The Riverwalk at Veterans Memorial Park has given a spark to downtown Shelton and helped residents reconnect with the riverfront. Expanding that project farther along the banks of the Housatonic, a project that is about to begin with Phase Two, makes sense.
Many American riverfronts were lost to industrialization in the late 1800s and early 1900s, as factories were built near water sources. In Shelton, a dam and canal system led to many manufacturing plants being built along the waterfront.
But times have changed. Most of the factories now are gone, and waterways such as the Housatonic are much cleaner than a half-century ago because of environmental laws.
People are beginning to appreciate the beauty of having a river go through a city center. After all, the entire reason why most urban centers were built where they are is because of access to water — for energy, transportation, etc.
The Riverwalk at Veterans Memorial Park — built on the Slab, a once prominent industrial site — has done more to transform perceptions of downtown Shelton than just about any other initiative in recent decades.
It’s become the city’s unofficial town green, where community events take place and where people meet to exercise and socialize. The walkway and park has been supplemented by the Farmers Market Building and new Rotary Pavilion.
Downtown Shelton is work in progress, and a larger Riverwalk will help bring more people to the area to enjoy the river views, participate in recreational and social activities, and take advantage the amenities of a city center.