Text and photos by David Hazledine
MILFORD — Ben Beer, a Milford native and vice president of sales for USI Consultants, returned to his hometown Monday, Feb. 8, to give a presentation to Milford Town Council on the feasibility of a trail connecting Milford with Waubee Lake Park. The town is currently waiting to hear if it will receive a matching federal rural local public agency grant through the Indiana Department of Transportation for $1,095,200. Town officials should receive word by early March.
The preferred route for the trail would begin near The Papers facility and Milford Fire Station at First Street and follow the railroad tracks to Turkey Creek, which would then lead southeast to CR 1150N and south to Waubee Lake along Camp Mack Road. Total length is 1.12 miles.
The route was considered the “best compromise,” said Beer, primarily because it avoids right of ways and impacting wetlands.
The proposed trail would have an asphalt surface and would include a pedestrian bridge over Turkey Creek, as well as benches, cross walk and signage.
Beer praised Clerk/Treasurer Tricia Gall for her work getting Milford’s local match of $273,800 submitted under a tight deadline in 2020. “A lot had to happen super fast,” he recalled. The match could come in part from Milford’s K21 Foundation Grant of $200,000 received in 2020.
Beer also noted there is roughly $400 million in requests competing for $100 million. “It’s a competitive program.” And if Milford’s bid is turned down, it can resubmit the following year. If Milford is successful, the work could begin in 2026. “That is how far out INDOT is programming,” commented Beer.
A funding alternative is Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s Next Level Trails program, which is also an 80-20 matching grant, Beer added. However, Milford is not as good a candidate because the Waubee Lake Trail would not have regional significance through connectivity with other trails.
According to Gall, Milford has also received support on the project from Michiana Area Council of Governments, which has, she said “stayed with us through the whole thing.” The plan is also endorsed by Rich Haddad of K21 Foundation.
“It’s been a neat experience to do something with the town of Milford,” exclaimed Beer, who reminisced about his time spent on Turkey Creek growing up, which he revisited during the study. “It’s been like a homecoming to me.”