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Resident's Gift: $200K for Newtown Sidewalks

Newtown resident Joseph Draper will contribute $200,000 to a fund to build sidewalks to link Newtown schools and churches and allow the community to better enjoy Newtown on foot, the town announced this week.

First Selectman Pat Llodra said Draper, a businessman and the son of Newtown pediatrician Dr. Thomas Draper, noticed how Newtown's churches "line up" in a straight line down Church Hill Road and decided to contribute to the effort.

"Wouldn’t it be wonderful to connect those, as well as Hawley School and Sandy Hook?" said Llodra, echoing his words. "Wouldn’t it be wonderful to connect people in a neighborly way?"

The donation is consistent with ongoing, years-in-the-making efforts by the town's land use department to construct a sidewalk "loop" in a large square around Newtown, from the flagpole down Church Hill Road to Sandy Hook center, then down Washington Avenue to Newtown High School, up Wasserman Way and back to the flagpole via Main Street, Llodra said. Additional sidewalk extensions are also planned in the area.

Llodra said Draper's initial goal, in line with the Children's Memorial Walkway mission, would focus on developing a sidewalk line extending from the flagpole, a section the town has never been able to complete.

"Their overarching vision is to connect people with sidewalks to allow them to enjoy our community more — in particular, to connect Sandy Hook and Newtown all the way to the flagpole," Llodra said.

The Children's Memorial Walkway fund specifically promotes a sidewalk linking Sandy Hook to the flagpole in memory of the children lost in the Dec. 14 shooting. Dr. Tom Draper is a primary for the group.

"We are no longer strangers but villagers looking out for one another, particularly the young, old and frail," representatives write on the foundation's profile on the town-supported site newtowncharities.org. "A wide, well-built walkway will connect churches, schools and parks with our major areas of commerce that will encourage physical activity and unify our community."

To learn more about the Children's Memorial Walkway fund or donate to their efforts, visit their profile on the town's charity site.
Wayne Addessi January 13, 2014 at 06:59 AM
I would also love to see lanterns added to the plan too. Also bike lane/paths should be considered along the street painted into the road.
Mary McH January 13, 2014 at 07:49 AM
This is part of what's missing in town. I've walked from St. Rose to the library and Edmund town hall and it is sketchy once you leave the sidewalk. This is a wonderful gift.
A. G. P. January 13, 2014 at 08:21 AM
First, thank you Mr. Draper for your most generous gift. Second, I recently saw (in Champain IL) bike paths in the sidewalk, not the rd. Third, be careful of putting expenses on people who didn't sign up for them. Many chose Newtown because it's cheaper than Ridgefield, regardless of sidewalks.
Wayne Addessi January 13, 2014 at 08:34 AM
Bike paths on sidewalks good idea too. Nantucket MA., joins biking in sidewalks in certain areas where sidewalks are wide enough to accommodate both. An ordinance for maintaining walks are necessary with regard mainly for smow removal and clearing if ice naturally for liability purposes. Generally a municipality can't manage every area of sidewalks and having owners maintain there walks makes sense to a large degree. Over time as walks deteriorate a joint effort with town support is necessary.
John Boccuzzi Jr. January 13, 2014 at 09:43 AM
Thank you Mr. Draper. What a wonderful vision to be able to walk down Church and enjoy the top by foot. I also like Wayne's comment about Bike paths and routs to make it safe for cyclist. All of these ideas are in the spirit of making our town easier to enjoy! I look forward to hearing more about this project. maybe some local Boy Scout troops can get involved.

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