Smithfield is gearing up for an exciting enhancement to its beloved Camp Shepard property. Town Manager Randy Rossi announced plans to construct four new footbridges that will form a seamless walking loop around the camp, allowing public access to previously unreachable areas.
Last week, the Town Council greenlit a payment of $3,025 to Tom Gruczka, a respected educator and trail maintenance expert for the Land Trust, who will spearhead the bridge-building project. Rossi lauded Gruczka’s invaluable contributions to the town and praised his expertise in creating natural pedestrian bridges that blend harmoniously with the environment.
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These four strategically located bridges will hasten the opening of the walking trail to the public, providing an enchanting journey through the Camp Shepard wilderness. The first bridge, spanning 60 feet, will traverse a marshy section of the trail. The second, a remarkable 80-foot structure, will combine 60 feet of cedar walkway with stone support to cross a gentle brook. A third, smaller bridge, extending 12 feet, will replace a single wooden plank currently bridging a stream. Finally, the fourth and shortest bridge, measuring eight feet, will span a natural drainage track.
Camp Shepard, acquired by Smithfield in 2020 for $1.23 million from the YMCA of Greater Providence, stirred some controversy during the purchase. Despite initial concerns, the town’s vision for the property is now taking shape. Last summer, guided tours allowed residents to explore the camp’s 114-acre expanse, featuring a serene pond and various buildings, including two pavilions, camping quarters, restrooms, and maintenance sheds.
As the project progresses, hopes are high for an array of recreational activities and community events, such as disc golf, movie nights, paddleboat rides, and canoe rentals. The Camp Shepard subcommittee aims to preserve the majority of the property in its natural state, offering visitors a chance to savor a forest-like sanctuary.
With the addition of these footbridges, residents and visitors alike will soon be able to traverse the complete walking loop, immersing themselves in the picturesque beauty of Camp Shepard’s unspoiled terrain.