Valley Road. The Conservation Commission has been actively pursuing acquisition of this property since 2005, so it's been a very long process. This is a real milestone, because Rec Path users can now go all the way from Pine Lake to Huntington Center on the Rec Path (well, a temporary detour onto Oak Valley Road and we'll need some signs showing people where to go...soon, soon). Forget the "Bridge-to-Bridge" route, this is the real deal!

The utility road is pretty easy to walk or ride a bike on except for this one muddy spot. The Trails Committee was already working on plans to fill in this spot for our September 24 Rec Path Celebration, but Irene has given the Committee a lot of unexpected trail clearing to do.

The best way to see this property right now is from the south. Follow the Rec Path off of Wesley Drive north to the powerline and there it is to the left. From L'Hermitage/Chordas Pond on Nells Rock Road, follow Nells Rock Trail to the powerlines and turn right. When you get to that mudhole, that's more or less the beginning of the Great Ledge piece. It's harder to see from the north at this time because there are no signs indicating where the property is (yet) and we don't want people straying onto nearby private property. Also, Irene left a great big tree right over the gate and you can't even see it's there.

Better yet -- join our Rec Path Celebration on Saturday, September 24, at noon. We'll take you along the new route on bike or by foot, stopping in Huntington Center for refreshments.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


For the second year in a row, the Shelton Trails Committee organized a day's-end hike, starting at Huntington Center at the foot of Lane Street, moving along the Recreation Path to as far as it is completed on the Huntington end, and onto the section still under construction, ending at the power lines. In spite of a confusion of starting times and duration, an enthusiastic group put their lives in our hands for an enjoyable, and different, guided hike.

Participants are briefed on the route, destination, and logistics of the hike. In other words, we're going from here to there, bring water and bug juice! And don't get lost!

This was an opportunity to meet new people, and pooches.

And they're off! Terrance talks the wary group into following him into what could prove to be a harrowing experience, trekking into the unknown. Not to worry, as Terrance has been on this same tour at least once, and has only suffered minor bruises and an insignificant bear mauling.

Although not a scripted part of the tramp, folks seemed to be lured by the scenic Means Brook flowing under this bridge on Lane Street. Several inches of rain the past few days had brought the streams and brooks back to life.

Terrance leads the tail end of the group through the always-enchanting Shelton Land Trust's Lane Street meadow, home to deer, hawks, and assorted critters, many of which can often be seen especially around dawn and dusk.

At the high end of the meadow, Teresa's newly planted walnut tree was declared "Off Limits" to deer, bear, and curious passers-by.

At this point we entered the woods, and it was not long before twilight became darkness. While there was still some natural light, however, the hardy group continued on over the Rec Path, through Huntington Woods, and onto the as yet unfinished section under construction. Braving protruding roots and toe-stubbing rocks, we were able to follow the rough path to its convergence with the power lines, where we stopped to collect survivors just as it became necessary to turn on our flashlights, glow-sticks, and burning torches. We marched back in the dark, stopping occasionally to listen to the eerie howling of a lovesick coyote, or was that a werewolf? Shucks, it was just someone's cellphone ring-tone! Needless to say, we made it back to our starting point, and a head count assured us that any grizzlies or mountain lions will have to go hungry for another night.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Twilight Hike Tonight - maybe

Tonight is the night for our August 16th Twilight Hike, lets see if the weather cooperates.

No, No - not that twilight. There will be no vampires or werewolves along the RecPath (we think). But do bring your flashlights, glow sticks, head lamps, lanterns, torches, etc. because we will be coming back in the dark and you never know what you might see. This is a good hike for families and kids.

We're going to leave from the shopping center at 90 Huntington St. at 7:30 and go up Lane Street along the new sections of the RecPath through Huntington Woods and beyond. Bring shoes and boots that can get muddy. Hopefully it'll stop raining, but at least the water should be up in Basil Brook. We might even stop at the Huntington St. Cafe afterwards. It should be fun - see you there.

Bella, Edward, Jacob, Edward, Jacob, Bella, Jacob, Bella, Edward ........

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lane Street Spruce Up

We had a work party yesterday on the RecPath at Lane St. in Huntington Center in preparation of the Twilight Hike this coming Tuesday.

Here's Jim Taradine removing a pile of yard waste that somebody dumped in front of the Path entrance. Come On - do we really need to clean up after goobers? Is it that hard to have a compost pile on your lot? If you don't want it on your property take the brush to the grinder at the Transfer Station on River Road. Don't use our City park as a dumping ground.

Here's the Before Picture. The brush likes to grow along the entry where it gets a lot of sun and water.

The 8 foot wide RecPath was reduced in width so it limited passage. We had a lot of nice customers go by, including a number of families with future trail fans. There seem to be a lot more baby carriages on the Path now that the new sections are being completed.

