GREENCASTLE -- It's been a decade-long process to get here, but work is finally underway on the Albin Pond Trail-Safe Route to School pathway.
The portion of the People Pathways project has been in the works for about 10 years, but the process of getting easements to use the land and acquiring the land have taken considerable time.
The project, once completed, will provide a walking path from Albin Pond Road and Toddson Drive to Shadowlawn Drive and Deer Meadow School. With the pathway, children living in the Albin Pond Road area will have a safe walking path to school at Deer Meadow and on over to the high school and middle school.
"Quite honestly, once the easements were gotten and bits of property were purchased, I think people really felt it was going to happen. It's exciting," Greencastle mayor Sue Murray.
Work on the trail commenced on March 15 with the felling of trees. The trees are the main area of concern right now because of the protected brown bats. Due to the bats' migration patterns, trees can no longer be felled after April 1. At this point, getting the trees cleared before the end of March is the main concern.
"They have until the end of October to finish this project. I think that's why we're all a bit surprised it was moving ahead so quickly," Murray said. "But, again, that's because of the brown bat, and if the trees aren't felled by April 1, then you have to wait until Sept. 30."
The company doing the work on the pathway is CLR, Inc. The company was contracted by the Indiana Department of Transportation, not the city, to do the work. The city, however, has the responsibility of overseeing the project.
"The city did sign that contract, so it's an interesting first time through for most of us here in that there's somebody else who's responsible for the construction completely. Our avenue, then, is supervision."
Given the April 1 tree deadline and the Oct. 31 overall deadline, Murray said the city expects work to stop for a while once April 1 comes. On the other hand, the process still has a nice jump on the October deadline.
"Most certainly, the expectation is that it will be finished before the end of October," the mayor said.
Once the trees are down, there are still a number of steps to completing the trail, including drainage work, fill-in work, the laying of asphalt and plantings to restore the area.
"There are a few steps along the way. You wouldn't think a meandering pathway would necessarily take that long to build, but I think it's exactly because it's a meandering pathway," Murray said.
Murray wants residents to know the work could be inconveniences to residents or drivers in the affected areas. She asks for patience as this final step is completed.
"We just really want people to know there are going to be some inconveniences at times as they move down Albin Pond Road, but hopefully it's something we're all going to work together cooperatively on and see a finished pathway, sooner rather than later," Murray said.
"I know for many people it's going to seem like it takes forever, but in relative terms, since this is been going on for 10 years, it's really not forever," she added.
Additionally, the final outcome will be much better for residents of the Albin Pond Road area, giving them a safe place to walk, run or bicycle.
"I have gone down Albin Pond on foot, and it's kind of scary. There's room for two cars, but get yourself on bicycle or on foot, and it is a little treacherous along there," Murray said. "It's going to be a wonderful improvement."