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A leisurely walk through the woods could soon be a little bit better.
Both the town Land Use Agency and Parks and Recreation Department are hosting “Paths to Newtown: a trails collaboration meeting” on Tuesday, April 24, at 7:30 pm, in the Council Chambers at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street. Anyone interested in Newtown’s trail systems is welcome to attend, and according to a recent flyer, “We want your input. Let’s collaborate to connect existing trails and improve the system throughout town.”
Recreation Director Amy Mangold said the discussion is about “all trails, any organization in Newtown that owns trails. We hope any trail partner in our community will get involved.”
Past efforts to organize trails committees to “try to get projects off the ground” has proved a “difficult endeavor,” she said. For some reason, past efforts “did not stick.”
“What really refreshed the idea,” she said, was when former First Selectman Pat Llodra, through AARP, came to Ms Mangold with the idea of age-friendly communities, with a focus on outdoor spaces and buildings. “She spoke with me [and Land Use Deputy Directory Rob Sibley], asking about what was going on with trails,” she said.
“A light bulb went off,” Ms Mangold said. “We have not heard much from the past trails crew” of volunteers improving Newtown trails she said. She reached out to one volunteer for feedback.
Subsequent conversations led to the idea of the meeting on April 24.
“We planned ‘Paths to Newtown’ to get us all together and talk about trails systems and what they provide for Newtown, and improving our outdoor spaces,” Ms Mangold said. “We want to open dialogue and get this going again.”
Land Use Deputy Director Rob Sibley said, “This is a collaborative… we found that there was a common theme between Land Use and Park and Rec, and we thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to hold an open forum for networking.” He added, “We chose to cast the net as wide as possible,” inviting the community to “share their hopes, what has worked in the past, and form a network.
“This meeting is not about town projects, but [all] Newtown projects — anyone who does work on the town trails. The goal is to have folks communicate better” regarding trails, he added.
“We want to be a forum for all groups who have an interest in trails in Newtown,” Mr Sibley said.
This is not a municipal event. Mr Sibley said, “We have reached out to committees and agencies and residents, state groups like DEEP, nonprofits, businesses, regional organizations.”
The meeting is “our first time trying something like this, and I envision this being an annual process where we can rely on networking a little more each year, and celebrate one others’ successes. It’s exciting,” Mr Sibley said.