By RAY BALOGH
Two dozen local residents attended a public meeting Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Syracuse Community Center, to dialogue about the proposed walking trail along county roads 500E and 1200N from Wawasee High School to Brook Pointe Inn.
The hour-long meeting consisted of an informative PowerPoint presentation by Megan McClellan, executive trails director for Syracuse-Wawasee Parks Foundation, and Andy Bearman of Fort Wayne-based Commonwealth Engineers Inc., followed by a robust Q&A session.
“There were more people there than I expected,” said McClellan. “It was a very useful conversation. We learned some things and heard some concerns about safety. It was exactly what I wanted to get from a community meeting. It was great to meet some of the homeowners.”
The latest phase of the Wawasee-Syracuse Trail will take up where the current trail ends near the high school and extend south along the west side of 500E until Woodland Acres Drive, where it will continue on the east side of the road to 1200N and proceed east along that road’s north side until it ends at the east edge of the Brook Pointe Inn property.
The 5 1/2-foot cement trail will be curbed along those sections close to the road. Some sections will be set back from the roadway.
The school corporation will foot $100,000 of the $150,000 cost. The remainder will be funded by grants and donations.
Donations may be made online at www.syracusewawaseetrails.com. Checks made out to “Syracuse-Wawasee Parks Foundation” may be mailed to 1013 N. Long Drive or 801 N. Huntington St., Syracuse, IN, 46567. All donations are tax-deductible and the organization will issue a receipt.
The plan has received preliminary approval from the county highway department. Final approval is expected in early March.
A solicitation for bids will be sent in March and “we should be able to choose a contractor by early April” if no delays are encountered, according to McClellan.
“All work should be finished within six weeks of starting construction,” she said.
Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation, noted the construction would not conflict with activities at the high school during the academic year.
Nevertheless, insured Bearman, nearby construction work would be avoided during the times school buses were entering and leaving the parking lot before and after the school day.
Attendees brought up several topics during the Q&A session, mostly centering on safety for the children.
One resident asked why the entire north-south trail portion could not be situated on the east side of the road to avoid the crosswalk at Woodland Acres Drive. McClellan noted most of the residences were along the west side, leading to the attendant concern trail users would cross the county road at their properties, and confining the crossover to one location enhanced pedestrian and biking safety.
Another resident expressed concern her large red maple tree would be cut down to accommodate the trail. McClellan assured her she had been misinformed. “We want to keep that beautiful tree,” she said.
McClellan agreed to meet both residents at their properties to further discuss the issues.
Other issues raised were lighting, trash, traffic speed, maintenance and drainage and flooding. All the issues were addressed with a promise of further study where needed.
For more information, contact McClellan at (513) 835-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.