Bill Donofrio was a big help, particularly with clearing some of the taller stuff that dangling down into the Path.

People spread out along the Path doing various tasks. Sheri is using the new trail mower that Rich's friend just donated to the Trails Committee.

Big Trails Thank You: to John Loughran (Rich's pal), and Joel Horton (Bill's buddy) for the kind donation of a lawnmower, shovels, rakes, hedge trimmer, and other instruments of brushy destruction. Your gifts have found a good home and will be put to good use.

Bill Dyer got himself coated with a fine blend of brush spackle using the weedwhacker.

Jim & Rich mowed the edges of the Path with the our trail mower. It saves a lot of time in the open areas. Now if only we can get them to smile when a camera is pointed in their direction.

There were a number of native plants in flower, particularly near the boardwalk. This is Joe-Pye Weed. The boardwalk lets you see wetland species that you normally couldn't see without getting soaked. Stop and take a look as you pass through.

Speaking of boardwalk, Bill cleaned up the edges of the RecPath out to the end of the Land Trust Meadow and back.

And this is the "After" picture of the RecPath looking toward the little meadow. We had a lot of people thank us for the hot work, now all we need are a few more volunteers like Bill. The more people that show up to work really helps make a difference.

Here's some more happy customers at the end of the work party as we were cleaning up. We cleared from Wesley Drive down to Lane Street. Come out Tuesday night on the Twilight Hike (bring flashlights) and see the RecPath for yourself. It should be fun for kids of all ages.

The RecPath has reached the Powerlines!

The next section of the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path reached some major construction milestones this week. The Pruzinsky/Fairview Team crossed the Iroquois Gas Pipeline & reached the powerlines!

The RecPath base was constructed out from the Crab Apple Drive bridge northward toward the Abby Wright open space. This section will link up with the Knells Loop Trail that goes over to Nells Rock Road by the L'Hermitage Condos. The contractor is using road millings from the recent roadwork on Buddington Road as a base. The millings will be covered with filter fabric and fine gravel.

They are cutting and chipping as they go to have a very narrow corridor of disturbance out to the powerlines. This section goes through some rugged terrain and will feature some great views of wetlands and cliffs later this fall.

They used steel plates to distribute the load of construction equipment, and smaller machinery when working over the gas pipeline. The work was scheduled so an inspector from Iroquois could be there while the construction was taking place.

Next week should see clean up, more base, adding some drainage pipes, & then the finish course should start going down!

Come to our Twilight Hike this Tuesday and see the work for yourself. Look for more exciting RecPath news in the coming weeks, and pencil in Sept. 24th on your calendar (tentative) for a little RP celebration.

Summer Mowing

Summer is the time for mowing. One of the great things about Shelton is that we're created miles of interesting trails for walking, hiking, and biking. Unfortunately, the brush & hay keeps growing and all those miles of trail need maintaining. Particularly those trails along the powerlines north of Rt. 108 and the new sections of the Blue Dot Trail. And while we don't have a scythe like Homer Winslow's "Veteran in a New Field" above. We do have Rich & Jim who were out on August 5th with the Gator and the DR Field Mower.

The guys tracked their path using GPS and plotted it on an air photo. You may want to click on the picture to enlarge it and get a better view. They got a lot done for 2 guys in one day. Technology is wonderful. Maybe Homer would've painted a different picture if he was still working today. Happy trails.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

1996 Shelton Lakes Article: A Close Call

As the Rec Path construction nears completion, let's take a look back. I just ran across this article from the Huntington Herald dated January 1996 that talks about how the water company was looking to sell 238 acres along Shelton Avenue and Nells Rock Road. A developer had already drafted up plans to build a few hundred condos and houses along with some retail, including a gas station, where the Dog Park now sits. By this time, the Conservation Commission had already drawn up plans for a handicapped-accessible Rec Path to run from downtown Shelton to Huntington Center, and was working to persuade City leaders and residents to buy the property for open space, recreation, and a new school. (Depending on your browser, you may need to click the article TWICE to enlarge).

The City was receptive to Conservation's goal, and the land purchase went to referendum in 1997. It passed by a wide margin and the land became the core of the Shelton Lakes Greenway.

Over the years, other properties have been added to the Greenway, which now encompasses over 450 acres. Instead of condos and a gas station, we have fishing, hiking, the Rec Path, Dog Park, a new school & ballfields, a community garden, and Eklund Native Species Garden. And the purchase LOWERED taxes over the long run, since residential areas require more in government services than they pay in taxes. Win-Win-Win!

Friday, August 5, 2011

PerkinElmer is Awesome

PerkinElmer's "For the Better" program resulted in three days of crews like this one spreading woodchips along the newly constructed Rec Path AND two days of crews picking up litter along Isinglass and Booth Hill Roads (40 bags total). And we like the matching shirts.