Group for trails to try again in Groton

Groton - The Tri-Town Committee seeking to develop the "Bluff Point to Preston Trail" is once again approaching the City of Groton in hope of gaining public access to the reservoir properties the city owns in the Town of Groton and Ledyard.

The committee would use the access to establish a 14-mile hiking or biking trail that would traverse city-owned watershed property adjacent to the Ledyard and Morgan reservoirs in Ledyard, and the Groton watershed between routes 117 and 1 in the Town of Groton.

Last August, the committee asked City of Groton officials for a chance to present its plan. Groton officials garnered information from Utilities Director Paul Yatko and a representative from its insurance carrier before deciding to disregard the committee's request.

By not putting the request on a future agenda the council essentially rejected the trails committee's request.

Support from Ledyard

The town of Ledyard recently sent a letter to the Groton Utilities Commission, which is chaired by Mayor Marian Galbraith, stating its support for the committee's effort.

Public access to this clearly defined trail on reservoir property would have little or no impact on the environment and no degradation of the quality of public drinking water. Similar trails exist on other nearby reservoir properties across the state and throughout the nation," the letter says. "In those other reservoir areas water testing and soil conservation studies have verified the preservation of clean water and healthy watersheds."

The letter was signed by Ledyard Mayor John Rodolico, Town Council President Sean Sullivan and James Diaz, vice president of the Water Pollution Control Authority.

Galbraith said only that the issue will be taken up first by the Utilities Commission, which will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the council chambers of the Groton Municipal Building. The commission which will make a recommendation to the City Council.

David Holdridge, chairman of the trails committee, said the letter came about after the Ledyard Town Council asked the trails committee several times about its progress. He said he had to keep telling them that access to the reservoirs continued to be a major stumbling block.

"When we first asked for a meeting we didn't get an response at all," he said last week. "We have wondered, 'Did they ignore us in hopes that we would just go away?' We thought if the town supported us they would give it more weight."

The letter addresses, among other things, insurance liability issues as well as security, quality of life and fundraising to cover any unforeseen expenses associated with access, all of which were topics of discussion among the City Council last year.

"The prospect of an improved quality of life for all of our citizens clearly outweighs any concerns," the letter states. "The Bluff Point to Preston Trail will provide a tremendous recreational resource, create a safe and convenient means of alternative transportation, boost tourism and enhance property values. The natural beauty of southern New England can be made available for generations to come."

c.potter@theday.com

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