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Create the 1st Mile of the Merritt Parkway Trail - a 38-Mile Multi-use Trail and Greenway
We support the creation of a 38-mile multi-use public trail and greenway stretching from Greenwich to Stratford, CT. The trail would run through the woods within the 150-foot wide right-of-way owned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation on the south side (northbound) of the beautiful and iconic Merritt Parkway. It would be a safe and wheelchair accessible paved trail for recreation and transportation to be enjoyed by families, runners, walkers, cyclists, cross country skiers, dog walkers, and nature lovers. KEY BENEFITS OF THE TRAIL: creates a safe east-west route for recreation and transportation through congested southwestern CT abates pollution and noise by replacing automobile trips creates a wheelchair accessible trail for exercise for runners, walkers, cyclists, dog walkers, rollerbladers, and cross country skiers enables users to enjoy the beauty of CT and the Merritt Parkway’s historic bridges and landscape creates tourist destinations and sources of economic development closes the gap in an essential piece of the 3,000-mile, Maine to Florida, East Coast Greenway creates a popular recreational amenity and builds community encourages bicycling and walking (alternative modes of transportation) between residential, commercial and recreational areas, employment centers, shopping, a university and schools, all located along the length of the Merritt Parkway ECONOMIC BENEFITS: Studies of other trails (see link below) have shown that the tourist revenue over time exceeds the cost of construction the trail. The studies also show that the property values of homes increase if they are located closer to the trail which is viewed as a special amenity. Furthermore, homes for sale located closer to trails have been shown to sell more rapidly than those further away. Surveyed realtor organizations in many locations around the country profess that they actively use nearby trails to promote property sales. An example in Connecticut is that owners of homes along the Farmington Valley Trail have in fact asked that barriers that were initially installed, be taken down so that they can more easily enjoy the trail. We understand that the payback is long term, but the intangible benefits are substantial and immediate. HEALTH BENEFITS: It is well known that the rates of obesity and diabetes are growing dramatically in this country. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle contributes to this epidemic. What is most disturbing is that these issues are showing up increasingly in our children. Having a safe off-road place for families to ride so children can learn to enjoy experiences that can keep them active for their whole lives can help reverse this trend. In fact, a 2005 study concludes that every $1 investment in trails for physical activity led to $3 in direct medical benefits. TRANSPORTATION BENEFITS: It is also well documented that one of the significant inhibitors to the future growth of the State of Connecticut is our clogged roadways. There are a significant number of corporate employers along the Merritt Parkway in towns such as Stamford, Norwalk and Fairfield. Over time, as our car dependent culture changes, more people will find it advantageous to travel via bicycle to work. This will be further enhanced by connections to MetroNorth train stations at Talmadge Hill in New Canaan and Merritt/7 in Norwalk and connects to bike lanes such as the Norwalk River Valley Trail, the Pequonnock River Trail in Bridgeport and proposed bike lanes on High Ridge Road in Stamford. Existing commuter parking lots also provide parking spaces for those driving to the trail. Total usage should be substantial in this dense area of the state as evidenced by the fact that the Farmington Valley Trail in northern Connecticut has more than 300 thousand users per year. QUALITY OF LIFE: In 1987, President Reagan’s Commission on American Outdoors recommended the establishment of a national "network of greenways to provide people with access to open spaces close to where they live, and to link together the rural and urban open space in the American landscape." The Merritt Parkway Trail, which is part of the more extensive East Coast Greenway, will bring this vision alive for us all to enjoy. The establishment of the trail calls for bringing back plants and trees native to Connecticut replacing the invasive species in the right of way. It will be built in a way that compliments the historic nature of the Merritt Parkway. When Trail systems have been formally studied using user surveys, crime data, and reports from nearby property owners, trails have been universally shown to add to the quality of life for local citizens. We see this trail as the spine which will connect a network of trails throughout the towns of Fairfield County for the benefit of all who want to live, work and play here. Link to Referenced Studies: http://bit.ly/TrailStudies We ask that you support the construction of the Merritt Parkway Trail with Stamford as the 1st mile. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!