Canton First Selectman proposes naming boat ramp after the late David P. Sinish
By John Fitts
CANTON – First Selectman Robert Bessel is formally proposing that the town name its planned river access point at 50 Old River Road in honor of the late David P. Sinish, who was a tireless boating enthusiast, instructor and advocate for the Farmington River.
“Naming the boat ramp in honor of David P. Sinish is a recognition of his tireless advocacy on behalf of river use, quality and connection to Canton and well beyond. David proposed a boat ramp in this location for a full 10 years before the Town found the funds and received the requisite approvals to move forward with construction,” Bessel wrote in the packet for the Sept. 27 Board of Selectmen meeting (See full text below).
Under the town’s recently adopted Naming Rights Policy, additional applications can be submitted within 30 days, after which selectmen will either determine the most appropriate application or set up a subcommittee to review the recommendations further.
An avid paddler, instructor, and conservationist, Sinish was a long-time board member for the Farmington River Watershed Association, a member of the Farmington River Coordinating Committee, a founder of the Connecticut Canoe Racing Association and an original member of the Feasibility Study Committee that laid the foundation for the 1994 national Partnership Wild and Scenic designation of 14 miles (now 15.1 miles) of the Farmington River between Hartland and Canton. With those organizations, and others, he spent countless hours paddling, educating, monitoring water quality and so much more.
He was a member of the Canton Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency at the time of his death and was formerly on the Board of Selectmen.
He died on June 14 after a brief time in hospice care, following a cancer diagnosis.
His family received an outpouring of support after his death from Canton residents, the paddling community, river advocacy organizations and so many others.
Sinish lived in Canton with his wife Carrie for nearly 50 years and their lives included many adventures with children Colin and Jennifer. Not surprisingly, countless activities involved time spent in nature.
The town anticipates a late fall completion for the ramp, which is near the Public Works facility and involves a 10-foot wide, ADA accessible asphalt ramp with landings and handrails - starting at the northwestern portion of the property slanting down to the Farmington River and connecting with a launch site of interlocking concrete blocks – which come in 8’ by 20’ mats – tied together by steel cables and supported by a layer of stone with separating layer of geotextile filter fabric and a grout “trench.” The Farmington River Trail will be moved several feet to the east as part of the project and the bid does include removal of any contaminated soil that is disturbed as part of that process.
In the application for the naming, Bessel writes:
“Naming the boat ramp in honor of David P. Sinish is a recognition of his tireless advocacy on behalf of river use, quality and connection to Canton and well beyond. David proposed a boat ramp in this location for a full 10 years before the Town found the funds and received the requisite approvals to move forward with construction.
David Sinish shared his love of the Farmington River in dozens of ways. He competed as a paddler at the highest levels. He taught thousands of people how to paddle and protect the Farmington River. He built kayaks by hand and sailed them daily in the Farmington. If you wanted to find David at 5 am, you went to the river. But there’s more.
David Sinish was a driving force behind federal legislation that won a Wild and Scenic designation for the Farmington River. He forged alliances with political leaders from both sides of the aisle to bring this legislation to President Barack Obama’s desk. It was one of 100 bills passed by Congress in 2011. The Wild and Scenic designation opened access to annual funds for river management activities. River Stewards and river management activities have benefited from this program for years, and will for years to come.
David Sinish brought his love of the river to his service on Canton’s Board of Selectmen, as commissioner on the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency, and as chairman of the Farmington River Watershed Association. As he neared retirement, he made sure that his legacy, the Farmington River, would be well cared for through careful recruitment of successors. I can think of no honor more fitting David’s memory than this facility designed to provide access to the river for all.”