Says Boardman Bridge is 'jewel worth saving'
From my porch, I can't see the Boardman Bridge.
For more than 30 years on my way to and from work, I passed over or by this sentinel on the Housatonic River and gateway to Litchfield County.
Today, it sits rusting and penniless.
Horses, buggies, cars and people used to flow over the bridge just as the river flows below. Now fences stop even a pedestrian from taking a step on the historic bridge.
Maybe a squirrel ventures across its span. Vines and tattered electrical wires and lights are highlighted only by the rust and peeling paint.
It served its purpose, or has it?
A book and a movie by a Connecticut author brings an image of the past and "A Bridge Too Far." Boardman Bridge is not a relic or even related to the sacrifices made during World War II, but it is an example of the need to fight for an idea, a place, and a past that is important and must be saved.
This isn't a bridge too far nor a project too far fetched that the people of New Milford and its government cannot accomplish.
The Boardman Bridge is one of three bridges of its kind left in Connecticut, one of two in New Milford.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 13, 1976.
Since its retirement in 1984, it has fallen into disrepair and is becoming a victim of demolition by neglect while its sister at Lover's Leap majestically anchors a state park.
The bridge is owned by the town of New Milford. Neither the mayor nor the town council has come to champion this historic bridge.
I have reached out to various community members with limited success.
Attorney Terry Pelligrini has offered his support and legal expertise.
The Spectrum newspaper has loyally spotlighted the fate of the bridge, and I am sure would eagerly report and support community endeavors to save it.
Across the country, like communities have come together to save bridges from the Bridges of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Mass., and Simsbury to Michigan and Texas, to name a few.
"A Bridge Worth Saving" tells the story of a community in Michigan that saved the Marantelle Bridge. HistoricBridgeFoundation.com is also a helpful blueprint of organizing techniques our community might employ.
We need interested people and volunteers to come forward and form an organization, a corporation with a 501(c)(3) status to promote the preservation of the bridge.
No donation of time, knowledge, effort or resource is too small. 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.
As other interested and inter-contacted groups in town talk of railroad service restoration, land trusts, bike paths, scenic walks and development along the river, certainly this vintage jewel with its perfect setting is worth preserving.
"From the Porch" Newsletter 2014. New Milford Trust for Historic Preservation, Robert Burkhart, president