Shoreline Greenway Trail Adds a Parking Lot

Ed Raff, Virginia Raff, and Perry Rianhard, Madison volunteers with the Shoreline Greenway Trail, are dwarfed by the large earthmoving equipment now at work creating a parking lot just east of the entrance to Hammonasset State Park. The parking lot will be the easternmost end of the Greenway Trail.
Ed Raff, Virginia Raff, and Perry Rianhard, Madison volunteers with the Shoreline Greenway Trail, are dwarfed by the large earthmoving equipment now at work creating a parking lot just east of the entrance to Hammonasset State Park. The parking lot will be the easternmost end of the Greenway Trail.

Ginny Raff, Madison team chair with the Shoreline Greenway Trail, describes the parking lot now under construction just east of the Hammonasset State Park entrance as "a lot full of big Tonka toys." Before the end of this month, she expects to be calling it the Shoreline Greenway Trail's "eastern beginning."

The site now under construction will be a much-needed parking lot for the eastern end of the Greenway Trail. When it is complete in a few short weeks, the lot will provide 58 parking places, including three handicapped places, for hikers, bikers, walkers, skiers, birdwatchers, dog walkers, and others who want to enjoy the Madison section of the trail that has been completed to date.

The design for the parking lot was started about four years ago.

"Mike Ott, the town engineer, volunteered his own time to design the lot. What we will have is something very beautiful and environmentally sensitive," Raff explained.

There will be a rain garden in the middle of the lot to prevent any run-off into the marsh, and Barbara Yaeger, chair of the Inland Wetlands Commission and a landscape designer who has volunteered her time and talent to design a landscape plan.

The lot sits on state-owned property with frontage on the Boston Post Road just east of the state park's entrance. Park personnel and the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) have joined with the Shoreline Greenway Trail in agreeing to the need for parking.

"This lot will allow the park to enforce its 'no parking' rules along the park entrance road," Raff said.

It will also provide much-needed parking for the increasing number of people using the Hammonasset Walkway, a stretch of trail dedicated earlier this year. This walkway, which was designed and then completed almost entirely by volunteers, lies just west of the park entrance and spans the marsh, providing spectacular views and leading out to the peninsula.

The parking lot is not a volunteer effort, Raff said-"We don't have those big trucks." The work is being done by Venuti Enterprises of Killingworth. The project costs about $100,000 and is being funded from a variety of sources including the federal Recreational Trails Program, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, "and always, the contributions of individual donors."

Eventually, the parking lot will lead to the park's service road, then to the entrance road and then to the walkway.

"People are doing that now, even without a trail," Raff said.

The longer-range plans call for development of this eastern trailhead parking lot and from there, a trail will parallel the park maintenance road, cross the park entrance road near the tollbooths, and lead north to the walkway across the marsh. Raff added that, just to the south of the walkway, Eagle Scout candidate Eric Marsh has installed a delightful rest area where visitors can relax and enjoy the marsh view.

On the west side of the walkway, the trail is finished for approximately 0.8 miles. It runs parallel to the park campground, along the short stretch of trail close to the Post Road on the Department of Transportation right-of-way, and out along the peninsula to the west of the main park property.

"This is a very beautiful section of trail with excellent bird-watching and a whole different ecological system from the rest of the park," the group's website, http://wordpress.shorelinegreenwaytrail.org, explains.

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