Trail ‘gap’ safety assured by town

By LISA CAPOBIANCO
STAFF WRITER
With the proposed plan to close the “Plainville gap” of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, the town has assured the safety of a portion of the project that a local resident recently expressed concern about.
The town of Farmington plans to extend the trail from Red Oak Hill Road in Farmington, over Route 6 and into Northwest Drive in Plainville next year. Farmington will construct a multi-use trail next spring, with the hope of extending the work over the Plainville town line to terminate at a new trailhead/parking lot with a covered pavilion, cement pad, and a bike repair station at the northeast intersection corner of Johnson Avenue at Northwest Drive.
Covering a route of 84 miles long, the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail runs from New Haven to Northampton, Mass., and is known to be one of the most historic greenways in New England. But a nine-mile gap exists between Farmington and Southington.
During a Town Council meeting held last month, Plainville resident Robert Mercer expressed concern about the location of the proposed pavilion to be constructed on Northwest Drive. Mercer said the height of the proposed structure creates a safety issue for planes landing at Robertson Airport.
“It’s a safety issue for not only the aircraft, but also for people who might be there when something goes wrong,” said Mercer. “I hope the Council will reconsider this and move the pavilion and the walkway a little farther to the east.”
But town officials recently assured the public that the location of the pavilion will not pose any danger to the airport. After that September meeting, Town Manager Robert Lee discussed Mercer’s concerns with Director of Planning and Economic Development Mark DeVoe, who conducted some analysis of the pavilion’s location with respect to the airport before it was presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
DeVoe said the pavilion at the proposed head parking facility for the Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway will not pose a threat in regards to noncompliance with Plainville’sAirport Approach Zone. Gail Lattrell from the Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) and Bill O’Leary from Interstate Aviation also agreed with DeVoe’s analysis after reviewing the plans for the pavilion.
DeVoe said the proposed structure is six feet below the actual runway.
“It needs to be at or above the runway [before] the Airport Approach Zone would even kick in,” said DeVoe. “It’s essentially a non-issue. It has to be higher than the airport before it becomes an obstruction issue.”
“It’s not in the direct flight of people who are landing at the runway,” added Town Manager Robert Lee. “Not only is it not in direct flight of the runway, [but also] it’s 150 feet to the east of the runway.”

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