SYRACUSE — Syracuse-Wawasee Park Foundation Trails Committee Executive Director Megan McClellan kicked off the committee’s April 15 meeting with news of an award she received on behalf of SWTC from Greenways Foundation of Indiana naming Syracuse-Webster Road Trail “outstanding trail project.”
Though it is relatively short, the trail has “high impact,” said McClellan, connecting high numbers of children to schools among other benefits. “Little trails can make a difference,” she added.
The committee is anxiously awaiting the announcement of Next Level Trails grants, part of Governor Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Connections infrastructure program.
SWTC is expecting at least a 50 percent matching grant for its $1.2 million Conklin Bay Trail project, which has reached the next level of review. Unlike many other applicants, Conklin Bay Trail is “shovel-ready,” said McClellan. Nevertheless, she admitted the wait was “a little scary.”
Meanwhile, SWTC is actively searching for possible new trails and investigating areas in need of better connectivity. McClellan informed the committee she talked with Mike Noe, Syracuse town manager, about possible improvements to a stretch of Chicago Street near the Lakeland Youth Center where many Wawasee High School students cross SR 13. Noe, said McClellan, is “actively engaged in the process.” She also suggested the new trails subcommittee look into SR 13 crossings in the immediate vicinity.
In light of recent reports about billboards at the Cornelius Road Trailhead, where SWTC has a kiosk, McClellan assured members, “The kiosk is not in danger.” Much of the confusion surrounding the billboards stems from conflicting surveys of the area, some of which show the parcel of land to be lake bed. The mystery of who exactly owns the land will likely not be solved until it is surveyed again.
During maintenance reports, the committee discussed renting a Bobcat to clear grass and moss encroaching on Cornelius Trail near the kiosk. McClellan also reported a maintenance plan should be completed after Easter and includes using a motorized broom to sweep debris off trails.
Unfortunately, she added, in some areas, the debris cannot be simply brushed away but needs to be removed, which, in some instances, is prohibitively labor intensive with available manpower.
Trail clean-up is 5 to 7 p.m. May 10, starting at the Syracuse Community Center. Participants are encouraged to bring shovels and brooms. “It makes a real impact,” McClellan noted.
Upcoming events include Tour De Lakes, which has a planning meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, in the trail office at 801 N. Huntington St., Syracuse. Sponsors for the event are also needed. The sponsorship deadline is May 31. There are 32 registrants for Tour De Lakes, which takes place July 20.
The Bike Rodeo takes place 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 4 at the Syracuse Community Center. McClellan thanked Wawasee Kiwanis volunteers for helping with children.
As April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, McClellan also thanked her volunteer committee with bucket planters of thyme in recognition of the time they donate to the committee.