With construction on Goat Island underway, Milford Parks & Recreation Director Gary Emory is excited to see the final phase of the Mispillion Riverwalk Greenway completed this summer. In July, Milford residents will be able to cross the bridge next to the Chaney-Wilmont Greenway to gain access to Goat Island. Visitors will be able to experience four separate ecosystems along the trail that will consist of an at grade path with raised overlook areas including benches and information panels. In addition, raised composite decking on helical anchors with observation areas will traverse the wetland sensitive areas.
“This is a dream come true to see the construction finally started,” commented Emory.
A manmade island, Goat Island was created by local shipbuilders in the 1940’s as they needed to straighten out the path of the Mispillion River to make way for the wooden subchasers that were built in Milford shipyards. These subchasers were used in the larger war effort during World War II as many of them saw service around the world including Pearl Harbor, Normandy and Japan.
The target area of the Goat Island project consists of an eight-acre island located within the city limits containing four adjoining habitat environments: high woodland, tidal flooded woodland, tidal freshwater wetland marsh and open water. These four diverse habitats located in one central area allow for unique nature study opportunities for the citizens of Milford. The proposed circuitous trail that will be developed on the site will provide an opportunity for educating visitors about the various flora and fauna that occupy the island’s four ecosystems. Education will be provided by the City of Milford Parks and Recreation staff and interpretive signs throughout the park.
According to Emory, the larger Greenway Riverwalk project benefits the community by providing residents and visitors to Milford the opportunity to travel between the city’s recreational, cultural, business and environmental attractions without use of an automobile. Visitors to the Goat Island Nature Park will benefit by hands on learning about wetlands, environmental ecology, woodland habitat and associated plant and animal interrelationships, including songbird nesting and varied insect and amphibian habitat relationships.
“I want people to see the beauty of nature right here in the center of town,” commented Emory. “It will be accessible and user-friendly to all ages.” Goat Island will be open seven days a week from dawn until dusk.
Over the last three decades Gary has dedicated his career to the creation and maintenance of the Mispillion Greenway Riverwalk, which consists of 23 phases connecting Maple Street to Goat Island. Upon completion, Goat Island Nature Park will anchor the eastern most phase of the Mispillion Greenway as the final phase of the Riverwalk project, resulting in a two mile pedestrian and bicycle path. The finishing touches of the completed Mispillion Greenway Riverwalk will come as Emory begins to retire from his post as Director of Milford Parks & Recreation.
“You could not have written the script any better,” commented Emory. “I am looking forward to coming out [to Goat Island] and enjoying it as a civilian. My hope is that people get out here and take advantage of our beautiful natural resources.”
As completion of Goat Island Nature Park is expected in July of this year, the park is expected to be dedicated during this year’s Riverwalk Freedom Festival in September.