At a Glance

A green infrastructure “parklet” restores beauty, biodiversity, and ecological function to a neglected urban site while connecting it to a larger riverine trail system and managing stormwater runoff.

Project Description

Recognizing the potential of the Mill River, a body of water long associated with industry, as a natural and recreational resource for the city through which if flows, the City of New Haven created the Mill River Trail Framework Plan in 2017. The plan aims to reclaim the river as the city’s central corridor by creating a riverside trail that links over 300 acres of green space and reconnects citizens to each other and to nature. Separately, in attempt to address water quality in river, Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound (CFE/STS) produced the Mill River Watershed Based Plan. Among other strategies, the plan called for the implementation of both grey and green infrastructure to manage stormwater and prevent Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) and urban runoff discharges to the Mill River during heavy rain.

At one particular site along the proposed Mill River Trail, a 12,000-square-foot section of dead-end, unused roadway suffers from frequent flooding and has become an eyesore due to dumping. CFE/STS recognized that this area could become both a public recreational asset and manage stormwater runoff to reduce CSOs. In an effort to retrofit the site to optimize stormwater management and improve its ecological function CFE/CTS turned to Biohabitats.

After reviewing background information, visiting the site, and analyzing its hydrologic conditions, Biohabitats developed contract drawings and prepared a cost estimate for a green infrastructure stormwater management design based on a preliminary concept that had been prepared for the Mill River Watershed Based Plan. The design calls for the removal of impervious surface and the creation of a “parklet” featuring bioretention practices, public gathering areas, native plantings, and a multi-purpose path, which will link to the larger Mill River Trail.

When complete, the parklet will not only receive and treat runoff from the adjacent roadway, it will also enhance the beauty, connectivity, biodiversity, and ecological function of the Mill River Trail and the surrounding Fair Haven community.



Hudson River

Physiographic Province

Coastal Lowlands


Mill River, Long Island Sound

Expertise Areas

Coastal, Community, Infrastructure, Urban Ecology, Water


Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound


New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Project Team
  • City of New Haven
  • Mill River Trail Advocates