Long dismissed as a polluted and "dead" river due to a legacy of industrial abuse, the Naugatuck River has made a remarkable comeback over the last several decades, and is increasingly a destination for anglers, paddlers and sightseers. The NRG will provide access and reconnect communities to the river that have historically turned their backs on it, with waterfront promenades, overlooks, boat launches, and fishing access points all figuring into greenway plans. The multiuse trail will provide a high quality and attractive corridor that will accommodate both walkers and persons riding a bicycle safely.
The communities along the Naugatuck River are also recovering from the loss of the industrial base that grew up along the river and once drove local economies. The NRG is envisioned as one way to help communities reclaim the river as a driver of local economies and a way to improve local quality of life. The NRG will draw sightseers, cyclists and recreationalists to the valley, and will provide opportunities for local businesses to capitalize on this increased tourist traffic. At the same time, the NRG will give local residents a local multiuse trail to recreate on rather than travelling to trails elsewhere, and will improve the health and quality of life of those who use it. Since many of the communities along the trail route are in close proximity to each other, the trail will provide a safe and convenient non-motorized alternative for commuting in the valley for those who cannot or would rather not use a personal motor vehicle or public transit. These benefits have already been borne out on open sections of NRG, as the trail has become a popular destination and meeting place among residents and non-residents alike, and as a means for transportation. These economic and quality of life benefits will increase as more trail sections are built. See the 2017 Progress Report for recent progress.