By Keith Knepp
SYRACUSE — During its monthly meeting held Monday, May 17, the Syracuse-Wawasee Trails Committee received a detailed update via Zoom from Wyatt Huber, project manager and roadway design engineer with USi Consultants Inc., the Indianapolis firm hired to conduct the feasibility study.
The purpose of the study, which began earlier this spring, is to investigate and recommend safe trail routes for area residents and visitors in and around Syracuse Lake and Lake Wawasee.
Huber intimated that a site visit by field crew members of his team has been rescheduled from its original plan but that he hopes to have them in the area before the end of the month. He added that drone mapping flights recently were performed at eight different locations along the various trail segments. The findings will be presented to the committee at its next meeting, which is scheduled on June 21.
Desktop research has been conducted by USi regarding possible environmental concerns that might arise through the expansion of the trail, including the trail connectivity around Johnson Bay. Additionally, USi is continuing its research and verification of right-of-way issues along the proposed trail.
Huber also noted that the various utility companies with interests around the proposed trail were contacted to begin the process of coordination to ensure minimal impact to the companies’ existing infrastructure and facilities.
The planned site visit will allow for further detailing of right-of-way, utilities and environmental concerns, as well as other items that could potentially impact the trail design. Huber noted that conceptual displays will be developed and presented at the next committee meeting.
In other business:
• The committee discussed the possibility of forming its own 501(c)(3) status, separate from the Syracuse Parks Department. Doing so would allow a separate tax identification number, which would allow greater financial and fundraising capabilities for Syracuse-Wawasee Trail.
• The committee is working with John Kimpel & Associates of Warsaw on the Conklin Bay easement.
• Tour des Lakes is scheduled for Saturday, July 17, Currently, there are approximately 130 riders signed up, although the committee projects between 350-500 registrations by the time of the event.
• The committee plans to mail a four-page newsletter to residents by the end of June.
• The committee’s annual fundraising plans were discussed, perhaps utilizing Blue Barn Berry Farm and Event Center as a venue. Nothing was decided, however, late-July is a tentative possibility for hosting an event.
• Jordan Sharp, head coach of the Wawasee High School boys soccer team, suggested to the committee that team members could help during the summer/fall with trail maintenance and clean up.
• The committee’s participation in the WACF Earth Day celebration, which was held May 1, was a success. Many inquiries about the trail and the feasibility study were made during the event.
• The car show that was scheduled to take place at Oakwood Resort on June 12 has been cancelled due to multiple events and limited available space at the venue.