To the Editor:

Even though I can’t see the Boardman Bridge from my porch, its fate looks better than it did last year at this time.

A project that I suspected was “a bridge too far” a year ago is moving slowly but surely forward. Boardman may owe its future to another type of bridge, one not made of iron, but stronger by far.

Bridges, after all, connect opposite sides whether they are embankments, gorges or chasms.

The Boardman Bridge was built to pass over the Housatonic River but now concern for its fate has helped to bridge impossible chasms between two people.

I have learned a great deal about building bridges over the past year. In addition, I believe one person or one organization cannot accomplish everything for preservation alone.

I also learned a task of this magnitude can be accomplished when people agree to stop throwing stones and bridge past problems with positive action. It takes many people, with many interests and opposite points of view to come together to accomplish what seems to be impossible.

I reached out to someone who has different views about preservation than I but has been passionate and protective of the town of New Milford for decades.

Over a year ago I made a telephone call to the offices of the law firm of Moots and Pellegrini and asked to speak to Terry Pellegrini. He returned my call.

I said I would like to work together to try and save the Boardman Bridge, would he help? The answer was a definite yes.

From that time on a small group of concerned citizens came together to cross political and personal grounds. Our common goal was to begin a process that would result in the restoration of the Boardman Bridge. Much has been accomplished since those earlier meetings.

The process of setting up a corporation with a non-profit, 501(c)(3) status to help the town with the restoration of the bridge is progressing. This would be similar to the working relationship between the town of Simsbury and Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge, a not-for profit, tax-exempt organization.

Circuit Rider Greg Farmer from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation toured the bridge and Sega Meadows Park. He deemed the bridge and the town parks surrounding a perfect place for a preservation project and thought the bridge was structurally sound and could and should be restored.

He offered ideas for moving forward and possible ways to find funding from the Connecticut Trust and the state.

One important step needed to be accomplished first, an engineering inspection of the bridge to determine what improvements may be required to re-open the bridge to pedestrian traffic, and a cost analysis.

The inspection has been completed and the report will be forthcoming. Mayor Pat Murphy obtained the cost of the inspection with a grant from HVCEO for $15,000.

Upon hearing the good news, the New Milford Trust for Historic Preservation presented a check for $1,000 for the restoration of the bridge.

A fund has been set up to receive donations for the bridge at the town hall. In May, the law firm of Moots and Pellegrini presented a check to Mayor Murphy for $1,000 and offered a challenge to other professionals or businesses in New Milford to match or exceed its donation for the restoration of the bridge.

It will take many more people and dollars to restore the Boardman Bridge, but time and money will be more than worth it.

Besides money, volunteers are needed to clear away the brush and vines that are engulfing the structure.

The bridge will never be the viable connection it once was in a transportation sense, but it can be the gateway to a scenic park system and part of a walking/biking trail connecting Canada to the Long Island Sound.

It will be one of the scenic stops in the town that is the “Gateway to Litchfield County”.

Last year, I said “It will take this community to save this bridge. We also need the mayor and the Town Council to step forward, actively promote the preservation of the Boardman Bridge and apply for grants from the state and private and civic groups.”

The mayor has stepped forward.

Norm Cummings and Sue Tuz of The Greater New Milford Spectrum have stepped forward.

Many people of different political and preservation ideologies have already come together, but we need others to join this bridge project.

If Terry Pellegrini and I can stop throwing stones in the water and find a way to bridge a problem, anything can be accomplished. It may seem to some to be an unlikely alliance, but it is a respectful one that can save the Boardman Bridge.

Robert Burkhart

President

New Milford Trust

for Historic Preservation