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Riverbend Park History Beacon Falls, CT

November 2009 Researched and written by Bob Gregorski

Note: The following information is deemed to be accurate from the sources from which it was gathered. The list of volunteer participants in this project may not be complete. This history may be amended after other information is submitted.

When the idea of creating a park at the riverbend on the Naugatuck River in Beacon Falls was presented to the Naugatuck Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited Board in 1998 by Bob Gregorski -- one of the Chapter founders and the Board endorsed the project. In November 1999, Chapter member Mike Horbal volunteered the services of his land surveying & planning company. The first site plan was drawn in November 1999 with input from River Steward Jonathan Ploski.

Some progress was made, but the Riverbend Park project needed financing and the Town of Beacon Falls needed ownership of the adjoining property owned by O & G Industries. River Stewards Harry White and Robbette Schmidt subsequently worked on the planning aspects of the project with Horbal and Ken Faroni (O &G) through 2004. Little progress was made.

In the fall 2007, the catalyst for the project was $25,000 from Alcoa offered to the Chapter by TU national representative Kirt Mayland. Riverbend was deemed "Shovel ready" by the Chapter Board. The result of the 1/8/08 meeting at the Beacon Falls town offices attended by Chapter president Bob Perrella, Naugatuck River Watershed Association (NRWA) president Bob Gregorski, First Selectman Susan Cable and Ken Faroni was to move forward with the project. Cable and Faroni were to work out the procedure to have O & G donate its Riverbend parcel land to the town. That was necessary before any construction permits could be issued. Gregorski would work with the DEP and pursue getting the required permits.

Gregorski and Don Mysling (a DEP Fisheries Biologist and river projects coordinator) met with Cable, Faroni and the Town's Emergency Service person and considered their input. After studying the site, Mysling and Gregorski agreed to make three major changes to the existing site plan: move the "curb break" to the south end of the property, construct a roadway to the river and add a "breakwater-J-hook" constructed of boulders that were on site.
Note: The multi-purpose use of the roadway use would include: emergency rescue, installing absorption booms in case of a spill on the river, fish stocking and kayak and canoe access.

(Mike Horbal Land Surveying & Planning) donated his company's services to the Chapter and drew up the revised plot plan. Gregorski wrote the project description for submission and Mysling added his comments. Mysling delivered the site plan and paper work to the DEP Water Division in late February. The request included Plan A- with a boulder placement breakwater (J-hook Vane) and Plan B-with out the breakwater.

Shortly there after, Kirt Mayland the TU Director of the Eastern Water Projects took over the project. Project engineer (Ed Leavy PE) was hired.

Then Chapter president Mike Mackniak and vice president Larry Wolff worked to bring the project to completion, which included a park sign, two park benches and dedication ceremony. The benches will be dedicated in memory chapter members Will Mraz and Neil Kingsnorth. The park dedication ceremony was held 5/16/09.

More work may be planned for the park.

Financial Donations
Alcoa -- $25,000
Katharine Matthies Foundation -- $13,000
Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter -- $3,000

In-kind Donations
Land Donation from O & G
Land Town of Beacon Falls
Mike Horbal Land Planning & Surveying $8,580

Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter :
Prior to fall 2007--The three river stewards Ploski, White and Schmidt and their supervisors Weber, McDermott and Gregorski, spent 60 hours on the project.
Total: 60 @ $25/hr. = $1,500.

Time spent on the project fall 2007- spring 2009: Bob Gregorski -20 hours,
Mike Mackniak - 20 hours, Larry Wolff -10 hours, Bob Perrella -20 hours and
Bob Nikituck - 4 hours
Total: 74 @ $25/hr. = $1,850

Total: $52,930 does not include the value of the O & G land donation and other donated work.


Trout Unlimited Chapter # 281 History

Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter TU “Brief” History

As of: June 1, 2009

First chartered as the Pomperaug Regional Chapter in 1976; name changed to Naugatuck Valley Chapter Trout Unlimited in 1985 and to Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter in 2002.

Highlights of Accomplishments in the Naugatuck River Watershed
Note: Prior to 1985 there was no concerted effort by conservation organizations to restore the Naugatuck River.

More than 40 river clean-ups were completed, 10,000 tree seedlings and bushes were planted, 18,000 trout, 3,000 broodstock Atlantic salmon and several hundred American shad were stocked, scores of bird houses were built and erected, at least $40,000 was spent on these projects; money which came from fund raisers, grants and donations.

Note: about 1,000 volunteers who in total devoted at least 10,000 hours working to improve the water quality and riparian environments did all work. Volunteers came from members of: TU, NRWA, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Zebras, 4-H, science classes grades 5-12, ecology and conservation clubs, civic and religious organizations, fire, police, recreation and public works departments.

TU Directors testified at many DEP hearings and wrote letters supporting the improvement of the water quality in the Naugatuck River Watershed.

