As part of Keep Norwalk Beautiful’s 2017 Great American Cleanup campaign, volunteers tackled a major cleanup of a section of Connecticut’s Norwalk River, which is close to Norwalk’s central business district but had been neglected and uninviting to enter for decades.

This half-mile stretch of the river is situated between Riverside Avenue and Route 7 and is known as the “Missing Link” portion of the Norwalk River Valley Trail, which runs from Norwalk to Danbury.

On April 20, 2017, Keep Norwalk Beautiful (KNB), the Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT), Norwalk’s Mayor Harry Rilling, Grace Farms Foundation of New Canaan, Crius Energy of Norwalk, employees of Shop Rite Supermarket, and corporate staff of Pepperidge Farms Inc.  joined forces to clean up this section of the proposed NRVT. Trucks from the Norwalk Department of Public Works were on hand to assist with hauling away the accumulated debris from the cleanup.

The cleanup began on Riverside Avenue at 10:00 a.m. and ran until 2:00 p.m. whereupon 2.3 tons of debris located along the shoreline of the Norwalk River was collected by the 52 volunteers in attendance. The area in question had been the site of illegal dumping of such items as tile, numerous tires, water bottles, beer cans and other, similar litter.

The area that was cleaned will be the next section of the NRVT, slated for construction in Norwalk. Construction on this section of the trail is anticipated to begin in 2018. Once this section is completed, Norwalk will have three miles of continuous off-road multi-purpose trail beginning at the Maritime Aquarium and running north to Broad St. 

This section, which will closely follow the Norwalk River, is a brief walk from the downtown neighborhood and will soon offer much-needed recreational trail space for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists seeking to avoid roadways.The project is supported by a $5,000 Keep America Beautiful Train Grant, provided to KNB.

Jim Carter, Norwalk’s leader on NRVT’s Five Town Steering Committee says, “When you’re down on this proposed section of the NRVT along the Norwalk River, with the foliage filling out, you’d swear you were in Vermont. It’s just beautiful.”

The vision of the NRVT is a 38-mile, multi-use trail running from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, through Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding, terminating at Rodgers Park in Danbury.

The April 20 Great American Cleanup event was a tremendous success in Norwalk. In addition to the removal of long-standing debris, this activity brought much needed focus to this area, igniting public interest which has led to volunteers now engaging in graffiti removal from the highway overpass and conducting periodic litter removal maintenance.