Purpose & Vision
Trails, open space and recreational facilities are integral components to healthy, livable communities. Access to, and the quality of these resources significantly contributes to the quality of life for all residents and visitors. It is the vision of the Bluff Point to Preston Trail Committee to enhance the quality of life for the residents of southeastern Connecticut by providing the area’s first regional multi-use recreational trail.
When complete, the trail will stretch from Bluff Point northward through the central areas of Groton and Ledyard, to Preston Community Park. This trail will connect multiple municipalities, economic centers, residential areas, and areas of significant natural resources to form a regional recreational facility as well as a truly functioning alternative transportation corridor.
You can help! We are making progress on completing the trail, however, as with most projects, we need support and ideas. The committee is actively looking for funding sources and ways to promote the trail. Get involved! You can contact the Committee by email.
Like most public projects, the concept of this trail has been around in various forms for many years. In order to fully understand the current objectives, we will review previous initiatives.
The largest landowner in both the Town of Groton and Ledyard is the City of Groton. The City of Groton owns several large and contiguous parcels of land that bisect both towns on a north south axis. These parcels of land contain reservoirs and the water treatment operations. Groton Utilities is a municipal water company that is owned by the City of Groton, and the City of Groton itself is a political subdivision of the Town of Groton.
The City was incorporated in 1903 as the Borough of Groton for the primary purpose of supplying consistent and reliable power to the Naval Submarine Base and Electric Boat Shipyard during the buildup to the First World War. The political subdivision of power, money and control have at times stressed the relationship between the Town of Groton and the City. These governing issues are also expressed in the natural world, as both the Town of Ledyard and Groton benefit from the large tracts of city-owned open space within their towns, although each has limited jurisdictional control.
As development pressures increase, it will be advantageous that the governmental agencies and the City form a working partnership that educates the public, while seeking to preserve and protect the environmentally sensitive lands within their towns. Since the reservoir establishment, the City of Groton has controlled all activities and access to its properties in accordance with the guidelines established by the CT Department of Public Health (DPH).
During the 1980s, and early 90s, Groton Utilities issued recreational activity permits for a variety of uses including horseback riding and hiking. (See appendix A) In the mid 1990s, after issues with an abutting property owner’s horses getting loose on the city’s property, the permit system was terminated. Although there have been numerous requests, it has never been reinstated.
In 2001, the Town of Groton developed a plan to build a multi-use trail alongside Route 117 connecting the Poquonnock Plains and Poquonnock Bridge Neighborhoods near Bluff Point to the Copp Property in the Center Groton area (Route 1 to Route 184). In cooperation with Groton Utilities, a route was agreed upon Tri-Town trail Master Plan - Bluff Point to Preston Trail Committee utilizing the Route 117 Right-of-Way, and City of Groton property. The plan was endorsed by 18 significant stakeholders and received a state grant for construction. However, approval for the matching funds needed by the Town failed in the RTM by 2 votes - and the project was never built. At the time Groton was in the beginning of a large school expansion project, and schools took priority over trails.
In 2003, the Town of Groton undertook a town wide Bicycle, Trails and Pedestrian Master Plan. That plan, completed in 2004 by Brian Kent Associates (now Kent + Frost Landscape Architecture - author of this study), identified a north-south connection from Bluff Point to Ledyard as a significant need. Other trails identified as needs around the vicinity of Bluff Point are currently under design and construction, and could connect to this proposed trail.
In early 2008, the impetus for this current project came to be when David Holdridge, a Ledyard Town Councilor, approached the Utility Commission (governing body appointed by the Mayor of the City of Groton, to oversee Groton Utilities) to ask for permission to access reservoir properties for trail access. The Utilities’ response was that it does not allow public access to its properties, but that approved, escorted group activities are encouraged.
In February 2008, Dave Holdridge, in association with Representative Tom Reynolds, held an informational meeting to gauge interest in developing a trail from Bluff Point to Preston. The meeting was well attended with significant representation from the Towns including Mayors, First Selectmen, Town Managers, Town staff, and Groton Utilities and City representatives. After such strong support, an ad hoc committee was formed and began to meet monthly, bringing in speakers from the DEP and other reservoir systems for educational presentations.
In June of 2008, the committee was officially authorized when the Groton, Ledyard and Preston town governments all passed resolutions empowering and authorizing the Bluff Point to Preston Trail Committee. A steering committee was formed by all towns designating 3 representatives. Additionally, Al Dion was chosen to represent Groton Utilities (Herb Cummings replaced Mr. Dion upon his retirement). It is important to note that the chief elected official from all governmental bodies was represented on the steering committee. The SCCG agreed to help administer the project and act as the fiduciary. The Committee has met at least monthly since its establishment. During this time it has developed three conceptual route alignments, and has sought and received donations that have enabled this study.
We welcome your comments and suggestions. Please contact us by email.