Trail project kicks off at Old Town lake

Leann Burke/The Herald
From left , Scott Tretter with Seufert Construction, Brett Schipp with Universal Design, Park Board member Mike Steffe, Park Board President Matt Weyer, Brandon Betz with Seufert Construction, Town Council President Ken Sicard, Councilman Ron Weyer, Park Board member Dolores Boeglin and Bethany Hopf with Universal Design.


FERDINAND — Phil and Susie Luebbehusen live up the hill from the Old Town Lake in Ferdinand, and the couple can’t wait for the town to finish the trail project at the site.

The couple attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the project Monday afternoon to show their support and excitement.

“[We’re excited] to use it,” Susie said. “We’re so close.”

The trail project is an improvement almost 30 years in the making.

The Old Town Lake has been on the town’s radar since the 1990s, and Park Board member Dolores Boeglin knows it’s been part of the park board’s five-year plan at least since she joined in 2001.

Despite the lake being on town officials’ minds, it wasn’t until 2016 that the town applied for and won a matching grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation Fund. The grant awarded the town $200,000 for the project, with the town kicking in the rest of the $440,000 to complete the trail — $435,000 to construct the trail and about $5,000 in preparation work required by the DNR as part of the grant requirements.

Once the town won the grant, the park board worked with Universal Design Associates of Ferdinand to plan the project before the park board and town council awarded the construction contract to Seufert Construction of Ferdinand at their March meetings.

Construction on the trail is scheduled to begin next week and wrap up in December. A few parts of the trail will be paved, but the bulk of the 1 mile trail will be made of gravel repurposed from the town’s 23rd Street project.

“It’ll be another place for the people to get out and walk and enjoy themselves,” Town Council President Ken Sicard said at the groundbreaking.

The trail is the first phase of the park board’s plans to improve the area. The board hoped to be able to build a fishing pier and bathrooms and repurpose a pump house on the site into a shelter house, but the trail portion ended up costing more than anticipated. The additional improvements will come in later phases that the board plans to fund primarily through donations. Once the trail project gets more underway, the board will amp up its fundraising efforts.

“There’s some more fundraising we need to do to make it a full reality,” Park Board President Matt Weyer said. “We’re well on our way with that, too.”

Anyone interested in donating can contact a member of the park board or town hall, 812-367-2280.

The Old Town Lake once served as a water source for the town, and several attendees of the groundbreaking recalled days when the pumpmaster had to go to the pump house in the morning to turn on the pumps and get water to the town.

“This was the lifeblood of the town,” Sicard said of the lake.

It’s been years since Ferdinand businesses and residents got their water from the Old Town Lake. Today, the town’s water comes from Patoka Lake about 25 miles northeast of the town, and the Old Town Lake has been a recreation spot for fishermen and kayakers.

With the improvements, town officials hope to make the area usable for more of the town’s residents, and make it the third major park in the town’s parks system.

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