SOUTHINGTON — Town officials are hopeful about negotiation with a Newell Street company, the last step before construction can begin on Southington’s final section of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.
The rails-to-trails line is complete from the southern end of town to Lazy Lane. The State Department of Transportation is ready to finish the trail from there to the Plainville town line, town officials said, but have been held up in talks with Yarde Metals over an easement across company property.
Mike DelSanto, a Town Council Republicans and public works committee chairman, said talks have gone on for nearly a year.
“My concern is that this is holding us up,” DelSanto said. “I totally respect their judgment and their opinion. It’s a private business. I’m just hoping we can come to terms … People use this trail, we see it all the time. Middle of the winter, people are out there snowshoeing on it.”
Paul Chaplinsky, a Town Council Republican and public works committee vice chairman, said he’s glad that Yarde Metals owners haven’t shut the door to talks altogether. Proposals have gone back and forth between state officials and town engineers and the company.
Chaplinsky and DelSanto said the company is worried about allowing the trail and then needing parking or space to expand. The trail would cut across company property and state officials are looking to get an agreement for an easement.
Yarde Metals would retain ownership of the property but allow the trail to be built and maintained.
Town officials didn’t think the state would forcibly take the land needed for the trail under eminent domain.
“There was some discussion about eminent domain. I expressed on the record that I’m not in favor of eminent domain,” Chaplinsky said. “I think the state (officials) expressed that they’d like to see the parties keep talking.”
The Connecticut share of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail consists of a 54-mile section connecting New Haven through Suffield, terminating at the Massachusetts border. The entirety of the Connecticut trail section is either complete, in construction, or approaching final design, excluding the remaining 5-mile gap in Plainville.
In a June 2021 press release, the Department of Transportation stated this gap is proposed to be closed in three project phases and "Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2023 based on the availability of funding, acquisition of rights of way and approval of permit(s). The estimated construction cost for this project is approximately $4.25 million and is anticipated to be undertaken with 100 percent State funds."