East Rock Park Volunteer Trail Work

East Rock Park Volunteer Trail Work

Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 9:00am to 12:00pm
East Rock Park See map New Haven, CT 06511

We need volunteers to help grade the trail near Rice Fields, remove invasive vegetation and help with other efforts to improve the site.

Shout out to REI for supporting this trail work!

Dear Friends,
The seeds for this project were planted when Betty Thompson, FERP’s co-leader, was walking from her home in Cedar Hill over to the park daily as part of her recovery.  She was frustrated that she could only go so far before having to turn back.  The sidewalk simply ended and she could not navigate the steep descent to the path below.  Her other option was to walk the narrow footpath above the ball fields in Rice Field that walkers and runners had created in a stretch that clearly begged for a wider trail, but it was too unsafe for Betty.

The seeds were nourished a bit when a half dozen or so of us wrote FERP’s mission statement ten years ago under Justin Elicker’s leadership - a mission to “build connections” and “encourage neighbors to meet each other, celebrate the environment, and become stewards of the park.”

With our assortment of handy tools, abundant energy, and commitment to make a difference, FERP volunteers, Youth@Work crews, and community groups looking for a service opportunity tackled a lot of projects all over the park during the ensuing years.  As we worked alongside Park Ranger Dan Barvir he would often speak passionately about the need to maintain the Park’s extensive trail system which was falling into disrepair.  But this project remained on the back burner - dormant.  It was simply beyond the scope of our hand tools, wheelbarrows, and volunteer labor.

Then this past winter I received an email from Mason Trumble at REI, Recreational Equipment, Inc.  He had happened upon FERP’s website while looking for an organization that might be interested in a grant opportunity.  He asked if FERP had a potential project that would align with the goals of the organization and fit with the recreational interests of its customers.

Out came a plan drawn up last fall by David Moser, New Haven’s landscape architect.  It was actually a plan to address the severe erosion of the path leading up from the White Trail to English Drive, but it captured REI’s interest.

Enter Colleen Murphy-Dunning from URI, FERP’s fiscal agent, who wrote an eloquent grant proposal on FERP’s behalf about a different, but related project - widening the footpath in order to increase access and join communities.

REI awarded us $7,500. 

Permissions were secured from Rebecca Bombero, Director of Parks and Recreation and Trees, to have the footpath widened and reconfigured by URI’s visionary Chris Ozyck.

The work is well underway and the change is dramatic.

But there will be LOTS of work to do very soon grading stone dust, removing invasive shrubbery, and spreading mulch - the kind of work so many of us have been doing over the past ten years.  

So please mark your calendars and come lend a hand on Saturday, November 4th from 9 am to noon.

Technically, the former footpath will be an extension of the White Trail.  To me, it will always be Betty Thompson’s Way.

Best wishes,
David Shimchick