A year ago Melissa Ziobron made an impassioned pitch to a regional planning group for funding to continue the long-unused Airline Trail in Portland to the leg of the trail in East Hampton.
When the Midstate Regional Planning Agency voted to give $1 million to a Middletown project instead, Ziobron, who recently took office as the new state representative in the 34th House Assembly District, argued that too often smaller towns like East Hampton and Portland get overlooked for such limited funding of local projects.
Since her election, however Ziobron has vowed to work to help her small-town constituents. One of her recently filed bills calls on the state to officially recognize the Airline Trail as an historic state landmark.
"This trail is an important landmark and center for recreational activities in our community," Ziobron said recently. "We all cherish this linear trail which connects many eastern Connecticut communities and I hope to cement it in our official state’s history."
popular with cyclists, hikers and walkers, runs from East Hampton's village for miles across Connecticut's central woodlands, ending in the eastern part of the state.
It does not, however, currently connect with the portions of the trail in Portland.
In a recent piece in the Hartford Courant, columnist Peter Marteka questions why the state hasn't bothered to develop Portland's section of the trail and says the undeveloped and unmaintained portions of the trail in Portland are beginning to disappear.
"Is there any hope of connecting the Portland section with the rest of the Air Line Trail?" Marteka wrote. "With much of the right-of-way privately owned, there doesn't seem to be much hope. And with each year that passes, I see chunks of my childhood highway disappearing — but not the fond memories."