State funds to aid completion of Founders’ Walk in Milford

Milford resident Kevin Overbaugh makes his way up Founders Walk in 2018.

Milford resident Kevin Overbaugh makes his way up Founders Walk in 2018.

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

MILFORD — The project to redesign the roadway and parking lots at Wilcox Park and Founders' Walk is ready to begin after receiving funding from the state, according to city officials.

The State of Connecticut and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection authorized a grant-in-aid for $1.5 million to redesign the roadway and parking lots at Wilcox Park and Founders Walk.

“This funding is for phase two of the Founders Walk project,” said Mayor Ben Blake at Monday’s Board of Aldermen meeting. “Back seven or eight years ago, we did Phase 1 of Founders Walk, and as part of that, the Connecticut Realtor’s Association Provided us with $20,000 for a conceptual design for Phase 2.”

Blake said Phase 2 extends Founders’ Walk to the boat launch and redirects the road heading out, Shipyard Lane, in a safer way between the tennis courts and the baseball fields.

“Over the last couple of projects we’ve done over the years, we’ve had this in mind,” he said. “For example, when we installed the playground about four years ago, we moved it behind the tennis courts, anticipating Phase 2 of Founders’ Walk.”

Founders’ Walk is a beautification project along with the head of the harbor where Milford’s settlers landed in 1639. The walkway runs from the Hotchkiss Bridge up to Memorial Bridge on New Haven Avenue.

In 2018, the building committee, local officials and the community held a ribbon-cutting for the improved walkway. The project replaced the abandoned road next to the Fowler Building with a landscaped path connecting historic downtown with the cultural and recreational opportunists at Fowler Field.

The state of Connecticut and DEEP also approved a grant-in-aid for $750,000 for the creation of a safe walkway along the Wepawaug River underneath the railroad crossing.

“Phase 2 of this walkway project is going to take us all the way to the Jefferson Bridge,” said Blake.

Phase 2 of both projects is the last phase to complete the walkways, said Blake.

“I think both of these projects are going to be a great benefit to right behind the library and on the other side of the river,” said Aldermen Scott Marlow.

Aldermen Anthony Giannattasio said he hoped the capacity at the parks’ lots remained the same and that the re-routed road was safer than the one it replaced.

“I just want to make sure those things are followed through with because I think those are the most important things other than the aesthetics of the walkway,” Giannattasio said.