Construction to begin on Universal Access Trail around Bicentennial Pond
Soon there will be a new trail around Bicentennial Pond accessible for individuals with limited mobility. In March 2016, the Town was awarded $253,471, or 80% of the total project cost, from the CT DEEP Recreational Trails Grant Program to construct the 0.7 mile trail. “This project has been a long time in the making,” according Mansfield’s Environmental Planner, Jennifer Kaufman. Funded by a previous grant, project design detailed construction, and cost specifications were completed in 2013. After a bidding process, the contract was awarded to Earth Dynamics, LLC based in Coventry, CT.
The accessible trail is designed to afford access to natural areas around the pond that are currently inaccessible to those with limited mobility. Currently, there is a wheelchair accessible path to the beach and swimming area but no way for someone in a wheelchair to travel deeper into the park. The trail is designed to meet the accessibility codes outlined by the US National Parks Service and will replace the existing loop trail at Mansfield’s most often used recreation area. The surface of the trail will consist of a compacted layer of dense graded stone dust, with additives to strengthen the surface.
Bicentennial Pond Recreation Area, situated in Mansfield’s 455-acre Schoolhouse Brook Park, is the site of numerous recreational and educational activities including:
- Swimming, hiking, mountain biking, picnicking and concerts;
- Mansfield’s municipal summer camp program (hosting approximately 750 children each summer);
- Nature study and physical activities for Mansfield Middle School (MMS);
- Access to 8.54 miles of Town trails within in Schoolhouse Brook Park; and
- Access to the Nipmuck Trail, a state-designated greenway beginning in Mansfield and traveling north to the Nipmuck Forest in Union, CT on the Massachusetts border
In addition to the trail, several other amenities will be constructed as part of the project, including interpretive signage, an outdoor classroom area, a fishing pier, a viewing area to showcase the dam and pond, and an area that better defines the trail entrance from the Middle School and the Bicentennial Pond parking lot. In addition, there will be a moderately sloped path leading from the playground to the pond.
Construction is expected to begin on May 30th and will be complete in the fall of 2017. The pond will remain open during construction. Certain portions of the existing trail around the pond may be closed during certain periods of the construction.