Marsha Carey, a local grant writer, was hired by the Syracuse-Wawasee Trail Committee during its regular monthly meeting Monday night.
Prior to voting, committee members Erick Leffler and Sam Lehman asked what funds are available. Carey said she would have to research to see what grants the committee has received in the past, but there is a new trail grant available through the community foundation as well as some state and federal grants.
Carey recommended the committee set a number of community grants it wants her to pursue along with state and federal grants. Treasurer Donn Baird asked for what amount of money some of the grants are worth. Carey said between $2,000 and $10,000 to $15,000.
She agreed to do research, come up with specific amounts to pursue and deadline dates. Sandra Buhrt asked about grants connecting the trail to Elkhart County. Carey said she wasn’t aware of any such grants but would look into it. Baird asked about the Safe Routes to School grant.
Committee member Kim Young pointed out in order to raise money the committee would need someone who is not a volunteer who knows what they are doing. Leffler has worked with Carey in the past and highly recommended her. “She has the community in her heart,” he said. Baird and Lehman both said a concentrated effort for a specific period of time is the way to go.
The committee voted unanimously Carey will be paid $20,000 for 12 months work.
Ralph Smith made the public relations report for Kim Mundy. Mundy met with the Tour des Lakes committee to discuss selling T-shirts at the bike ride. A request will be made to the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation to advertise the event on its marquee. Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, gave a brief overview of how the Tour des Lakes came about. Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce is looking for other groups to help with SAG stops and to mark routes for the ride.
Bob Trame of Wawasee Kiwanis Club reported several members were out on the Pickwick Trail cleaning up brush. A box truck was filled to the top with chipped wood and brush. The Kiwanis will look into whether the chipped material can be used as mulch along the trail to keep the weeds down. There is also the possibility of the Kiwanis hosting another cleanup day in September.
Leffler reported the Rotary Club cleared out loose gravel along Cornelius Road. “Just seeing people out cleaning was beneficial,” he said about the reaction the volunteers received from passing motorists. Rotary is also interested in adopting that section of Cornelius to Eli Lillly Road.
Leffler has also been playing phone tag about rental bikes with a representative from Ulta, a company specializing in rental bike stations. Through voice mails Leffler learned the initial outlay would be $150,000 to $200,000 for three bike stations with 20 bikes at each one. The bike stations would be solar powered and people could rent a bike by swiping their credit card.
Buhrt reported on updating the trail committee’s website. She contacted three different companies. One did not get back to her in a timely fashion. Digital Hill recommended a complete revamping of the website for $3,000 to $4,0000 with a $30 monthly fee. Benson Communications, handling the site now, is willing to go on a yearly contract for $70 a month, what the committee currently pays, and do the upgrade for free. Carey asked if people could submit donations through the site; Buhrt said it will be part of the upgrade. Smith asked if the site would have mass email ability. Mike Buhrt said it is supposed to.
A composite bike rack was displayed. It will be placed at the new Kosciusko Community Hospital facility, located in the former Arthur’s store. The committee is looking to have other businesses install bike racks to encourage more bike traffic.
Leffler suggested approaching KCH for a donation. Young recommended going after both KCH and IU Health Goshen, which also has a presence in the community.
Discussion turned to the SR 13 section. Smith presented a Power Point presentation showing Grandview to the driveway of WACF. He noted there is 23 feet of space between the edge of the road and the telephone poles. He explained the committee could easily stay 10 feet off the road, have a 6-foot wide path with 7 feet on the telephone poles. A sidewall could also be installed along with rip wrap to keep things in place.
Leffler asked who would be responsible if the state had to come in and fix SR 13 and ripped up the path in the process.
Smith suggested putting a few stakes in the ground to show the Indiana Department of Transportation where the trail committee wants to put the trail. He suggested it would require 80 truckloads of compactible aggregate.
Mike Buhrt presented information by Phil Beer Jr., an engineer with the firm USI. The state claims it only owns the pavement along SR 13. But the property has to belong to someone. Lehman pointed out there are utility easements that have to be respected. Buhrt suggested an 8-foot lane similar to what is along SR 5 in Shipshewana and US 6 in Nappanee for the Amish buggies.
Discussion turned to hiring USI since it already works with the state and deals with bridge contracts in the county.
Smith asked Baird and Lehman, both serving on WACF, for gut reactions. Lehman said he’d want more details, but doesn’t think the WACF board would have a problem with the trail’s placement.
After more discussion it was decided to see who paid for the “buggy lanes” in Shipshewana and Nappanee before pursing them.
There was also discussion about the Eli Lilly Trail section being narrowed. It’s believed the trail was narrowed after the last striping. One option is for the county to make the two car lanes slightly narrower, which would make the trail wider.
The committee also discussed the bridge on Harkless Road and the need for an estimate on a cantilever walkway. Jonsson told the committee the K21 Foundation has already awarded a grant for a pedestrian bridge.
The next trail committee meeting will be 6 p.m. Monday, June 17, at the Syracuse Community Center.