By Liz Shepherd
ETNA GREEN — Engineers with USI Consultants Inc. presented a walking trail feasibility study to the Etna Green Town Council on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
Currently, the proposal is for a walking trail to be established from West Broadway Street down SR 19, then along West High Street into the area of Heritage Park.
The proposed trail is currently not a full loop around Heritage Park. Council Member Jason Hanes said part of the park would need to be closed off from vehicles in order for a loop to be established.
Beth Johnson, business development representative; and Wyatt Huber, roadway design engineer for the project, presented the study to the council. The proposed trail is a 10-foot wide, multi-use path about a half mile long. Johnson also said the trail’s plan can be changed into a loop during the official design process.
“The study looked at the potential costs for engineering, design, construction, right-of-way, utilities and environmental,” said Johnson. “The total estimated cost, with a 15% contingency for construction, came out to $415,200.”
Etna Green has a $200,000 pledge from the K21 Health Foundation to use for health and wellness opportunities in the community. The idea of creating a walking trail for the town’s citizens has been frequently mentioned in the council’s discussions on how to use the pledge.
Aside from the K21 grant, Johnson said there are several grant options for the town to consider for project funding, including Next Level Trails and the Indiana Trails Grant. The council is leaning toward funding through the Indiana Trails Grant, which would be an 80/20 matching grant. Council would use the K21 grant to fund the town’s 20% portion.
Council members approved USI Consultants conferring with the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) on which method of funding they should use for the project.
Residential TIF Discussion
Greg Fitzloff, business development partner with the Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO), attended the council meeting to provide further updates on potentially establishing a residential Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district in town.
Fitzloff attended the council’s October meeting to detail how TIF districts work and what the process would look like if the town established one.
A TIF district would help boost residential development by allowing Etna Green to capture new property tax revenue, using it to provide infrastructure for residential development.
Fitzloff said KEDCO has found 19 acres of land that is developable. He estimated single-family residences in the available land would cost between $250,000 to $300,000; Fitzloff said a full-time employee in the manufacturing industry would be able to afford a mortgage payment for the residences that would be built.
Jamie Visker, owner and CEO of Winona Powder Coating, attended the council’s meeting to express support for new homes being developed in the area.
“We are in a crazy, competitive labor market,” said Visker. “What makes the difference is housing and transportation. Housing in this community is a must for us to continue growing employment. Our average hourly worker can afford these homes. The lack of affordable housing here is an impediment to me growing employment here in this community.”
Council Member Susan Klinefelter said she wants more community input on establishing a TIF district.
The council voted to have Town Attorney Jay Rigdon prepare a resolution for the December council meeting as a first step toward further discussions on the TIF district; the resolution would be for identifying if the council would want to create their own redevelopment commission or rely on the county’s for the TIF’s potential establishment.
US 30 Coalition Meeting
Hanes said petitions have been circulating against the possible establishment of J-turns on US 30.
J-turns are alternatives to traditional roadway intersections on a four-lane highway. With J-turn intersections, motorists would turn right in the same direction of traffic, merge into the left lane and then make a u-turn in the direction they want to travel.
“We’ve had a meeting with the Area Planning Commission,” said Hanes. “It was a preliminary meeting to see how we felt about the US 30 project. I explained to them that J-turns do not work for our community, for the Amish, for farmers. They won’t be able to cross the highway. There’s no way.”
Hanes encouraged the public to attend a Nov. 16 meeting at the Warsaw Community High School Performing Arts Center to give their input.
“The community needs to make themselves known as to what they want,” said Hanes.
Community Thanksgiving Dinner
George’s Highlander will host a community Thanksgiving dinner for the entire town from 11 a.m. until supplies run out on Thursday, Nov. 25. The meal includes turkey, ham, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, macaroni and cheese, salads, cranberry sauce, rolls and a dessert. Coffee or a soft drink is also included.
The meal is donation-only. Carry-out and dine-in options will be available. All proceeds from the dinner will benefit The Time is Now, a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to end human trafficking. Contact George’s Highlander for more information.
The council’s next meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14.