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An update on Indian Creek Trail Inc.

It’s due time for Indian Creek Trail Inc. to update the community on the status of our walking trail in Corydon.
First, a little background on Indiana’s walking trails. Trail development in Indiana communities has long been a strong focus of proponents of quality of life in regional and community development. In many communities, trails stimuluate recreation, physical activity and alternative transportation and, most importantly, boost the residents’ image of the place they call home.
Indian Creek Trail Inc. has been working to design and build a comprehensive trail system in Corydon since Purdue University architecture students designed ways to improve access to Big and Little Indian creeks in 1996.
Meeting the third Monday night of the month at Gerdon Auto Sales, Indian Creek Trail’s core volunteer group, led by president Bill Gerdon, has faced an uphill battle since Day One. The first challenge was having a volunteer group focus on building the trail, rather than county or town government. That’s the way it’s been done in most other communities.
This group has stumbled at times and been guilty of not thinking big enough. However, we have overcome by asking advice from other communities. Now we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In January, we submitted an application for $1,050,000 in Federal TEA-21 dollars to build the final 17,000 feet of trail to connect with the two sections already mostly completed.
For those not familiar with the TEA-21 grant program, the Indiana Dept. of Transportation provides this explanation. ‘Transportation enhancements (TE) are transportation-related activities that are designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic and environmental aspects of the nation’s intermodal transportation system. The transportation enhancements program provides for the implementation of a variety of non-traditional projects, with examples ranging from the restoration of historic transportation facilities, to bike and pedestrian facilities, to landscaping and scenic beautification, and to the mitigation of water pollution from highway runoff.’
Our application for $1 million requires a 20-percent match of Harrison County funds. In other words, for our local $210,000 match, we can secure $840,000 of federal money. Not a bad way to build a trail by any means. Our $210,000 local match will come from a 50/50 split between Harrison County riverboat funds and from Innkeepers and Admissions Tax directed to the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Our application went to Gov. Joe Kernan’s desk for approval. If we don’t get accepted this year, we will try again in December when the 2005 applications are due. However, we think we’ve submitted a highly competitive application.
Our trail is extremely comprehensive. It will link our new YMCA and Gov. Frank O’Bannon Park to downtown Corydon to Hayswood Nature Reserve to the Harrison County Fairgrounds to Rice Island Playground. Additionally, the trail will provide for a new sidewalk along Harrison Drive to make it safer for students at the Corydon school complex to walk to the trail.
The final Indian Creek Trail will include other features like a pedestrian bridge over Indian Creek near the intersection of Big and Little Indian creeks, benches, bike racks, a new trailhead and parking area near Cedar Court assisted living center on seven acres donated by Mike Sphire. Attractive signage will help folks find their way and learn about the beauty of Indian Creek. This trail, when completed, will be one of the finest walking trails in the Midwest!
Indiana University completed a study in 2001 in association with the Indiana Dept. of Transportation, the National Park Service and the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources. The study’s results should deter critics of trails who believe that they promote criminal activity, devalue neighboring properties values and are unneeded. The study looked at six trails in Greenfield, Fort Wayne, Muncie, Indianapolis, Portage and Goshen.
One of the first major findings indicated that trail users include all ethnic, age, economic and educational levels. On average, trail users are on the trail between 100 and 200 minutes total over three to four days a week. Trail users feel their trails are safe. On average, 79 percent of trail users said they participated more in their preferred activity (walking, running, bike riding) because of the trail being built.
A vast majority of property owners found either no effect or a positive effect on property value and ease of selling homes near the trail. By and large, all six trails were felt to be a better neighbor than expected and overall it improved the quality of life of the neighborhood.
Most importantly, the study found that users reported a more favorable view of their city due to the trail. Given the economic challenges for Harrison County, we could certainly use all the ‘feel good’ and ‘quality of life’ tools we can get. Recent studies have shown that businesses choose to locate in places where quality of life is high and recreation opportunities abound. The Indian Creek Trail will be a piece of the puzzle to help attract new and prosperous businesses to Harrison County.
Regarding future liability and maintenance, Indian Creek Trail is not planning to ask the county for anything. Upon completion, the trail will revert to the control of the Harrison County Parks and Recreation Dept., and Indian Creek Trail will become its advisory board. A $40,000 endowment has been set up with the Harrison County Community Foundation that will pay the liability insurance for the trail as well as give us money each year for maintenance.
We ask your continued support in helping us complete this great project for Harrison County. Just wait! When completed, we’ll see first-hand how great a development this is for all of us.
The Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau is a proud supporter of the Indian Creek Trail because we feel it’s a perfect project that will benefit both the residents and tourists that visit Harrison County.
If you would like more information on the trail, please contact me at the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 734-0581.
Sean Hawkins is community development manager for the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau and a member of the Indian Creek Trail Inc. board of directors.