By Keith Knepp
SYRACUSE — Monday evening’s monthly meeting of the Syracuse-Wawasee Trails Committee brought the group one step closer to finalizing the expansion feasibility study being conducted by USI Consultants Inc. of Indianapolis.
‘The multi-million dollar projects would not only improve the existing trail system, which encompasses sections of the town of Syracuse, Syracuse Lake and Lake Wawasee, but would greatly expand the trail to numerous other areas of the Lakeland area.
Wyatt Huber, project manager and roadway design engineer with US Consultants, along with his colleague Corey Daly, landscape architect, spoke to the committee for nearly one hour, primarily focusing on the estimated engineering fees to create the expanded trail. Estimates were given for multiple portions of the proposed trail, including the various degrees of improvement of existing resources and new construction of the trail.
Other issues that Huber pointed out included right-of-way costs, mitigation, relocation and acquisition costs that would be necessary to expand the trail.
Tentatively, the draft of the feasibility study will be forwarded to the committee on Monday, Sept. 13, with a final report submission issued two weeks later on Monday, Sept. 27. Once the report is finalized, it eventually will be presented to the community for input and feedback.
Following the presentation by Huber and Daly, the committee continued with its regular business, including an extended discussion on the options of vegetation removal on the Conklin Bay boardwalk area.
A review of the Tour des Lakes fundraiser held in July revealed that there were 398 attendees out of 454 registrants. Expenses are still being finalized, as well as data and survey results.
A recap of the inaugural fundraising event, held Thursday, July 29, at Blue Barn Berry Farm and Event Center was given to the committee. Giving Levels commitments totaling $5,700 were pledged during the event. Additionally, a total of $10,580 was raised through the silent and live auctions held that evening. An estimated $18,000 was raised during the event. It was agreed that the second annual event would tentatively be scheduled at the same location on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.
It was noted that the lease on the space currently occupied by Syracuse-Wawasee Trails at 207 N. Huntington St. was not renewed and will expire at the end of September. The office has been located in that building since September 2020. Various options for new office space currently are being considered.
The next public event to benefit the Trails Committee and its efforts will be held Saturday, Oct. 23, with the annual “Tails and Trails” dog walk. The five-mile walk around Syracuse Lake will begin at the Syracuse Community Center.
The next meeting of the Syracuse-Wawasee Trails Committee will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, at a location to be determined.