River Park News
Friends of the Hockanum River Linear Park
year has been a busy – and different - year for the Friends
organization. In addition to our ongoing efforts to make the river park
happen, our resources and energies were taken in the direction of
protecting the riverside greenway from the encroachment of development.
As we all know, creating greenspace along our rivers is critical
to reversing the damage from once-polluted rivers, like the Hockanum.
River greenways also ensure future river protection.
Our thanks to you, our supporters, for helping us work toward
expanding system of river parks along the Hockanum River continues to
host growing numbers of visitors of all ages -
from young parents with toddlers to walking retirees.
After all the angst of planning, acquisition, and at last - park construction - it
is indeed very gratifying to see public enjoyment of these riverside
Ann Letendre, Board of
Director, Friends of HRLP
join us for a
River and Marsh Walk!
October 10th at 1:00 pm
Meet at the small parking lot at Dart Hill
North Park on Dart Hill Rd,
just 1/8 mile from Route 83, next to
will walk along the Hockanum upstream to the marsh area near the Water
Pollution Control Facility. This
marsh area has a significant amount of bird
activity, especially in the fall.
One way, it’s a 1.4
mile walk. For
those who want to travel just one way, we will have a shuttle back to
the parking lot.
Many thanks to the untiring efforts of
our committee member George
Arthur who spent countless hours re-clearing this leg of the river
trail, which had become severely overgrown and impassible.
It is now ready for us to enjoy – please join us!
$$ Membership Support:
it’s that time of year!
Your past support is appreciated –
we need your future support!
to YOU - we’ve been able
to preserve greenspace along the river, add two acres to Dart Hill
Park, and construct trails in the river parks.
See membership form inside!
OF HRLP – AND WALGREENS:
As part of our river protection goals, we feel it is important to review
proposed plans for new development projects that are adjacent to the
river. Scientific studies show that at least 50 to 100 feet of
river buffer is needed to sustain aquatic habitats and to protect the
river from non-point source pollution, the
contaminated runoff from roads, parking lots, construction sites,
farms, and pesticide-treated lawns.
The ideal approach is to work with developers upfront
- at the start of the planning process so that these protection goals
can be incorporated into initial plans – sparing both parties the
added costs of legal battles and plan revisions.
Last spring the Town received an application for a second Walgreens, to
be constructed at the corner of Routes 74 and 83. (Ducky’s, Carr’s Radiator, and a third building would be
removed). Here was
an opportunity to do something positive for the river, as well as to make improvements to the property.
BUT – the plans showed that the new building and parking lot
would be constructed right up to the edge of a steep river embankment.
Public access to the river was blocked, and there was only
25-ft of river buffer. The
building was too large to accommodate any greater buffering.
We could not convince the applicants to construct a smaller
building with less impervious surface and more greenspace – and we
therefore had to oppose the application at public hearings before the
Inland Wetlands and Planning & Zoning Commissions.
The hearings were an intense experience – and took much time,
effort and expense. Many
thanks go to our attorney, Amy Paterson,
for her excellent work on our behalf.
Unfortunately, both commissions approved the application, but we felt so
strongly that this plan was a detriment to the river, that we appealed
the decision. The appeal process can take two years to settle – and
time is money to Walgreens. So
- they invited us to the table to talk!
Revised plans will (1) reduce the building size by 3000 square
feet to allow 50 feet of river
buffer, (2) plant 160 trees and bushes
in the buffer, and (3) provide a conservation easement
on the buffer area, which will ensure public access
to the river for future generations! ……
We are pleased with this outcome – but we ask the obvious………
…………..shouldn’t it have been done in the first
Word About the Friends…
are a non-profit 501c3 organization whose purpose
is to encourage citizen involvement in the river park, and to bring the
community ‘back to the river’.
We apply for grants to create new park areas and enhance existing
parks. To date we have
received over $48,500 of grant funds!
Our able and hard-working Board of Directors are:
President Ginny Gingras
Vice President – Betty Tedford
Secretary/Treasurer – Ann Letendre
Amy Blaymore Paterson
Call us at 875-4623 or 875-9865 anytime for
questions or comments!
MORE RIVER GREENSPACE:
THE PARK at PAPER MILL POND IS COMPLETED!!
This is a small
corner park with a very big story – beginning with a ‘nick-in-time’ rescue of
the parcel, and ending with a lovely greenspace that now graces the
corner of East Main and Grove streets!
Thanks to the landscaping design by Eagle
Scout Rob Babcock, and support from the Rockville
Downtown Association, and Vernon
Parks and Recreation Department, this small park now provides an
eye-pleasing gateway to Rockville.
Wrought iron fencing, a garden landscape, and a sitting area
with a view of the pond, all beckon the passer-by to come sit and
enjoy the waterside environment………
Obtaining the corner lot for the park was a
long and tortuous road, beginning in 1996.
At that time, the corner was owned by the CT Department of
Transportation (DOT). Unaware
that this corner lot was identified as a small sitting park in the
Hockanum River Park Master Plan, the DOT had initiated steps to sell
it to a neighboring auto business.
Once we learned of this situation, we immediately contacted
DOT, and worked with them to find a solution.
It took 5+ years, and a lot of persistent telephone calls from
the Friends, but ultimately DOT transferred the property to the
Department of Environmental Protection parks department, which then
leased it to the Town. Finally,
in December 2001, the lease arrived at Town Hall!!
Thanks go to Attorney Amy Paterson of our Committee, Chuck Reed and Dave Stygar
of DEP, and to Jim Lewis and Carl Rosa of the DOT for making this
small greenspace available for public enjoyment.
Two New Grants! The Friends are working in partnership with the Vernon
Conservation Commission and the Open Space Task Force to conduct
natural resource studies in the important Tankerhoosen River
watershed. We are pleased
to announce that we received two grants for this purpose:
$3000 from Rivers Alliance, Inc., and $1500 from New England
Grassroots Foundation. We
have contracted with wildlife biologist, Jane Seymour, to do bird and
amphibian studies in the upper ‘Tank’ area.
We will provide you with more information on this exciting new
project in our next edition of River
of Hockanum River Linear Park, Inc.
Membership Contribution Form -
for Fiscal Year July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005
Name__________________________ Zip Code___________
Tel._________________ I would like to volunteer some time to help the
o INDIVIDUAL - $5.00 o
FAMILY - $10.00
CONTRIBUTING - $25.00
the form with your check to:
of HRLP, 21 Timber
Lane, Vernon, CT 06066