Welcome to the FVTC!
Why Become a Member?
It could be reasoned that after 20 years we have completed our advocacy for what was once thought nearly impossible: the completed Farmington Canal Heritage Trail (FCHT) from Farmington to the Massachusetts border in Suffield. We could rest on our laurels, yet we are not close to done. Much of the 80-mile FCHT is indeed complete with the notable exception of a 9.1-mile piece running south from southern Farmington, through all of Plainville into northern Southington. A 4.7-mile gap remains in Cheshire. Southwick, Massachusetts is completed, with only 6 miles of Westfield and all of Southampton remaining to the north. The resulting finished north-south trail bisects Connecticut, and along with the Farmington River (Loop) Trail (FRT) which, when completed will be one of only a few 26-mile, off-road loop trails connecting five towns in America. We continue to believe that these multi-use trails or greenways are proven as recreational facilities for physical activity and health, as tourist destinations and sources of economic development, as an abatement of pollution and noise by replacing automobile trips, as a significant community amenity where people congregate and interact, and as a growing form of alternative transportation through commutation.
- The Farmington Valley Trails Council. Inc. is a CT 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 1992 to advocate for multi-use “rails-to-trails” in the Farmington Valley.
- We are now one of the largest such organizations in New England. We fully recognize that the political advocacy and economic strength of the organization stem directly from the vibrancy of our membership.
- Every cent (except our very low administration costs) goes to the trails, no one takes a salary: we are all devoted volunteers.
- Spending on construction, maintenance and trail amenities has averaged over $38,000 a year over the last 6 years.
- Every dollar spent building multi-use trails returns a multiple of that yearly.
- They are immediate successes when built, indicating heavy demand, and they attract thousands of users – our recent study indicates 250,000 in the Farmington Valley alone.
- All those local and out of town users add significantly to economic development.
- Residents are overwhelmingly positive about them, communities that have them are more desirable, and properties near trails sell faster at higher prices.
- These repurposed rail corridors are retained permanently as improved community open space or “linear parks”.
- We work tirelessly for the completion of (1) the FCHT (2) the FRT and (3) the East Coast Greenway in Connecticut.
- We promote the benefits of this multi-use trail system as the 84-mile Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and the 26-mile Farmington River (Loop) Trail.
- We help our area towns through funding trail construction, enhancements and ongoing maintenance.
- We build alliances with federal, State, town and advocacy organizations is a key component. We sit on multiple boards and speak at events across the eastern U.S. Our president, Bruce Donald is the Chairman of the Connecticut Greenways Council.
- We educate the public by providing 10,000 folding maps a year, as well as data and events that promote safety and proper etiquette on the trail system.
- We provide up-to-date information on our Website and through timely communications such as a Newsletter and content-driven emails – we never spam.
- We publish papers on trail advocacy, policy, maintenance and safety.
- FVTC Maintenance Fund: Recent fencing replacement projects for Avon and Farmington.
- Targeted Funds: Salmon Brook Bridge Fund granted $70,000 to East Granby for completion of the bridge.
- We hold events like fun rides and our annual Clean-Up Day: April 12, 2015.
- We staff FVTC information booths at major local town events.
- Our Adopt-a-Trail Program helps our eight towns keep the trail clean and safe with over 110 volunteers.
- Rules and Etiquette Signage, Constructing and Maintaining Information Kiosks.
- Safety: Handlebar Bell and Blinkie Program, Trail Counter Program.
- Painted Center Lines, Unified Design Policy, Commercial Signage Standards.
- “You are Here” Trail Table Program, Trail Ambassador Program.
- Boy Scout Eagle Projects.
In summation, we urge you to join us, not just as a member, but as a volunteer. Come to a board meeting on the second Monday of the month or perhaps help out on Clean-Up Day or another event. Whatever your motivation, we deeply appreciate your support. We could not perform all of these functions without you.
THE RIVER TRAIL IN BURLINGTON IS IN POOR CONDITION AND CONSTRUCTION PHASE
BE VERY CAUTIOUS ... The River Trail in Burlington currently remains open, however it is in a deteriorated state and we urge all users TO GO SLOW, particularly road bikers who may prefer to use RT 179 (up the Burlington parking lot ramp north to Collinsville) to avoid the bumpy pavement. The trail will soon be closed as construction will begin in late fall 2014. Realistically, it will not be completed until early in 2015, but we are all thankful to the Town and ConnDOT.
Preston T. Reed (Mar. 1916 – Dec. 2013) - First President of the FVTC
The Board of Directors and Officers of the Farmington Valley Trails Council (FVTC) sadly mark the passing of our founder, Preston Reed. Preston was a long-time resident of Farmington, CT. Born in Nashua, NH, he grew up in Yonkers and White Plains, NY. He was a graduate of Union College and had an MA from Columbia. He rose to the rank of Captain in the Air Force in WWII in the Pacific theater. He worked for many years as the Director of Human Resources for the Nestle Co. His second career was as Professor of Management and Organizational Behavior at the Rensselaer Graduate Center in Hartford for 20 years. Along the way he built houses, was an early adopter of the personal computer, and became an outstanding sailor and bicyclist.
The first federal Transportation Act to fund the conversion of abandoned railroad beds into multi-use trails in 1991 (ISTEA) came to Preston’s attention, and he was determined to bring those trails to the Farmington Valley. His organizational abilities were showcased when he partnered with Len Tolisano, then the Town Planner of Simsbury, who formulated the idea of having a six-town committee of the other valley towns of Farmington, Burlington, Avon, Suffield, and Granby form to apply for the federal funds and to start the push for construction of a greenway which would link the towns.
Having retired in 1991, Preston envisioned a citizens’ advocacy group, the Farmington Valley Trails Council, and the FVTC was duly incorporated in 1992. The pairing was critical: a group of municipal employees to champion the concept and move the paperwork through the proper channels, and a citizens group to develop a public awareness of the desirability of the idea, and keep reminding public officials of the support of their constituents. Keep in mind that the trails that we now love were an un-built and un-proven concept at the time. It takes a certain type of person to overcome the objections of abutting property owners and other detractors. It was this formula of municipal/advocate partnership that to this day continues to push for the ultimate success of the trail system.
In a 2012 conversation, Preston related that he took great satisfaction in the coming completion of the trail; that it has succeeded even beyond his expectations; and it continually surprised him with the wide range of uses it is put to. With his usual perspicacity he noted the need for better and safer accesses to the trail, which would expand into a network of walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and hoped that the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail could be extended to the south to connect through Plainville to New Haven.
As we enjoy the linear park which enhances our community and enlivens ourselves, let us remember our founder, who in 21 years never took his eyes away from the goal. Preston Reed was still a familiar sight riding on his beloved trails into his mid-90s. Our collective heart goes out to his wife Ann, his sons and daughters and many grandchildren.