With trail network expanding, Shelton dog park adds new barn

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — As the city’s trails system has grown over the past two decades so, too, has the need for more space for equipment storage.

This past month, that need has finally been met.

The Shelton Trails Committee, at a special gathering on June 30 that included Mayor Mark Lauretti, members of the Board of Aldermen, among others, celebrated the completion of a new two-story barn on the Shelton Dog Park property.

“By using city employees for painting and electrical work, plus lots of volunteer efforts, we completed the project well within the allocated budget,” said Trails Committee Chair Bill Dyer. “The new barn with the unique ‘Hank the Hiker’ weathervane will be a real asset of the city for decades to come.”

Dyer said that in the past 25 years the city’s trails network has expanded from 4 to 31 miles, which are maintained by the Trails Committee and other volunteers.

Natural Resource Manager Teresa Gallagher said this new barn replaces the old barn — which was built in the 1800s and is near collapse. Gallagher said the old barn’s framing is askew and the footing on one corner is tipping over.

It also did not have the space necessary for all the equipment, she said.

To accomplish the necessary maintenance, Dyer said the committee used state and federal grants to acquire a John Deere Gator, DR field mower, and numerous power and hand tools.

“We outgrew the small red barn at the dog park and two years ago approached (Lauretti) and the Board of Aldermen to obtain a new barn,” Dyer said.

Dyer said it was just as the pandemic hit that the Trails Committee and Conservation Commission members met with Lauretti to discuss a new barn for equipment with a second floor for meeting space.

Dyer said all agreed that an 18-foot by 24-foot, two-story barn would meet the requirements. The ground floor will be for equipment storage with the upstairs for equipment maintenance and meetings.

“(The Trails Committee members) needed a space where they could work on tool maintenance or make trail signs, and they need electricity,” Gallagher said. “Up until now, that was all done at people’s homes or sometimes outdoors on the ground next to the dog park.”

“The city will outfit the barn with electrical outlets, lighting and second floor HVAC system, plus landscaping and bring water to the area,” Dyer said. “The Trails Committee will ‘fit-up’ the new barn with equipment hooks, shelves and maintenance benches. Removing all the equipment and supplies from the old barn will greatly relieve the stress on it.”

Gallagher said the Gator and DR need routine maintenance and repair, for example, and shovel handles need to be replaced. The new barn has a work bench where they can work on these things.

The Trails Committee has also been holding its meetings at the new barn, freeing up a meeting room at City Hall.

Last year, the Board of Aldermen approved borrowing $98,000 for construction. The building is on the grounds of the park, at the intersection of Route 108 and Nells Rock Road.

The funds are covering the foundation and barn, drainage, painting, utilities and lighting, storage shelves, second-floor insulation, meeting room furniture and rough-in work for septic piping.

“It was important for the new barn to look nice at such a visible and popular location in Shelton,” Gallagher said. “Mayor Lauretti wanted an attractive post & beam style barn, and we were able to find one that was prefabricated at the Barn Yard in Bethel.”