It might become easier to walk around Weston

WESTON — A plan to bring sidewalks to town is one step closer.

The Board of Selectmen recently approved the community connectivity sidewalk project after receiving largely favorable comments for the plan.

“We are such a car centered town, as is the area and the whole region,” said Andrea Chase, a Weston resident. “Anything that makes this a more walkable town is a great addition.”

The Western Council of Governments awarded the town a $1.5 million grant in January 2019 to build the network of sidewalks. This came months after the town was awarded nearly $398,000 in state funds by the state Department of Transportation’s CT Community Connectivity program.

The money would help build a network of sidewalks between town hall, the library, the Senior Center, the schools, St. Francis of Assisi Church and the shopping center. It would also help to improve the intersection at School Road.

First Selectman Chris Spaulding said the town is not anticipating doing a lot of work in the center of the municipal complex because of insufficient funding.

“We do anticipate in the future having a more robust sidewalk network on the internal there, but we simply did not have the money in this piece of grant funding,” he said. “The key intention of this was to basically create safe paths of travel for people who are currently traversing: both seniors who are going to the center and the library, and children we know are walking in these areas.”

Carol Baldwin said she liked the idea of the connectivity plan, but her biggest concern was the crossing near the shopping center.

“I hate the thought of kids going across there and some guys not expecting someone and they’re rushing to the train station,” Baldwin said.

Spaulding said the town is working with extensively with the state Department of Transportation who would look to implement flashing signals for drivers to address this concern.

Chase also said concerns about children’s safety have to be kept in the context they are largely already walking these routes.

“They are pretty much walking all of the paths and this is simply going to make it safer, easier and more attractive,” she said.

Some residents also questioned if the route along the softball fields could be reconsidered as well as a connection to Bisceglie Park.

But Spaulding said this was only the first phase and there were wasn’t enough money right now for this proposition. He said though it will likely be an expensive proposition he would love to see the sidewalk system eventually connect to Bisceglie Park and back to the schools in the future.

“But it’s something we dream about and if, again, grants come up that look like they’re right for that we will certainly consider applying for it,” Spaulding said.

The plan will be reviewed next by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Historic District Commission. Town officials have said they hope to have the construction done by the next school year.