By Emily Rachelle Russell | Echo
The town of Upland has received a $200,000 federal grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for the construction of a mile-long walking trail.
The path of the trail will start at the bridge by the Upland depot, head east along the railroad tracks for a half mile, then head south about a half mile, according to Ron Sutherland, Taylor's special assistant to the president. Construction should begin in April or May and hopefully be completed by this fall. The construction plan is to pave a portion of the designated parking area for people with disabilities. The rest of the parking area and the walking trail may be crushed stone, but the town is raising money to pave as much of the trail as possible.
According to a press release by Taylor's Director of Media Relations Jim Garringer, Taylor University, the town of Upland and the Upland Area Greenways Association partnered to apply for this grant. As a four-for-one match, the grant required $50,000 to be raised before approval of the $200,000; that $50,000 came from in-kind gifts of land from Taylor University and the Greenways Association, according to Sutherland.
"We're trying to make Upland a more walkable community," Sutherland said. "If our students and people in the town feel comfortable walking around the Taylor campus or being in the community, (and) . . . they're engaging with one another, it's a subtle way to connect people and help each group understand each other and make some connections that could be meaningful in the long run."
The trail will fill in a portion of a 12-mile gap in the larger Cardinal Greenway trail that runs from Richmond, Indiana to Converse, Indiana, according to Sutherland. The town's long-term hope is to eventually connect the trail with a trail in Gas City, Indiana. If the 12 miles can be completed and the trail connected, six colleges would be connected, promoting community across the miles and providing opportunities for the colleges to connect and work together.
The town council, of which Sutherland is a member, has been heavily involved in the process of securing this grant. Town Council President John Bonham has attended meetings at both the state and county levels to iron out the details. He sees the trail as a way to make the town safer for students and citizens alike.
"This trail, plus a master plan trail, gives citizens the opportunity to . . . walk, run (and) take family in a safe, off-the-road environment that will be cared for and will give them options as to the distances they want to go," Bonham said.
Bonham points out that, in Indiana's rural areas, county roads are often not very wide. A walking trail will remove the risk of walking alongside vehicles on the road. It also allows students and community members a chance to bond over enjoying the scenery and promoting a healthy lifestyle.