Sunday, November 27, 2011

Take a Trot

It's beautiful weather for this late in the Fall - so get outside.

This family was one of many out enjoying the Nells Loop Trail this morning. It's a little muddy in spots but most of the blow downs have been cleared.

The Trails Committee was out yesterday blowing off the Turkey Trot Trail & clearing some remaining blow downs in preparation for this afternoon's guided hike. Join us at 1:00 on Constitution Boulevard North near the High School Driveway.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reverse "TIMBERRRR!!!"

This time of the year, it's not unusual to see members of the Shelton Trails Committee and volunteers doing the much beloved leaf-blowing and raking along the various Shelton trails and the Rec Path. This year we had the additional task of clearing blow-downs from the tropical storm and the early snowfall. Mostly it's been a matter of pushing aside fallen branches and chainsawing the larger limbs that had obstructed the path. The Boehm Pond Trail, accessed from Far Mill Street, was in need of some work.
Click on photos to enlarge

We started the day clearing leaves and brush, occasionally having to do some heavy-duty cutting and moving of the larger blow-downs.

Whoa! A monster tree had been uprooted right across our trail, and there was no easy way to bypass it!

Bill ponders the situation. Should we cut down, or up? There was a chance the the chainsaw could get pinched and irretrievable (temporarily, at least) if we cut the wrong way. Bill correctly concluded that we should cut downward.

Rich is about to cut through the last inch when, BOING!, the trunk, now topless, snaps back to a position of attention!

The weight of the root ball was enough to bring the trunk, now minus the weight of the rest of the tree, back to its original position.

Job well done, everybody go home!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Frugal Yankees Build a Rec Path

So far, the Rec Path has cost just $169,000 per mile to build, with most of that money coming from outside sources like grants. Compare that to some other similar projects in the region, such as the Ansonia River Walk, which is reported to have been built for about $1,000,000, and it's only 2/3 of a mile long. That works out to about $1.5 million per mile, nearly ten times the cost of our Rec Path!

We're cheap. Go ahead and say it. But when your project doesn't qualify for the huge multimillion dollar grants like the regional riverwalks, you have to be. Regional planning allows each town to priorize one path for the big federal bucks, and the Shelton River Walk got the top priority, leaving the Conservation Commission to scrounge around for alternative ways to build the Rec Path. 

How did Shelton build the Path at such a low cost?

First of all, it's not paved. The original plans called for a paved Rec Path, and the first section built was paved (by the schools), but it's a lot more expensive to pave a path, and we received repeated feedback from people who didn't want it paved, so why bother? Asphalt is good for rollerblades, but hard on walkers and joggers, and it has a more urban feel that people didn't want at Shelton Lakes.

Second, volunteers did a huge amount of the work. The route layout, planning, permitting, project management, cutting down trees, bridge building, sign kiosks, edge dressing and more were done by volunteers. If it could be done by a volunteer, it was.

Third, Parks &  Rec staff did some of the machine work, grading, cutting trees, spreading asphalt millings for a base, and dropped off woodchips for the side dressing. This was typically done during their slow time in late fall to early spring.

Fourth, we used asphalt millings as a base for much of the trail. Saved money on construction supplies.

Fifth, some of the work that was contracted out was at an extremely low price by local residents willing to give us a great deal to help out the community. Barry Mucci essentially worked 'at cost' to construct the Lane Street section. Fairview Tree Farm and Pruzinsky & Son bid the work at half the cost of other contractors. Our logo was designed at a cut rate by Pete Stockmal.

Here's a run down of our funding (click to enlarge):

Click to enlarge

3.5 miles done, 0.5 miles to go! I must leave you now to go work on a grant application.