Syracuse-Wawasee Trail Committee discussed updates regarding ongoing projects at Monday evening’s meeting.
Executive Director Megan McClellan met with several homeowners along Eli Lilly Road to discuss widening the narrow section of this trail. The committee is hoping to get donations from a few families to match the donations of neighbors. They also want to put signs on either end of the narrow stretch encouraging people who use the trail to donate to have it widened.
The rough estimate for widening this section of trail is approximately $90,000. If homeowners can raise half the funds, the committee has agreed to write grants for the remainder.
Dr. Tom Edington was named Volunteer of the Month. He was also named the new committee chairman. Erick Leffler was named vice chairman. Both will serve one term and will attend park foundation meetings. “The park foundation is important,” said Mike Buhrt, who is stepping down as chairman.
McClellan gave an update on objectives. She asked each committee member to email responses, and she received eight out of 15 responses. “It’s important for a strategic plan,” she stressed. Edington said donors especially like to see these objectives. In order to get more responses, additional time will be spent at the end of the next few meetings to discuss goals.
The results are in from Safe Routes to School Grant parent survey. The best response was from Wawasee Middle School. The school with the most walkers/bikers was the high school. In all cases, the main reason students were not using active transportation was distance, followed by speed and amount of traffic, whereas parents of high school students were more concerned about weather. Also, 16 percent of elementary and middle school parents said if there were more sidewalks, they would allow their children to walk or bike to school, whereas only 13 percent of high school parents said more sidewalks would be helpful.
Several updates were noted on trail projects, such as the Syracuse Lake portion. Workers will start pouring concrete April 15, the first date there will be no extra charge for heating. Initial plans are underway for a Tails and Trails event as a grand opening for this loop; it will be sometime in the spring.
Further inspection of the Harkless Drive right of way shows the trail will either need to be realigned or people will need to cross the road twice. The estimate to realign the road by Niblock is $40,000. The other option is to have people cross Harkless twice, once near The Frog and once closer to SR 13. The second crossing would require a flashing light, or similar, for safety. There have been requests for proposals sent to four different companies to see how much they would charge to do the whole project or part of the project.
McClellan will be presenting to Kosciusko County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau March 11. The first proposals will be for trailheads and signage.
The committee agreed to allow McClellan to take part in a webinar regarding signage on trails at a cost of $55.
Leffler donated a bike rack several months ago. It has arrived and is placed outside his Syracuse office.
The next meeting is at 6 p.m. March 16.