FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
COCA-COLA NORTH AMERICA PROVIDES MAJOR FUNDING TO SUPPORT MASSACHUSETTS, CONNECTICUT TRAILS:
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Partners with Local Organizations Enhance Trails from New Haven to Northampton
WASHINGTON, D.C., DECEMBER 5, 2006— Massachusetts and Connecticut bicyclists, runners, walkers and more will have greater access to enhanced rail-trails, thanks to a grant from Coca-Cola North America and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
The $85,000 donation will support the future connection of the Farmington Valley Greenway, the northern-most portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Connecticut and the southern-most portion of the Hampshire and Hampden Canal Trail in Southwick, Mass., and is part of a larger $500,000 grant made by Coca-Cola North America to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
"Creating green places for recreation and exercise requires the support of not only local organizations, but also committed corporate citizens, like Coca-Cola," says Keith Laughlin, president of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a national nonprofit that works with communities across the United States to transform unused railroad corridors into public trails. "The long-term benefits of this partnership, linking the two states through world-class trails, will be innumerable and span generations."
The gift to these communities will lead to the creation of a gateway presence at the MassachusettsConnecticut border, an information kiosk in Southwick, Mass., and a separate gateway presence with new parking access in Suffield, Conn. The grant will make trails more accessible to the communities as well as provide for information centers about the history and influence of the corridor.
The northern portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail will soon be a continuous 22-mile linear park with the completion of four gaps totaling more than seven miles. The trail will stretch from central Connecticut to Massachusetts, with the goal of eventually connecting New Haven, Conn., with Northampton, Mass.
"We in Southwick look forward to a day very soon when residents of our community can easily connect with Suffield through the Southwick, Mass.,Suffield, Conn., Rails-to-Trails Gateway Project," says David A. St. Pierre, chairman of the board of the Town of Southwick. "Coca-Cola's support of this project will soon help both of our communities realize the greater health, recreational and social benefits of connected trail systems."
Scott R. Lingenfelter, first selectman of Suffield, Conn., says, "We have been very fortunate to work with the Farmington Valley Trails Council, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Town of Southwick and especially Coca-Cola on this endeavor. This gift from Coca-Cola and the joint effort by all of those involved is a true testament to how the public and private sectors, and even neighboring towns, can work together to provide greater benefits to our citizens."
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with more than 100,000 members and supporters, is the nation's largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is located in Washington, D.C., and more information can be found at www.railstotrails.org.