Criteria for the Designation of Connecticut Greenways
In 1995 the Connecticut General Assembly acted upon the recommendations of the Governor’s Greenways Committee and passed Public Act 95-335, which institutionalized Connecticut’s greenways program. A highlight of this legislation was the establishment of the Connecticut Greenways Council. One of the Council’s duties is the development of criteria for the designation of greenways around the state.
The Public Act defines greenway as a "corridor of open space" that:
- may protect natural resources, preserve scenic landscapes and historical resources or offer opportunities for recreation or non-motorized transportation;
- may connect existing protected areas and provide access to the outdoors;
- may be located along a defining natural feature, such as a waterway, along a man-made corridor, including an unused right of way, traditional trail routes or historic barge canals; or
- may be a green space along a highway or around a village.
In order to meet the criteria for official designation as a greenway, open spaces and/or pathways must fit at least one aspect of this definition. The critical element, however, is connectivity. While a loop trail in a public park may fit many recreational and open space needs, if it offers no opportunities for connecting to a greater system it does not qualify as a greenway. Conversely, a short segment of open space along a ridgeline or waterway may be deemed part of a greenway if future plans include its linkage to a larger system.
The process of greenway designation will require not only the involvement of the Greenways Council. It will also mean that there is a commitment on the local level to a project’s long-term success as well. Officially designated recreational greenways will receive special signs to post at trailheads and road crossings; those that serve a resource protection function may also post these signs where appropriate. All of the designated greenways will be forwarded to the Office of Policy and Management for inclusion in future revisions of the State Plan of Conservation and Development, and will also be incorporated into any greenway plans developed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Greenways can be much more than linear open spaces. They can be the links from city to country, from village to village, from state to state. They can reconnect people to their communities, to rivers, fields, and hillsides, enhancing the sense of place that helps define the quality of life in Connecticut. It has been said that greenways connect the places we live with the places we love. It is the hope of the Connecticut Greenways Council that the designation process will help in the development, enhancement, and preservation of those places.
The following are the suggested criteria for the designation of greenways in Connecticut. The Greenways Council and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection may designate such areas as they deem fit these criteria. Municipalities, non-profits, or other sponsoring agencies may submit projects to the Greenways Council for designation.
Criteria for the Designation of Greenways in Connecticut
In order to be considered for official greenway designation, a project must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- The corridor connects existing open space, trail segments, historical/cultural assets; provides alternative transportation opportunity; may be of varying lengths, but connects neighborhoods to schools, town centers, parks and recreation areas, transportation centers, or open spaces.
- If the greenway is a municipal project, it must be included in local plan of Conservation and Development (or in the next revision thereof), and must be endorsed by the local government through a municipal resolution or compact;
- If the greenway is a regional project, it must be included in plans of relevant Regional Planning Agency, or Council of Governments, with endorsements by the affected municipalities; or, an inter-municipal compact may be developed between towns;
- If the greenway is a non-governmental project, it must be sponsored by organization with proven record of land use protection/recreational use, or with proven resources needed for project success; licensing, easements, or other agreements for use of state, municipal, or private land must be on file; it must be endorsed by the local government through a municipal resolution or compact;
- The segment submitted for designation may be a key link in an emerging greenway, either for conservation or recreation purposes;
- Once designated, such greenway shall be reflected in the State Plan of Conservation and Development as revised by the Office of Policy and Management and in any state-wide greenway plan developed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
- Greenway designation may be revised by The Greenways Council should the designated use change.