By Lindsay Carey
The Farmington Valley Trails Council publicly announced their commitment to fill the gap in Plainville and Southington on the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, which spans from New Haven to North Hampton, MA.
The FVTC recently sponsored a bike ride on the trail in order to highlight the gaps in the 85 mile trail. The bike riders took one of their breaks in Plainville.
During the break, president of FVTC and chairman of the CT Greenways Council Bruce Donald “pledged the full effort of the FVTC to fill the gap in Southington and Plainville,” according to a press release.
Some Plainville Town Council members also shared their support in bridging the gap.
“We want to be known as the town that filled the last gap in the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail,” said Town Council Chair Kathy Pugliese, according to a press release.
Plainville Greenway Alliance member Pete Salamone said that the motivation behind bridging the gap in Plainville comes from other projects along the trail.
“There are projects going on in Cheshire, Farmington, and Southington, which should all be completed by the end of 2017,” said Salamone. “Since plans are underway to complete everywhere but Plainville, they’re beginning to look at it as the last piece missing.”
PGA, which has been partnered with the FVTC for about five years, is a group of Plainville residents that have been spurring the effort to fill this gap for many different reasons.
Salamone said that in its current state, the gap in Plainville is one of the most difficult parts of the trail.
“A lot of riders will ride a long distance on the trail and get to Plainville and say they’ve done enough and turn back,” said Salamone.
He also suggested that bridging the gap on such a lengthy trail could encourage riders to stay overnight in Plainville.
“When you have a long trail, people stay over night and start spending money,” said Salamone.
According to Salamone, most long distance riders are spending $10 to $20 per person as they ride through different communities. If they decide to make it a weekend trip, it could bring in over $100 between a hotel, dinner, breakfast and snacks for the road.
“It’s all to the benefit of our economy when this trail gets completed,” said Salamone.
With the support of the FTVC and the Town Council, PGA is working on getting some kind of funding to support this project.
However, Salamone said the first step is to get a preliminary design to decide where in town the trail will go. The railroad in Plainville is still active, so it couldn’t be a rail trail, but there are other options.
Salamone said the trail could cut through Norton Park to Town Line Road by possibly using Jackson Way. He also said it would be beneficial for the trail to go through the center of town using a protected bike lane.
“This could encourage families to use the trail more because they would feel safe bringing their kids out riding,” said Salamone.
Cyclists in Plainville typically have to ride on the streets because there is currently no real bike trail in town.
Once the design is finished, PGA will work with the Town of Plainville, the Town of Southington, and the FVTC to apply for a grant.
The group once before applied for a grant to supplement this project and was denied.
By Lindsay Carey