Selectmen Expand, Approve Bike & Trails Committee Appointments
With more than 30 Newtown residents stepping forward to serve, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, with the assistance of Selectman Maureen Crick Owen and Parks & Rec Director Amy Mangold, narrowed the field and saw the Board of Selectmen unanimously approve expanding a newly-formed Bike & Trails Committee from its originally proposed seven, to nine voting members and two non-voting members.
Hoping to keep all those interested involved as well, the first selectman said he plans to tap the energy and talents of any other interested volunteers to participate in subcommittees and on special projects.
Acting during their regular meeting December 3, selectmen also unanimously voted to seat residents Brad Accettella, Alicia De La Rosa, Geordie Elkins, Gavin Arneth, Charles Foster, Ken Kerin, Matthew Moscatelli, Dave Siroky, and Brid Craddock to the panel. The Town Conservation Commission and the Parks & Rec Commission will each name representatives as nonvoting ex-officio board members as well.
While the appointments were scheduled to occur during the first December selectmen’s meeting, discussion and action to form the panel have been ongoing for months.
Mr Rosenthal previously reported that the first meeting of the committee would be at 6 pm on December 13, during which it is anticipated the group would propose and elect leadership. He said he planned to invite all the interested candidates to attend.
The first selectman added that with a big group of folks all willing to work toward a common goal, it would not be unusual to involve everyone interested, with select appointees taking votes.
As previously reported in The Newtown Bee, the Bike & Trails Committee is being established pursuant to Section 2-115(e) of the Newtown Charter. As such, all actions of the panel would be subject to approval by the Board of Selectmen.
The documentation lays out how the Bike & Trails Committee would initially address 15 specific goals:
*Promote accessibility and use of recreational trails for the residents of Newtown;
*Continue to prepare a comprehensive trail map of Newtown, showing all public access, recreational trails, including town-owned as well as other organizations;
*Continue to develop a current “state of trails” information system in Newtown, more specifically, town-controlled land (number and location, have trails been established, have trails been mapped, etc);
*Establish an interconnected network of footpaths and trails that connects all areas of Newtown;
*Identify existing trails on public and private lands where possible, located within the town;
*Partner with the town, private landowners, and neighboring groups to identify appropriate uses for those trails and roads;
*Suggest the development of additional trails that might enhance a network of trails and roads;
*Work with landowners to determine an appropriate level of public or neighborhood use of the trails on their land;
*Encourage the maintenance of trails and roads for recreational use and establish methods of maintaining the system of trails through volunteer “trail stewards” trail work groups, etc;
*Develop and update a management plan for trails that are under town control;
*Coordinate and collaborate with other town and community organizations on trail development and maintenance;
*Develop multiuse trails to include bicycles and pedestrians as well as other uses where deemed appropriate;
*Work cooperatively with other town departments, boards, commissions, and organizations to ensure that the committee can meet its goals;
*Develop a community outreach program that would solicit input and encourage support for the recreational Trails Program; and
*Seek appropriate funding and resources necessary to accomplish these goals.
To that end, Mr Rosenthal definitely sees an advantage for formulating the committee, as he believes it will better position both the panel and the town to seek and receive grant underwriting to deliver and/or maintain one or more of the aforementioned goals.
He mentioned that New Milford recently received $170,000 in state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) funding tied to the remediation of brownfield sites along a proposed Housatonic River Greenway trail.
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