River Valley trail project fundraising to begin soonPublished 4:49pm Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Niles Charter Township officials are about to initiate a public fundraising project with the goal of raising $100,000 for the township’s portion of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail.
Harry Thibault, township park commission chairman, said he’s already received local foundation and private commitments totaling around $41,000. Thibault, and the park commission, hope to raise another $100,000 to cover the $141,000 committed by the township toward the project.
When finished, the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail will connect Niles to Mishawaka with 34 miles of multi-use trail. The township’s portion covers 3.5 miles from the state line to the City of Niles.
On Monday, the township board announced that its $286,000 grant application had been recommended for approval and is awaiting legislative approval and appropriation of funds.
Also, the township learned in September that another grant application for $415,009.86 received a “conditional commitment,” but the township is still awaiting an official announcement on that grant.
Thibault said neither of the grants is guaranteed.
Both grants, if officially approved, would go toward the first phase, or South Trail, portion of the project, which includes constructing trail from the Indiana/Michigan state line north to Brandywine Creek Nature Park north of U.S. 12. The estimated cost of the South Trail phase is $842,000.
If everything goes well, Thibault said design engineering could be completed as early as this summer and construction could start as early as next year.
“The Niles Charter Township Park Commission and our cooperating, regional trail planners see this project not only as a recreational trail, but as a means of economic development, alternative transportation, health promotion, pollution mitigation and esthetic growth,” Thibault said.
Thibault is encouraging local residents and businesses who are interested in making a donation to send them to: IN-MI River Valley Trail Fund, Niles Charter Township, 320 Bell Road, Niles, MI 49120. Also, readers are encouraged to log onto Facebook.com/FriendsoftheIMRVTrail and “like” the page so they can follow the trail’s progress.