NEW MILFORD - The New Milford River Trail Association is on its way to raising enough money to pave part of a trail that will connect the riverfront to the downtown.

The association has raised $14,400 this month, just short of its $15,000 goal for the Young’s Field Riverwalk and Greenway, which will include an environmentally-friendly paved surface along the 1/4 mile trail from Veterans Bridge to Patriot’s Way.

“There's a very strong consensus on connecting our town with the Housatonic River,” association chair Tim O’Brien said. “This is the most prominent location so this project will beautify the river and make it more usable for recreational activities.”

Lisa Arasim, co-founder of the association, said most of the money has come from donations from residents, showing how excited they are for the project. The association surveyed residents and found 82 percent wanted a riverside trail.

“I think people are getting excited about the fact that there’s going to be something like this in the downtown area,” she said.

The town receieved an $180,000 grant in 2007 to build the 10-foot-wide greenway along the river, address erosion along the riverbank and plant native shrubs and trees. But the appropriations for the money were delayed and the town did not receive the money until about five years later, O’Brien said.

“But as time goes by, the money was not worth as much as it used to be, so they discovered there was not actually enough to do a paved trail,” he said.

The association then decided to raise money so the trail could be paved, rather than gravel. The pavement will be environmentally friendly as the rainwater will soak into the asphalt, rather than washing pollutants into the river.

With a paved road, more people—from bikers, to those in wheelchairs, to parents with strollers—can use the road, O’Brien said.

“The grant is about beautifying the New Milford riverside and creating a recreational trail for many types of non-motorized transportation or recreation,” he said.

The dream is to create a 13-mile trail from the Brookfield border to Gaylordsville. The trail would connect to the Western New England Greenway, which connects trails from the Long Island Sound to the Canadian border.

The Young’s Field Riverwalk and Greenway is the first step to realizing this dream, Arasim said.

“This is a vital piece to it,” she said. “This is the central hub.”

The association is having a Spin-a-Thon fundraiser on Sept. 24 at The New Milford Sports Club. Residents can donate $20 to participate in spin classes at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. Another fundraiser is on Oct. 15 in Clatter Valley Park, while participants race in a biking obstacle course.

If the association exceeds its $15,000 goal, it hopes to build a plaque recognizing organizations that donated more than $250 to the project.

“I have no problem giving more than [$15,000] to the project,” Arasim said.