County, cities to use grant to study trail connectivity


The county, Jasper and Huntingburg will look at the possibility of connecting communities through a countywide trail system.

A $20,000 grant from the Indiana State Department of Health will help them hire a consultant to study the if and how that can be done.

“It’s kind of a feasibility study,” County Commissioner Elmer Brames said, “not necessarily determining the routes, but to just kind of look at it and see what and how it could be developed.”

Work on the project is in the very beginning stages, as the grant was awarded last week.

The communities are looking at the feasibility of connecting different areas throughout the county via trails.

“That’s kind of the idea,” Brames said, “to connect the various schools and parks and trails that already exist in Jasper and Ferdinand and Huntingburg and so forth.”

“The very next step is just going to be sitting down with the representative from the State Department of Health and going through the requirements and their processes, and signing the agreement,” said Jasper City Attorney Renee Kabrick, who received the notification from the state.

After that, a request for quotes will be developed to find a planning team that will do the study. “Because there are grant dollars involved, there are very specific requirements for how we hire that team,” Kabrick said.

The grant will be matched with a $20,000 commitment from the three entities. How much each will contribute has not been officially determined, Kabrick said.

“It hasn’t been decided with certainty what that division will be. We haven’t sat down and had that discussion together,” she said.

The feasibility study could help the area get other state and federal grants for trail projects.

“There always seems to be grants that come down the line to help with those type of things,” Brames said. “If in the future some grants come along and you want to take advantage of that, very likely some type of study like this is going to have to be in place to enable you to take advantage of grants.”

For instance, the Indiana’s Next Level Trails grant started in 2018, and the Dubois County Park Board looked into possibly applying for one to make some renovations in the park, which included trail work. But, the board found out from a representative of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources that the state was looking for trail projects that would connect communities in a county. The board suggested to the county in January 2019 that it consider such a project, if communities were interested.

Although there is interest locally, creating such a countywide trail system is not a definite.

“This is to take a look and see what it would look like, if in the future we decide to do something,” Brames said.

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