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50 Old River Road boat access expected by fall

By John Fitts

Staff Writer

CANTON – The town is moving forward with a contract for a non-motorized boat ramp at 50 Old River Road and it is expected to be in place later this year.

On Wednesday June 14, the Board of Selectmen approved $40,000 in additional funding for the ramp along the Farmington River Trail near the Public Works facility. It is one of two areas at which the town has been working to provide free public access to the Farmington River.

The town recently put the project out to bid, with Torrington based Yield Industries submitting the winning proposal for$324,420.

The plan for the ramp, which is very near a portion of severely eroded river bank that has been a makeshift access for years, 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 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.”

“This is all going to be ADA accessible, so everyone is going to be able to enjoy this,” Stephen Benben, vice president of Triton Environmental, which is working with the town on the project, told the Planning and Zoning Commission earlier this year, later adding, “With this material and this layout this is not something that’s going to be pulled out every winter and put back every spring.”

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. The town found that some soil at the site was contaminated due to past practices of spraying diesel fuel on sanding rack equipment.

In late May, Canton Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner told members of the River Access subcommittee that the bid was reviewed carefully by Triton Environmental and town staff. Skinner also said Yield industries was interviewed, has done stellar work and has specialized equipment for the job.

Additionally the town is familiar with the Yield owner Craig Bothroyd through his past work with Millennium Builders, said Skinner, adding that Bothroyd worked closely with the town and local business owners as the project manger for the first phase of the Collinsville Streetscape project.

The town had set aside $340,000 in American Rescue Plan Assistance (ARPA) funding for the 50 Old River Road project. Already, a little more than $37,000 has been spent on engineering. And the town is allotting $13,500 to inspection services and is allotting a 5 percent or $16,000 and change contingency – bringing the project to $391,808.43.

The town had already set aside $11,734.50 of capital improvement project funding for the ramp, but that, with the ARPA funding, still left the project with a $40,073.93 shortfall.

At the June 14 meeting, The Board of Selectmen voted to take $40,073.93 from the undesignated portion of the town’s Capital Improvement Plan funding.

Earlier this year, the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency and Planning and Zoning Commission approved the projects - although there were a few residents and at least one member of the Planning and Zoning Commission who spoke against the plan, contending the town could just utilize the ramp adjacent to Collinsville Canoe and Kayak. (See end of the story for a brief update on that project).

Town officials estimate the work on the 50 Old River Road ramp could be completed by the fall.

37 Bridge St.

Additionally the town is working on public access at 37 Bridge Street in Collinsville, a strip of property along the river that falls adjacent to 39 Bridge St. (Collinsville Canoe and Kayak) and 41 Bridge St., both owned by Waterfront Preservation and Management Corp.

Last June, after some controversy and two Board of Finance votes, residents voted to purchase – from the state - the riverfront property known as 37 Bridge St. for $125,000 ($35,000 was also approved for public improvements) and enter into cross land swaps and easements with the owners of 41 Bridge Street that will give the town full ownership of the boat ramp while allowing Collinsville Canoe and Kayak full access as well. Correspondingly, the owners of 41 Bridge will get control of the parking area closest to its buildings while giving the town an easement to use it to access public parking areas.

However, while the town is working on easement language and securing materials that will designate private and public parking areas, the state has not yet set a closing date for the property.

As a result, the state lease to the owners of 41 Bridge remains in effect meaning that its tenants, Collinsville Canoe and Kayak, have full control of the Bridge Street ramp for now. The store offers rentals and using the ramp with one’s own boat is $5 (per boat). A life jacket and signing a waiver are also required.

A rendering of the boat ramp and relocated trail (by just a few feet) as presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission in March.


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