Trails in Indiana

The Richmond Trails Summit: Richmond Innovation Center, March 17, 2012.

Scott Zimmerman, Richmond City Planner and President of the Society for the Preservation and Use of Resources (SPUR), corralled diverse groups of bike –ped advocates for this one day conference. The group of mountain bike enthusiasts, city, county, state officials,  trail advocates and  representatives from Ohio greenways included  the American Discovery Trail (ADT), the Indiana Department of  Natural Resources (DNR), Healthy Communities of Henry County, the Indiana Trails Fund (ITF), the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council (HRTC), the Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway, National Road Heritage Trail (NRHT), the Vandalia Committee of Coatesville, Indiana, Bike Richmond, the City of Richmond, Richmond-Columbian properties, the Cope Center, the Richmond Adventure Mountain Biking (RAM), the Cardinal Greenway, the Hayes Arboretum, the Ohio Preble County Park District and the Friends of Preble County Park.

 The meeting exceeded expectations in stirring up support for area trails and greenways and served to create a resonance within the group of trails advocates who unanimously supported the idea of another trail summit.

Representatives spoke of the state of greenways, bikeways, trails, pathways, parks, events and connectivity.

The meeting was sponsored by SPUR, and moved quickly.  Representatives from RAM spoke about partnering with the Indiana DNR to build mountain bike trails within Richmond’s 175 acre Hayes Arboretum.

Mike Stosberg represented Bike Richmond and touted successes in extending bike ways simply by asking.  He won a revocation of a “no bikes’ ordinance for downtown Richmond by simply asking.  No one really wanted bikes restricted from downtown, but the law had been on the books.  Through private donations, a Richmond bike map was printed.

Preble County, Ohio, east of Richmond, had representatives from this unfunded Park district, supported by Friends of Preble County Park.  A family donated their historic farm to establish the park.  They spoke of the possibility and desire to connect the park to the New Creations Park in Dayton, Ohio.

Angie Pool, Executive Director of Cardinal Greenways in Indiana announced a planned ribbon cutting in Richmond this spring or summer for the Grant-Wayne counties portion.  Angie expressed that “Trails bring people to our community”, creating friendships within and along the expanse of the 62 mile long trail.  Crime on the trails within the Cardinal Greenways system is virtually non-existent and, in fact, Angie cited the trail as aiding crime reduction with the eyes of travelers serving to deter crime.

Jeff Ray of Henry County Healthy Communities reported the letting of the Wilbur Wright Trail on February 8, 2012; the culmination of a seven year old project.  Two miles of the trail will be paved to State Road 3.  The two miles will form part of the National Road Heritage Trail and plans call for securing 13 more miles of additional land for the corridor.  One mile of the Wooly Bear Trail west of New Castle is open now as a rustic trail in Kennard, Indiana.

Jeremy Mosoni of the Cope Environmental Center with 104 acres south of U.S. 40 has three miles of hiking trails and spoke of the four different eco-systems on the property.

Keith Moore promoted the Wayne County Challenge, a series of 5k runs which attracts a growing number of participants of all ages.

News that the Wayne County Resource Inventory Council, funded through the county commissioner’s budget and in-kind support from Richmond, maintains a set of maps ably produced by Gunty Atkins.  Conferees were told of the amazing number of detailed maps available at Waynet Maps and Wayne County Government.

Greg Midgley spoke of the 150 mile long National Road Heritage Trail through Indiana of which about 42 miles are open. He also explained that the Vandalia Trail that he has worked on for a number of years has three miles completed from Amo to Coatesville.  The 12.5 mile stretch between Amo and Greencastle has 7.5 miles now open with hopes of filling in the gaps.  Also mentioned was the news of the Hendricks Parks and Recreation receiving a Transportation Enhancement (T.E.) grant to acquire eight miles of corridor land to extend the Vandalia from Amo to Cartersburg.

Patrick Hayes of the American Discovery Trail (ADT) in Ohio reminded the assembly that “all trails are local”.  The ADT has two separate routes in Indiana which start from the trail splitting in Elizabethtown, Ohio, right at the Indiana border.  Jeff Edmondson of the ADT in Indiana spoke about the effort to get the Trail off of county roads and on to trails wherever possible.  Anecdotally, he cited that a number of people  actually cross the entire lower 48 on the ADT every year.

Gary Schlueter represented the Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway.  He noted that of the eight miles from Metamora to Brookville, one three mile section and a one mile section are open.  The towpath, owned by the DNR, has been blocked by a.  He hopes the issue will be resolved this year. The Byway received status as an Indiana Byway in 2008, noted Phyllis Mathesson, and runs from Lawrenceburg to Hagerstown with loops to Richmond, Liberty, Hagerstown, Oldenburg and Batesville back to Highway 52 along Indiana Route 46.  The group purchased the former McLynn Campground and renamed it Gateway Park, a 33 acre facility which now houses a museum, a dining/conference center and 40 camp sites along Duck Creek. Signs now mark portions of the Byway.

Steve Morris of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources spoke about the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreational Plan (SCORP), Indiana’s five year parks and recreation plan, a requirement to receive funding from the Department of the Interior

Matt Stegal of the Richmond-Columbian Property described the development of walking  and biking  paths of the historic sections of Richmond and connecting various neighborhoods for the benefit of the community and to benefit tourism.

Bob Jacobson spoke of the contributions of the Starr-Gennett Foundation, deriving from the former Starr Piano and Gennett Recording companies Richmond once played home to.   The Foundation invites the world to visit the city and trace musical roots and heritage from its offices in the historic Gennett Mansion.

Bill Thistlewaite pointed out the City of Richmond legacy of Glenn Miller Park, founded in 1888, at the crossroads of US 27 which traverses the US from Florida to Canada and US 40, the Old National Road.

Mario Vian of the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council (HRTC) introduced the United States Bicycle Route (USBR) System and Indiana’s partnership in promulgating USBR #35 from LaPorte County to Louisville.  He also invited participation in helping promote and establish future routes.

Richard Vonnegut, Vice Chairman of HRTC capped the event with a talk synthesizing how trail connectivity might enhance trail building experiences and effectiveness in the Richmond area.

Congratulations to Scott Zimmerman and his SPUR team and to the City of Richmond for an informative and satisfying event!