The Mill River Trail, a collaborative process and best practice framework
Thursday, October 25, 2018
1:45 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EDT
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The Mill River Trail project began with a group of volunteers wielding machetes and trash bags to clean up a
neglected urban riverbank. These efforts catalyzed a collaboration by local environmental groups, private
property owners, the City of New Haven and CT DEEP to plan, build and maintain the trail. An important
link in a larger New Haven Greenways plan and coordinated with Mill River Watershed Plan, the Mill River
Trail will provide alternative transportation opportunities and public access to the river, connecting New
Haven Harbor to East Rock Park and beyond. As a design pilot for coastal easement implementation, the
project includes native plantings and riverbank bio-stabilization improve resilience and restore habitat. The
last mile of the Mill River runs through an industrial district and low resource neighborhood district with a
legacy of contamination and quality of life concerns. By bringing public attention and active recreational
access to the Mill River this project will support the health and safety of New Haven residents and our local
(1) An integrated design that includes extensive outreach and a participatory approach for a safe and
(2) The tactical collaboration of municipal government and designers to leverage community-led efforts
with needed financial resources and technical assistance.
• The importance of good design. Investing in design and setting standards bears benefits well beyond the
project at hand.
• The community engagement process. The Mill River Trail project utilized multiple strategies for inclusion in
planning, including site walks, community meetings, social media, and opportunities for volunteer involvement in
the creation of an Urban Oasis.
• Collaboration between City departments and stakeholders. The Mill River Trail project involved the
collaboration of engineers, landscape architects, planners, and professionals with various other areas of
expertise. The City convened a committee to steer the project including community members, City employees,
• The importance of coastal management ordinances and public access easements. Forward-looking land use
regulations have the potential to embed and institutionalize opportunities for the future even before the means
to carry out projects are available
• As well as further insights on implementation, the bid process, and the construction process, which
should be complete by the time of CT Trails Conference 2018.
Eliza Shaw Valk
Aicha Woods, email@example.com