The Fillmore section would be part of a 150-mile, cross-state, multipurpose trail running from Richmond to Terre Haute that includes the People Pathways in Putnam County.
Joy Marley of People Pathways and Greg Midgely from the National Road Heritage Trail (NRHT) spoke at the December town council meeting. They were back Thursday night to answer questions and campaign for the trail.
One audience member asked who would pay for the project. Marley explained the pathway is a volunteer effort created with partnerships that include grants and private donations.
"The three-mile trail between Greencastle and Fillmore was done this way," she said, adding that she has been talking to Area 30 about creating a partnership with the school. "They have the kind of equipment needed for the path. Things like a front load tractor to clear the path. They also have construction classes who could help us create the pathway and clean up the areas."
Resident Steve Bunten discussed concerns with personal safety, the lack of motorized vehicles such as All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and skimobiles being allowed on the trail as well as damages to private property by horses or ATV drivers.
"There have been three instances of assaults recently," he told the group. "A man was beaten near the Hendricks county line, a woman was raped in Bloomington and in Indianapolis surveillance cameras have been moved from some crime ridden areas to the Monon Trail (located in Indianapolis)."
This led to others voicing concerns about burglars escaping on ATVs by using such trails. There was also concern expressed about horses causing damage on private property.
Midgley said most trails like the one being created helped improve safety issues. He referred to a new section of the National Road Heritage Trail recently created between Amo and Coatesville.
"People are using it legally. The barriers on it have helped to stop people from using it illegally," he said.
Town Marshal Tom Helmer told the group he knew of no problems occurring on the Greencastle to Fillmore path.
The trails for NRHT are built along or near the former Pennsylvania, Vandalia and electric interurban railway corridors from Terre Haute to Indianapolis to Richmond. These trails are used in many Putnam County areas by ATV and snowmobile riders.
Marley and Midgely explained at the December meeting 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.
They 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.
There were a number of supporters of the proposed trail as well as the People Pathways trails at that meeting including Dr. Robert Heavin, a local physician and director of the Putnam County Board of Health.
He spoke briefly about a lack of exercise and obesity and how the trails are an opportunity to improve health.
"It will help enhance Indiana as a recreational tourism destination and bring the economic benefits that accompany an extended bicycle and equestrian trails network," Midgley said. "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."
Marley wants to continue the Greencastle-Fillmore path to Coatesville as part of the larger Indiana-wide 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.
Since the majority of the trail is built along private property the town only has a say about the area that actually runs through the town.
Town Board President Jeff Osborn reigned in the conversation by asking for a motion to table the request until the February meeting.
"We want to give people plenty of time to hear about this project and get their input," said Osborn.
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.