City cuts ribbon on new Founders' Walk

A host of people gathered behind the ribbon stretched across the end of Founders’ Walk in downtown Milford last Friday afternoon to celebrate the official completion of the walkway.

Several years ago, this stretch was an abandoned asphalt road. Along the path, next to the Fowler Memorial building, stood two giant concrete blocks with a chain spanning them to keep traffic from inadvertently going there.

Trees and shrubs growing haphazardly along the bank of the adjacent harbor blocked the view of the water and the waterfall.

That’s all different now.

A graduated walkway of paving stones leads from the Memorial Bridge on New Haven Avenue to the Hotchkiss Bridge that spans the harbor. Benches have been placed along the walk, and landscaping lines each side. Simple fencing has replaced the overgrowth of trees and shrubs to afford a view of the harbor and its waterfall, and a digital sign post at the end highlights upcoming events in town.

At the top of the walkway, in front of the Fowler building, there is a Blue Star Memorial, dedicated to veterans by the Milford Garden Club.

This is the area where Milford's original settlers landed in 1639.

When Former State Rep. James Maroney was working with others to celebrate the city’s 375th anniversary, he came up with the idea to turn the area from what it was into something the city could be proud of. He thought the area should be a more fitting tribute to the city founders.

The Founders' Walk project was made possible through a $300,000 State of Connecticut grant, as well as through donations from several local organizations, including the New Haven County Realtors Association, who came up with a $10,000 grant, the Annual Milford Oyster Festival Committee, the Milford Garden Club, the Irish Heritage Society, the Milford Education Foundation, and the Devon Rotary.

Before cutting the ribbon Friday, Mayor Ben Blake tipped his hat to Maroney, whom he said not only headed the building committee that oversaw construction of the walkway but also brought a number of community groups together to contribute to the project.

Maroney said the project ties in with the mayor’s idea to create a walkable city, and he thanked all the groups that got involved, with a special shout out to Ray Macaluso of the group Westcott and Mapes.

“Most of this would have not been possible without Ray’s work, from Westcott and Mapes,” Maroney said. “He brought in the design team who did a tremendous job on this project, designing it and bringing our vision to a reality. And he also donated a lot of his personal time.”

Maroney said that he was especially pleased to see that at this year’s Milford Oyster Festival, people in wheelchairs were able to get to Fowler Field using the walkway, where in the past the steep incline was difficult to manage.