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Creek trail group seeks $1 million to finish network

Acting on the advice of a state official, the Indian Creek Trail planning group has decided to seek more than $1 million in federal and local funds to complete its ambitious trailway project along Big and Little Indian creeks in Corydon, a proposal that now extends to the South Harrison Community School Corp. campus in south Corydon.
The directors made their decision ‘to go for the max’ at a special Monday night meeting. The next step for the directors is to ask the Harrison County Commissioners at their Monday morning meeting to go beyond their original pledge of $121,000 this year to closer to $200,000 to be the local 20-percent match for a request expected to exceed $1,070,000.
Indian Creek Trail Inc., headed by Bill Gerdon, decided to go for completion of a comprehensive three-mile trail network after meeting in November with Steve Morris, section coordinator of the Division of Outdoor Recreation, Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources. Morris told the directors how the state rates applications for federal Transportation Enhancement money. His message was that ambitious applications that have plenty of local support and meet various criteria tend to do better in the rating process.
This past year, Indian Creek had asked for $660,000 to finance planning and construction of about 1-1/2 miles of trail to finish the third phase of the project. Morris said the application was turned down because it was weak in several categories.
Just this week Gov. Joe Kernan and Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis announced federal Transportation Enhancement grants totaling $20 million to local community projects around the state. The grants can’t be used for actual highway projects, such as resurfacing and new road construction. The grant money is given in three general categories: historic, commerce and bicycle-pedestrian.
After Gerdon and others met with Morris, they asked Jason Copperwaite, project engineer with Paul Primavera and Associates of Corydon, to draw plans for the entire project. It would extend from the massive Harrison County YMCA facility and Friends of Harrison County Youth soccer fields now under construction in north Corydon southwest along Indian Creek to the cul-de-sac parking lot at the southern end of Hayswood Nature Reserve. The trail would also connect the Harrison County Fairgrounds area west toward the Tyson Foods’ chicken processing plant and also south on sidewalks to the South Harrison schools.
With concrete trails, Copperwaite’s project estimate came to $1,075,187. Using asphalt trails (which may not survive flooding as well), the project estimate is $830,470. However, both estimates would be $65,000 less because Indian Creek Trail chose to eliminate one proposed parking lot. The trails would have other parking lots, two 70-foot steel bridges, benches, signs and other amenities.
The benches and signs could add another $75,000 to the total cost.
Sean Hawkins, community development manager for the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the CVB board has volunteered to pay Copperwaite’s cost estimates up to $1,500.
The deadline to apply for the TE grant is Jan. 31. Hawkins said he and Don Lopp, of the River Hills Regional Planning Commission, have nearly completed the new application.
Going for the maximum is a big step for the trail committee. After seven years of work, only one 900-foot section is complete. ‘Logan’s Trail’ runs from the Grand Trails RV park to Rice Island Playground. Another 3,000-foot section, to be named after the late William Doolittle, whose two sons own the ground the trail runs through, is being poured, alongside Indian Creek and opposite the Keller Manufacturing Co. plant.
The third phase was to be the Frank O’Bannon Memorial Trail, running from the west bridge all the way to the south boundary of Hayswood Nature Reserve (off S.R. 135 west of town), where the late governor used to watch birds. That long section, which will include two bridges, will now be part of the comprehensive plan.
Estimated annual maintenance costs are $10,000 for the concrete trail and $20,000 for asphalt walkways. Indian Creek Trail board member Carl Snyder believes an ‘adopt-a-highway’-type program can be started, and that various groups and volunteers, even county prisoners, can help with maintenance.
The 70-foot bridges, both costing $88,000, would be large enough to allow an ambulance to pass. One is envisioned at the south end of Slemmons Avenue. It would connect the west and east sides of Indian Creek, not far from the fairgrounds and south of the Corydon sewage treatment plant and the confluence of Big and Little Indian creeks.
The other bridge would connect the trail along the south side of Indian Creek to the Hayswood Nature Reserve area. That trail would then run west along the river toward the cul-de-sac parking lot near the pond at the nature reserve.
The comprehensive plan would include construction of 55 feet of concrete sidewalk on Ridley Street and another 944-foot section on South Harrison Drive. Those two sections would allow people to walk all the way from Indian Creek at the Indian Creek General Store to the South Harrison schools while crossing only two streets, said Snyder.
The trail group also envisions a parking lot and trail head on the Doolittle property near the west bridge on S.R. 62.
Regarding the $20 million in grants announced in Indianapolis this week, Gov. Kernan said, ‘This $20 million investment will go a long way toward further improving the quality of life in Indiana, as well as help spur community and economic development. These dollars are used for everything from bike trails and downtown improvements to historic district revitalization, all of which strengthen our communities and attract growth.’
Lt. Gov. Davis added, ‘Often, these grant dollars serve as a foundation for more broad community development within our cities and towns. They allow communities to take first steps toward their goals and in many cases help attract additional investment and interest to a project.’