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New Britain Builds First Stage of New Looping Trail for Walkers, Cyclists

Don Stacom
Contact Reporterdstacom@courant.com

After riding the freshly paved multi-use trail through A. W. Stanley Park on Wednesday afternoon, Charles Poventud declared it a winner.

“It’s really convenient, and I could see myself coming here even on the weekends,” said Poventud, who bicycles from his job at the nearby Starbucks. “I enjoy it. It’s been a really nice ride back and forth.”

New Britain leaders are hoping that more cyclists, walkers and runners will begin using the 1.25-mile trail this fall now that the new pavement is ready.

The city intends the path to be the first phase of a more ambitious loop of more than 6 miles that will link A. W. Stanley Park with Stanley Quarter Park.

More than half of that is already in place because cyclists and pedestrians can use existing bike paths and sidewalks along Barbour Road, Eddy Glover Boulevard, Stanley Street and Ella Grasso Boulevard.

“This path opens up new recreational opportunities for residents and visitors from surrounding communities,” Mayor Erin Stewart said. “This trail network brings people closer to nature and affords residents a chance to be active right here in our city.”

The loop within the 93-acre Stanley Park cuts through the woodlands in the northeast section, passing a sports field and Lower Pond.

The city’s contractor, Tabacco & Sons, paved a 10-foot wide path, and added a 200-foot-long connector to Village Square Drive to provide easy access for tenants in the hundreds of nearby apartments. That connector ends directly across from a park-and-ride lot.

“The idea with this project is that, even though we have been installing a lot of bike infrastructure around the city, there was a need for families to go and ride or access natural environments aside from Walnut Hill Park,” Public Works Director Mark Moriarty said.

Moriarty has been one of the city’s leaders in developing a network of 30 miles of bike lanes and shared-use lanes on existing streets. New Britain has earned status as a “bike-friendly community” from the League of American Bicyclists for its work; fewer than a dozen Connecticut communities have that status.

Funding for the Stanley Park loop included a $94,000 state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection grant and $270,000 from the state’s Local Capital Improvement Program.

The second phase will be funded with a $1.4 million federal grant; that will pay for a new trail cutting through the middle of the southwest section of A.W. Stanley Park and crossing through the 138-acre Stanley Quarter Park to Eddy Glover Boulevard.

“We know from ‘community health report cards’ that many of our students are falling short in reaching physical education standards and that our community has high rates of asthma and cardiovascular disease,” Stewart said. “A trail system like this could help in reversing these trends, if used frequently, and could improve the well-being of our residents.”

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