TU and NRWA, Inc. were instrumental in the following accomplishments: supervising and funding River Stewards, opening the Naugy to fishing year long from the Kinneytown Dam south, extending the salmon season through March, petitioning for No Fishing Thermal Refuges at river/stream confluences from July 15-August 31, adding the Naugy to the DEP sea-run trout program and supporting a TMA and dam removals on the Naugy and Mad rivers, sponsoring three Eagle Scout programs and several scholarships to senior students who worked on conservation projects

River Stewards 1998-2004
The first River Steward Jonathan Ploski worked out of an office in the Seymour Town Hall. River Steward Harry White worked out of an office in Beacon Falls; space donated by Frank Hoinsky and River Steward Robbette Schmidt worked from an office in her home in Waterbury.

Here is a sample of the work that was done by the river stewards. In aggregate, the three river stewards conducted at least 20 river clean-ups, planted hundreds of trees and bushes, attended scores of meetings with local, regional and state officials and committees, worked on planning of River Bend Park in Beacon Falls, responded to oil spills and suspected pollution locations, participated in discussions about Greenways, Pin Shop Pond, Chase Brass site and dam removal, worked on Brass City Fishing Tournament, made about 15 presentations to various nature centers, groups, classes at schools and organizations, helped stock shad, herring, trout and salmon in the Naugatuck River, participated in surveys of fish and insect life in the Naugatuck River and some of its tributaries and tributary enhancement projects. The detailed reports of work done are in the River Steward file. There are more than 100 pages of River Steward Reports.

2005- 5/2009
Chapter Accomplishments -- Several river clean-ups and the River Bend Park project completed, participated in: greenway/river project discussions and 2009 Kayak Race Festival, sponsored Trout In the Classroom and Salmon In the Classroom programs in schools, initiated the improvement of stream banks and fish habitat at Jack’s Brook, supported the removal of dams, enhanced its website with information about the Naugatuck River Watershed, conducted scores of fly tying classes and several fly casting clinics, co-sponsored fishing derbies, and fishing classes.

Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter President -- Mike Mackniak
Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter -- A founder and Director – Bob Gregorski

Trout Unlimited Chapter # 281 Early History 1976-1984

Note: The history of Chapter #281 is a work in progress. Researched and written by
Bob Gregorski (6-1-09)

Changes in Chapter #281 Names
Pomperaug Regional Chapter Fall 1976 – 1984
Naugatuck Valley Chapter 1985- March 2002.
Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter April 2002 -

Fall 1976 Tom Pero from TU National invited the public to a meeting to discuss the formation of a new chapter in the greater Waterbury area. The meeting was held in the basement meeting room of the Congregational Church in Middlebury. In November 1976, the first officers and directors (Founders and Charter members) were:
Neil Kingsnorth (president), Mike Stephens (vice president), Bob Gregorski (treasurer), Jeff LaCaria (secretary), Fred Kaufman (Director) and Joe Rinaldi (membership).
Note: In the early years, the monthly meetings were held in the cafeteria of Pomperaug High School.

Highlights of the early years 1976- 1984

1977-1980 Whitlock-Vibert Boxes were stocked with 65,000 Bitteroot Brown and
5,000 Donaldson Rainbow Trout Eggs in: Sprain Brook, Nonnewaug, Weekeepeemee and Pomperaug rivers. Mike Stephens was lead person.

12/15/76 Lou Tabory was a guest speaker.

3/29/78 OPEN HOUSE A variety of demonstrations were available to the public. It was well attended.

1977-79 Kingsnorth and Gregorski were key Chapter members in the following three restoration/construction projects; Relocation of Route 8 through Naugatuck–Beacon Falls (they gave input regarding “V” deflectors, tributary confluences and huge boulder placement in the Naugatuck River; widening and rip-raping the banks of Sprain Brook section from Route 47 to the Weekeepeemee River and Pomperaug River above Heritage Village River Gardens down stream through the golf course. In the later two, the Chapter filed for and received a Cease Work Order from the Court. The contractors had been removing all gravel on the river bottom excavating down to clay and removing all vegetation from the banks that were to be covered with stone riprap and no vegetation. A compromised was reached and the projects completed under the watchful eyes of Chapter members.

11/17/79 Charlie Fox, the nationally known author of “Rising Trout” and
“The Wonderful World of Trout” and was guest speaker for the Chapter.

3/7/84 Steelhead controversy -- Some TU Chapter directors supported the establishment of a steelhead fishery in the lower Naugatuck River while TU National and some Naugatuck Valley Chapter Directors worked against it. The support group had the backing of State Senator Skowronski.

Neil Kingsnorth and Bob Gregorski (right to left ) two of the Chapter Founders received an award for their conservation work from the Housatonic Valley Association in 11/92. An award from the Chapter for twenty years of dedicated service was given to them in the fall 1996.

Note: There will be more highlights added as they are found in the research being done.