community development

Study Underway to Assess the Economic Impact of the Naugatuck River Greenway Trail

Naugatuck GreenwayThe Naugatuck River Greenway (NRG) Steering Committee has initiated a 2015-2016 study to catalog the economic and quality of life impacts that will result from the construction of the Naugatuck River Greenway trail, a planned multi-use trail along the Naugatuck River. The study is designed to assist each of the 11 greenway municipalities and local greenway committees in furthering their work to complete sections of trail in their communities. The planned NRG route will follow the river for 44 miles bringing the trail through parts of Torrington, Litchfield, Harwinton, Thomaston, Watertown, Waterbury, Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, Seymour, Ansonia and Derby.

The NRG Economic Impact Study is being conducted by The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) in partnership with the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Extension program in Community & Economic Development (Extension), the UConn Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis (CCEA), and the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG). The project will be guided by the NRG Steering Committee, a group made up of representatives of the 11 greenway communities, state and federal representatives, and other key stakeholders. Funding to conduct the study has been received from The Connecticut Community Foundation, The Valley Community Foundation, The Eva M. Coty Fund of The Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut, and The Katharine Matthies Foundation.

“It is important that each community have a detailed analysis on how both trail construction and the completed trail sections will impact the local economy,” said NRG Steering Committee Co-Chair Ingrid Manning. The study was designed to give municipalities information they need to make a stronger case for funding greenway construction, and findings will help them make stronger applications for state and federal grants. The study will determine the effects the NRG will have through local spending by trail users, changes in property values, construction related expenditures, the health and quality of life of residents, and potential tie-ins with brownfield redevelopment. Information gathered will also help them capitalize on the trail once it is a reality. It will look at how municipalities can maximize benefits through enhanced citizen participation, proper construction planning, trail management, marketing strategies, residential and commercial development and zoning changes.

UConn Extension’s staff in Community & Economic Development conducted an extensive literature review, detailing similar projects around the country. This is being used to inform ongoing data collection and analysis. Over the past several months, NVCOG staff and volunteers have been working to collect trail user data on the open sections of the NRG in Derby, Ansonia, Beacon Falls and Naugatuck, as well as on other comparable multiuse trails, namely the Middlebury Greenway in Middlebury and the Sue Grossman Trail in Torrington. Automated counters have been set out on trails throughout the summer and into the fall to track trail use. Trail users have also been greeted by staff and volunteers at several trailheads and asked to complete a short survey aimed at determining their demographics and spending patterns. Over the winter, the study partners plan to collect more information through multiple focus groups of trail administrators, recreation and land managers, adjacent property owners, area business owners, and local policy makers. CCEA will be completing the economic analysis that will include an analysis of property values, local spending patterns, a cost/benefit analysis, and construction spending from building sections of the trail.

As part of the process, the NRG Steering Committee and project partners will present study findings to municipal officials, developers, development agencies and the public both electronically and via an outreach forum. It will also solicit comments and suggestion from stakeholders in this regard.

The NRG corridor has been officially designated as a greenway by the CT Greenways Council and the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The entire greenway trail is identified as a trail of statewide significance in the Connecticut Recreational Trails Plan, and it was designated as one of 101 America’s Great Outdoors projects in 2011 by the U. S. Department of the Interior.

More information can be found at www.NaugatuckRiver.net , at www.nvcogct.org, and at http://communities.extension.uconn.edu/.

More PEP Graduates

Congratulations to our most recent UConn Extension People Empowering People (PEP) graduates from Meriden! The People Empowering People Program is a personal and family development program with a strong community focus. Created by Cheryl Czuba, UConn Extension Educator, the PEP program builds upon individual life experiences and strengths to encourage growth in communication and problem solving skills, parent/family relationships and community involvement. The PEP program is coordinated by Cathleen T. Love, Ph.D, UConn Professor of Extension [more].The PEP program has graduated over one thousand people in over fifteen years.

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Communication Skills with PEP

A UConn Extension People Empowering People (PEP) class in March 2015. Madre Latina Inc., a Community organization from Waterbury visited. We were happy to have them because their experiences and knowledge help us to continue the process of help others. At another class, students made a game out of active listening and communication through crafts.

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Congratulations PEP Graduates

Congratulations to our recent UConnExtension‬ People Empowering People (PEP) graduates from Meriden and Putnam. A few graduates are pictured below, but many more were also recognized.

3 out of 5 graduates were able to make it to the graduation in Putnam, due to bad weather. Sherry Curran (far left) read a short description of each grad and what they brought to the group. Kris Cicchetti, President of the Northeast Early Childhood Council (next to Sherry) presented the certificates to the grads. Shannon Haney, PEP co-facilitator, (far right, back) is seen clapping for the next grad coming up for her certificate.
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Recent PEP Graduates

UConn Extension’s People Empowering People (PEP) Program held a facilitator training led by Robin Drago in December.  Participants came from Hartford, Danbury, New Haven, Coventry, New London and Mansfield and will offer UConn PEP for parents in those communities.  UConn PEP is a personal and family development training with a strong community focus. Our most recent graduates will facilitate the  UConn PEP program and work with parents to build upon their individual life experiences and strengths to encourage growth in communication and problem solving skills, parent/family relationships and community involvement. Congratulations!

PEP 2013(2) PEP 2013

Saturday Morning Breakfast Club

By Edith Valiquette

Every Saturday morning in Bridgeport, 4-H families gather for the Saturday Morning Breakfast Club. During this time, families eat together, have group discussions, and have fun. 4-H staff in Fairfield County created this program as part of its mentoring initiative because it saw the need to strengthen family bonds.

The mentoring program has three components:  mentoring, family night, and the 4-H club.  Youth are involved in all three activities.  Seventy-five youth total are involved in the program and the Extension Office partners with the Regional Youth Substance Abuse Project.

Bfast club

Parents face increasing challenges in providing for their children as wages continue to decline. Some work second jobs while others have enrolled in continuing education courses. When several parents had to miss Family Night Out events for these commitments, we looked for alternative ways parents could participate in the program. And the breakfast club has worked well.  The breakfast club has also been a great way to include fathers in the program.

Nearly 20 adults and youth attend this Saturday morning program. The club’s goal is to strengthen the parent-child relationship through group discussion, one-on-one interaction between parent and child, and fun, educational activities. 4-H staff provides a free, full course breakfast made possible by community donations to set the foundation for a better day by nourishing the body.

Each week focuses on a different topic.  Some past examples include:  creating a collage of their family, family values, trust, communication and working together.  Saturday Morning Breakfast Club also focuses on having fun with your family.

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During the discussion, a book is passed around that begins with one poetic line. Everyone must write a line of their own that builds upon the line before theirs. At the end of every session, the lines are read aloud and the result is a beautiful poem that sounds as if it were written by one person. The purpose of this activity is to show the inherent and positive connection that exists between people’s thoughts.

The Saturday Morning Breakfast Club has proved to be a valuable way to enhance the mentoring program and increase the family strengthening opportunities in Bridgeport.