Albin Pond pathway takes yet another detour for city

Friday, November 3, 2006
Several members of the timber industry and woodland owners met at Cook' s Lumber at Reelsville for a tour of the mill. Sycamore Trails Resource Conservation and Development Council Inc. sponsored the third annual tour to talk with both the timber industry and woodland owners about conservation and economic development. The group also saw a logging demonstration on County Road 500 West. Photo by Amanda Callahan.

More than seven years after the Indiana Department of Transportation approved a grant for a fitness trail to be constructed on Greencastle's north side, nary a shovel-load of dirt has been moved for the project.

The issue stirred discussion among members of the Greencastle Park Board this week as they talked about the current status of the Albin Pond phase of People Pathways.

Board members said they are concerned that if the project continues to be delayed, construction costs will continue to rise, making it more difficult to convince city leaders to support the plan.

A condition of the INDOT grant requires the City Council to appropriate matching money for the trail project. Board members said they feared what future city councils would decide about the project if costs continue to rise.

This week, Greencastle Parks and Recreation Department Director Rod Weinschenk told park board members that the project had been delayed yet again.

He said the purchase of right of way for the trail has been put on hold while appraisals for the land are reviewed and several title searches for properties that have changed hands in the last year are completed.

He said he hopes the process will be completed in time for the city to begin purchasing property by the end of the year. If that doesn't occur, however, board members believe it could be detrimental to the future of the project.

Adding to the concerns of board members, Weinschenk said that a piece of property along the proposed route between Deer Meadow Elementary and Greencastle High School appears to be contaminated.

Weinschenk said the property, which he declined to identify by name, appears to be giving off an orange-colored substance in the groundwater during rain events. He said he has spoken with the city engineer and that an environmental study will have to be performed at the site, including a possible clean-up.

"We're not going to purchase a contaminated piece of property," Weinschenk said.

Park Board Vice President Leslie Hanson said she wanted some assurances that the investigation would not hold up the remaining project.

Weinschenk said he hoped that it would not.

In other business, the park board:

* Learned that Weinschenk does not think it will be feasible to renovate the former produce stand recently purchased by the parks department on the southwest corner of Robe-Ann Park, known as the Clearwaters property.

* Learned that the city will have to wait a little longer to hear whether a Safe Routes to School Grant will help pay for the portion of People Pathways proposed for construction between Deer Meadow Elementary and Greencastle High School.

* Learned that a local group is seeking to erect a veteran memorial at the current Calbert Way Park, located across the street from Wal-Mart on Indianapolis Road. Weinschenk told the board he will recommend the memorial be located at the corner of Veterans Memorial Highway and Cemetery Road instead.

* Learned that the parks department is seeking volunteers to help take phone calls to Santa Clause in December.

The Greencastle Park Board meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at city hall.

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