Phil Beer II of USI Consultants attended the Syracuse-Wawasee’s Trail Committee’s regular monthly meeting Monday night to discuss plans to create a trail along SR 13. Beer, who grew up in the area, stated that his company does a lot of work within the county.
Beer explained to the committee that there are changes taking place within INDOT so it may be more receptive about a trail along SR 13. INDOT is moving away from state and federal standards and moving toward practical standards. INDOT is uncertain if it possesses ownership of the right of way along SR 13.
Beer explained court cases have determined right of way to be edge of pavement to edge of pavement, however he is not sure INDOT would allow construction of a trail since it isn’t sure it owns the right of way anyway. One suggestion is to ask INDOT to widen the shoulder on the north side of the road.
When asked by Chairman Mike Buhrt what Beer’s suggestion would be in addressing INDOT, Beer stated he would request that INDOT widen the shoulder by 10 feet. Beer said INDOT would want the committee to help with payment. Erick Leffler, board member, suggested being proactive rather than reactive to the increased number of Amish in the area. Another point was the summer population likes to bike and hike along SR 13 which can be dangerous.
The board approved hiring Beer for no more than 20 hours as a consultant at a cost of $3,500. Beer asked for a small group from the committee to join him in upcoming meetings with INDOT. He also noted there were some places where a 10 foot shoulder will not work.
Buhrt asked for an estimated time frame for permission to do the trail. Beer explained INDOT is influx with a loss of a commissioner and an engineer. The construction budget has also been reduced so it will take some time before the committee receives permission to do the trail. Young pointed out that this will give the committee time to raise funds to do construction.
In other business, grant writer Marsha Carey presented a working schedule of grants she will start to pursue. She reported she spoke to Jeremy Skinner, Warsaw city planner about grants. She learned Indiana Department of Transportation grants are either on system roads or enhancement projects.
Carey also requested specific projects be targeted for the grants. Buhrt, suggested completing the trail on Eastshore and Northshore Drives. Board member Kay Young asked if part of the reason trail around Syracuse Lake was not complete was lack of money. Buhrt explained in the beginning home owners were asked to pay for sections in front of their home. Some were against the trail idea and didn’t want to pay for it.
Other agenda items included:
- Chad Jonsson, park superintendant, reviewed what help was needed with the upcoming Tour des Lakes. Volunteers are needed from different organizations to help mark trails and during registration. The idea is for the Tour des Lakes to eventually become a project similar to the WPOA house tour. Eastshore and Northshore Drives, along with Pickwick will be used for all the rides during the Tour des Lakes. A lot of the routes will be along areas the committee would like to put trail down in the future.
- After a discussion pertaining to possibly restriping the crosswalk at Pickwick and Cornelius and removing separators, the committee stated it intends to look into the cost of the project.
- The owners of the Channel Marker have asked if there is a way to slow bikers down as they come off the bridge. There have been a few near misses with cars pulling out of the parking lot. Jonsson thought signs had been installed at one time. The board decided to install four signs in the area warning riders of the upcoming parking lot.
- There was also discussion about placing signs on the Pickwick Bridge about a blind driveway. Erick Leffler, board member, asked about a drainage issues on Eli Lily where it Warner Drive curves into it. The committee will have to talk to the county about it.
- The website is coming along with several new sponsors signing on. A local business is willing to make bike racks if the committee provides a template. Local businesses that purchase a bike rack will receive a year of free advertising on the trail website. Anyone interested should call Kay Young or Sandra Buhrt.
- Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent of Wawasee Community Schools, reported decorative lights will be installed along the trail in front of Wawasee High School.
- Bob Trame reported the Syracuse Lake Association Board is looking for someone to represent Syracuse Lake Association on the trail committee.
(For a more in-depth account of the park foundation meeting, see yesterday’s issue of The Mail-Journal)