After a decade of controversy over planning, construction and finances engulfed the Fairfield Metro railroad station project, it's easy to lose track of one feature of the undertaking that's drawn little attention.

The restoration and expansion of wetlands along the property's border with Ash Creek has quietly been making progress while heated public debated focused on the project's cost overruns and the extra $7.5 million needed to finish the job.

A requirement of the permits issued for the rail depot off lower Black Rock Turnpike called for creation of new wetlands, as well as public access to those wetlands. Also required was shoreline remediation along Ash Creek.

A network of wooden boardwalks on the west side of the site rises above the manmade "three-tier" wetlands pond system, which collects fresh water runoff on the Kings Highway side of the project, then becomes an estuary into Ash Creek, eventually entering Long Island Sound. The pond system works to filter water running off the parking lot prior to its release into the creek.

"We've been doing this work concurrently" with construction of the rail station and parking lot, town Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart said.

The plans call for wetlands work to be finished by Oct. 31, just like the parking and access road. Remaining work includes the pathways along Ash Creek, where casting sands from the former industrial property are still being removed.

The new wetlands area -- accessed off Kenard Street when complete -- has already begun attracting wildlife, Barnhart said.

On a recent walk through the area, egrets, comorants and sandpipers were evident.

"It's really turned out quite nicely," Barnhart said.

Visitors also are likely to see swans, but those, along with the cut-out image of a coyote, are fake. Barnhart said the decoys were posted in the area in order to frighten Canada Geese and keep them from overpopulating the area.