Stamford Park Plans Presented (CT)

STAMFORD, Connecticut, 4/25/02: The Friends of the Mill River, Westside Action Movement, the Stamford Partnership, and the Trust for Public Land will host a public meeting tonight to present the final design for a park on the West Bank of the Mill River at Greenwich Avenue and to unveil new conceptual designs for a park on Washington Street on the East Bank. The information session will be held Thursday, April 25, at 7:00 PM at the Yerwood Center on Fairfield Avenue in Stamford. Representatives from the City of Stamford, Army Corp of Engineers, and nonprofit organizations will be available to answer questions.

“The Friends of the Mill River are thrilled at the progress of the Mill River Corridor Park,” said Barbara Irving, president of the Friends of the Mill River. “We have been involved in helping to advance the project since 1998. Our mission includes public education about the value of the Park to the surrounding communities and to the City as a whole. The Mill River can and should be the heart and soul of Stamford.”

“As a united group, we are proud to finally see our hopes and dreams of a Mill River Corridor become a reality,” said Novlyn Hall, president of the Westside Action Movement. “On behalf of our organization, I would like to thank and congratulate our Mayor, the City of Stamford, the Trust for Public Land, the Army Corps of Engineers, Stamford Partnership, and the Friends of the Mill River for our united effort in bridging the gap between the West Side and downtown Stamford. Truly, we are the ‘City that Works’.”

Tonight, West Side residents will see the final results of the community input on park design given last September at an all-day event on the banks of the Mill River. The West Side park, which will be completed by early 2003, will be the first new open space parcel to be created as part of the proposed 26-acre Mill River Corridor Park. This 3.8-acre vacant parcel on Greenwich Avenue will be transformed into a park with a community plaza on the south end and a children’s playground on the north end. These new facilities will be linked by a 12-foot wide bike and walking path.

Conceptual designs for a second park, this one on the East Bank, will also be unveiled at tonight’s meeting. This 5-acre parcel is bounded by Washington, Main, and West Broad Streets, and its redesign is still in the initial stages. Some of the possibilities for the site include a space for outdoor performing arts, central plaza, walkways, outdoor art display area, and a riverwalk promenade.

“The design of these two parks represents a major step forward in the Mill River Corridor project,” said Stamford Mayor Dannel P. Malloy. “This initiative is critical for the city’s future. I commend the Friends of the Mill River, Westside Action Movement, Stamford Partnership, and the Trust for Public Land for their efforts to encourage neighborhood involvement and citizen participation. Through this kind of partnership, we will succeed in transforming Stamford’s riverfront.”

“The Mill River Corridor Park project is a model for urban revitalization efforts throughout Connecticut and New England,” said Tim Northrop, state director for The Trust for Public Land. “TPL is delighted to be helping design and create these two demonstration parks as a first step in the larger effort. We would like to thank the Overbrook Foundation for generously supporting this important project as part of our new GreenCities New England program.”

“After a century of debate, the Mill River plan was finally adopted late last year,” said Stamford Partnership president Ralph Loomis. “Since that time, community, business, and citizen groups have rallied behind that plan to ensure that it becomes a reality. Today’s unveiling is a true landmark for all of us.”

Park designs were completed by Greenways Inc., a nationally recognized landscape architecture and environmental planning firm based in Durham, North Carolina, with particular expertise in engaging communities in the design process. The Trust for Public Land and Greenways Inc. have worked together on park projects across the country.

In November 2001, with the strong support of Mayor Malloy, Stamford’s Board of Representatives overwhelmingly approved this new plan for the Mill River Corridor, which calls for the creation of a 26-acre greenway along a 1.9-mile stretch of river. Included in the greenway plan is the establishment of a “central park” in Stamford, the creation of walking and bike paths along the river, and the construction of 3 new pedestrian bridges.

The coalition supporting the Mill River Corridor Park includes community groups, nonprofit organizations, and elected officials. Thanks to the strong support of the Connecticut congressional delegation and state officials, more than $1.3 million in federal grants and just over $1.1 million in state grants have been awarded to the project for land acquisition and construction of the new pedestrian and bicycle path. In addition, the Army Corp of Engineers has agreed to help restore the habitat of the riverbed and its banks, and Save the Sound is coordinating the construction of a fish ladder at the Main Street dam, which will open seven miles of river habitat to alewives, blueback herring, and other species.

The Friends of the Mill River was established to promote an expanded and enhanced Mill River Park, to encourage compatible development within the Mill River corridor, to heighten awareness of the potential benefits to the entire community, and to assist in the appropriate design, development and management of the Park.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, the Trust has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including nearly 100,000 acres in New England. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs.