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."