Plan would connect Niles trail to South BendPublished 5:00am Saturday, March 20, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
An effort to complete a 34-mile walking trail connecting Niles with South Bend, Mishawaka and Roseland is gaining steam.
With Niles expanding its walking trail at Riverfront Park by one mile this spring, the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail is getting close to completion.
The trail still needs to be extended about five miles in Michigan, according to Marcy Colclough of the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. Four miles in Indiana need to be added as well. Filling the gaps is estimated to cost around $5 million.
One completed, the trail will connect four downtowns, four universities, 16 parks and five hospitals or medical facilities.
Colclough said about a year and a half ago, the Southwest Planning Commission organized a meeting between the City of Niles, Niles Township, Mishawaka, South Bend and several other organizations to plan linking the trails of the communities.
A task force was formed and has been meeting for a year to make the mega-trail a reality.
The task force has met with several different municipalities and organizations to get support.
It is coming to give a presentation to the Niles City Council during its meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at the Niles Fire Station.
Juan Ganum, Niles’ community development director, sees the River Valley Trail being a great benefit to the city.
“It would allow people to travel all the way to Mishawaka to Niles and back,” he said. “There are recreational, health and economic development benefits. It will attract tourist and visitors to the city of Niles.”
Colclough said there are still some road blocks in completing the project.
“There are some challenges in some of the areas where there are some gaps, like crossing of rivers, streams and roads. So there are some big ticket items (to fund),” she said.
For more information on the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail, visit http://swmpc.org/inmitrail.asp or attend the city council meeting Monday night.