Old Town Lake trail project moving forward


FERDINAND — After months of behind-the-scenes work, Ferdinand’s Old Town Lake trail project is taking a step forward.

On Friday, the Town Council opened bids for the project, which will construct a 1-mile trail and make other improvements around the lake located on East 14th Street near Monastery Immaculate Conception. Two companies submitted bids, Seufert Construction of Ferdinand and Jasper Lumber of Jasper.

“We’re proud there were local bidders,” said Park Board President Matt Weyer.

The Old Town Lake has been on the town’s radar since the 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the town took significant action to update the area. In 2016, the parks department applied for a grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation Fund. The project was awarded a $200,000 matching grant, which means the town must also come up with $200,000 for the project.

Part of the match will come from repurposed asphalt from the recent 23rd Street project that will be ground into gravel for the trail, with another part coming from donations. The park board already has some donation commitments, but plans to amp up fundraising efforts now that the bids are in.

“Now that we have pricing, we’re going to push a little harder on the donations,” Weyer said.

After winning the grant, the town partnered with Universal Design of Ferdinand to complete design work and other services needed to get the project started. Weyer and Brett Schipp of Universal Design presented designs for the project in August 2018. Those designs include the 1-mile trail; repurposing the pump house into a shelter house; parking improvements that will include parking for boat trailers; walking bridges across wetland areas and one finger of the lake; and a picnic area. The park board would also like to add a fishing pier and a kayak launch.

Other services Universal Design provided included months of working with the DNR to get the proper permits for the project, which involves work with a dam and spillway. The project obtained the last permits in January. Days after, the project went to bid. With the bids now in hand, work is almost ready to begin on the project.

The council will select a bid at its March meeting, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, at town hall, 2065 Main St.

“We’re optimistic that we can get the base project at least going [this spring],” Weyer said.

The sooner the better since the grant requires the project be competed by September 2020.

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