FILLMORE -- Members of the Fillmore Town Council heard from Joy Marley with People Pathways and Greg Midgely from the National Road Heritage Trail at the town meeting last week.
Midgely offered the town an opportunity to be part of the 150-mile cross state multi-purpose trail running from Richmond to Terre Haute.
This proposed trail is a continuous system of multi-use trails built along or near the former Pennsylvania, Vandalia and electric interurban railway corridors from Terre Haute to Indianapolis to Richmond. It will closely follow the Historic National Road and U.S. 40 for much of its route.
Across Indiana, the trail would wind from Terre Haute to Brazil to Greencastle, Fillmore to Coatesville-Amo, Plainfield to the Pleasant Run Trail in Indianapolis to Cumberland and Greenfield, Henry County and Richmond.
It will connect a number of local trails like People Pathways and form a scenic alternative route for pedestrians, bicyclists and horseback riders separated from motorized vehicles.
Marley, who has been the power force behind People Pathways in Putnam County, told council members about the three-mile Greencastle-Fillmore trail built in 1999. Marley proposed adding to this trail by going through Fillmore and joining up with the new Coatesville-Amo trail.
Midgely explained that beyond being a way to connect people to nature, towns, schools, libraries and parks, the trails build and revive livable communities while enhancing tourism and improving business in the areas.
He used Fillmore's restaurant Bert and Betty's as an example of increasing business citing examples of people riding or hiking to the restaurant to eat and drink.
"In fact, after eating Jackie's (Miller from Bert and Betty's) famous brownies you will need the trail," he joked.
There were a number of supporters of the proposed trail as well as the People Pathways trails.
Dr. Robert Heavin, a local physician and director of the Putnam County Board of Health spoke in favor of the trail.
"I encourage you all to use these trails and get rid of some of that winter fat. At the end of winter you'll come out looking like the bears in spring," he smilingly told the audience. On a serious note, he spoke briefly about a lack of exercise and obesity and how the trails are an opportunity to improve health.
"The benefits to the trail," says Midgely, "is the ability to bicycle on an unbroken string of paths through communities and rural areas that are formed by a historic transportation corridor."
"It will help enhance Indiana as a recreational tourism destination and bring the economic benefits that accompany an extended bicycle and equestrian trails network. It creates a framework for a broader statewide trails network, and enhances the sense of community with the intimate pace of trail travel. And, it helps attract and retain an energetic workforce in the state," he said.
Marley wants to continue the Greencastle/Fillmore path to Coatesville as part of the larger Indiana-wide trail. She asked members of the town to consider supporting the newest leg of the Putnam County trail.
Permission to use the right of ways along the railroad trail has already been obtained from Art Evans who owns it. The town of Fillmore controls the ground in between the right of ways so the continuation of the trail will need the town's approval to move forward.
"There is no expense for the town," added Midgely and Marley.
"We wanted to give people plenty of time to hear about this project and get their input," commented Jeff Osborn, Fillmore Town Council President. "We'll have public comments at the January meeting before we agree to it."
Response to the trail by Fillmore residents was positive with several people commenting on the advantages of having the trail and adding to it.
The Fillmore Town Council regularly meets on the first Thursday of the month at Town Hall. For information about the NRHT call Midgely at 317-503-1101. Information about People Pathways is available through the Putnam County Foundation, the Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Center.