Since the early 2000s, Guilford resident Pam Simonds has advocated for the construction of a multi-use, 25-mile path for pedestrians and cyclists that runs along the shoreline from New Haven to Madison.
"We are getting there with some adjustment to the dream," she said of the Shoreline Greenway Trail. "In our town there is not one single bike trail that is safe off-road, yet in the other three towns of Branford, East Haven, Madison we have built sections of trail."
Designing the section in Guilford has proved to be difficult, according to the town engineer.
“We don’t have an old railroad line we could follow or old trolley line which would be great,” Guilford town engineer Jim Portley said. "I think you wouldn’t have any real opposition if that’s the case.”
Longtime Guilford resident Patricia Klindienst said that since September more than 500 residents have signed a petition urging the Guilford Board of Selectmen to vote against building the first phase of the trail in Guilford.
"They have an idea in their head of what they want," Klindienst said. "But this is not what the town is going to get and people are shockingly unconcerned with how damaging this is to residents and businesses."
Her concerns range from the environmental impact to a lack of transparency in the planning process and the design not being safe for pedestrians and cyclists.
"We need to give it back to the town and do what’s right for Guilford," Klindienst said. "It’s not about the Shoreline Greenway Trail, it’s about our town and the need for professional planners to do a bike-ped plan."
Simonds, who is the co-chair for the Shoreline Greenway Trail organization, said the group wants to address the concerns of businesses and property owners along the proposed trail.
"A lot of the concern of the opponents to the trail is about eminent domain and that is not anything we would ever condone," she said.
After Tuesday night's packed public hearing, it is up to the Board of Selectmen to vote on approving the start of construction. They meet next Monday, but it is not known if the trail will be on their agenda.