Aldermen accept $300,000 state grant to build Founder's Walkway

Milford’s aldermen voted this week to accept a $300,000 state grant to pay for a Founder’s Walkway next to Milford Harbor. The walkway will honor veterans and city founders, in observance of the city’s 375th anniversary.

The grant comes from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. State Rep. James Maroney, who came up with the idea for the walkway, said the money should be enough to pay for the first phase of the project, which includes a walkway with markers, benches and landscaping.

The Founder’s Walk planned for downtown Milford will highlight the city’s history and the contributions that veterans have made to the community.

The plan calls for replacing an abandoned road alongside Milford Harbor with a landscaped walkway that will include history kiosks, tables, a veterans memorial wall, landscaping and related environmental improvements.

“We’ll seek public input before the design is finalized,” Maroney said.

The short, abandoned road leads from New Haven Avenue to Fowler Field and runs between SBC Restaurant and the Fowler building. People may remember that it was open in the past for motorists to use as an alternate entrance to the library or ball fields. In recent years, it was closed and blocked with cement posts.

The site is where the original settlers of Milford landed, officials said.

Maroney, who helped arrange funding for the project and is credited with the idea, said the cement posts will be removed and the stretch of abandoned road will become a walk through Milford’s history. Plans are still being crafted, but Maroney said there will either be paving stones with historic information, or some type of kiosk with historical facts. There also will be tables and chairs so people can sit and enjoy the area. Also, invasive plants along that stretch of the harbor will be replaced with other vegetation so people can see the water.

A chain link fence that now separates the short roadway from the Fowler Building parking lot will be replaced with a veterans’ wall. Maroney envisions a solid black memorial wall with the names of veterans on one side and city founders on the other.

“It may be interactive,” Maroney said, describing such walls where there is room to write a message in chalk in one area.

Founders’ Walk is one of the projects born out of the 375th Anniversary Committee, created by the Milford Board of Aldermen, to celebrate the 375th anniversary of Milford’s founding.

The walkway will connect to the Memorial Bridge, which bears the names of city founders.

The Memorial Bridge was built in 1889 at the time of the city’s 250th anniversary, and the new walkway will be a natural extension of that, said Robert Gregory, chairman of the 375th Anniversary Committee.

“Each celebration committee has left something of significance to Milford and this will be the 375th’s resounding gift of history,” Gregory said, adding that he hopes the historic walk will be completed before year’s end.

Landscape architect Stephen Wing has drawn preliminary plans for the walkway.

Maroney envisions additional phases that will eventually bring more improvements to the harbor area. For now, he expects the first phase — the Founder’s Walk — to be completed by next summer.