Looking for trailblazers June 28Published 6:28pm Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Niles Charter Township June 28 at 7 p.m. hosts the first “Friends of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail” meeting at 320 Bell Rd.
Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail is a dedicated pedestrian highway.
Partners are working to create a 34-mile trail connecting Niles to Mishawaka, Ind.
Preliminary estimated cost to construct four miles in Indiana and four miles in Michigan is $3 million, for which $320,000 needs to be raised.
A presentation detailing the history and scope of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail will be given and refreshments served.
Contact township Park Commissioner Harry Thibault at (574) 292-1175 for more information.
Thibault said Tuesday $141,000 is needed for the first phase from the state line to Brandywine Creek, with foundation funding also being sought so construction could start next summer.
“Since the trail went up in the city, everyone sees the potential,” Thibault said.
Starting with a core group of eight to 10 people in 2008, “things started clicking” when the tri-county Southwest Michigan Planning Commission began facilitating monthly meetings, he said.
Send tax-deductible donations to Niles Charter Township, attention: Trails donation, 320 Bell Rd., Niles, MI 49120.
Local donations leverage state and federal dollars.
Michigan studies show out-of-town trail users spend $949 to $1,269 on lodging, restaurants, groceries, gas and equipment per trip.
Average annual use of six Michigan trails was 92,000.
In 2000, a bike event in Bloomington, Ind., drew 5,000 riders who contributed more than $1 million to the local economy in lodging and food expenditures.
The 2005 Indiana Bike Fest in Jasper attracted 250, infusing $120,000 into that local economy.
Trails can also boost property values. Realtors indicate homes along Paint Creek Trail in Michigan sell for 10 percent more than comparable homes off the trail.
A 1999 study of home sales in Indianapolis found homes along greenways sold for as much as 10 percent more.