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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Statewide trail may go through Brazil's parks

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The concept of a National Road Heritage Trail for Clay County and Brazil was discussed recently at a joint meeting with the Brazil Parks Board and the Clay Community Parks Association.

Greg Midgley, President of the National Road Heritage Trail Inc., told the group of 30 citizens at Riddell Bank, that the focus of the trail is the Historic National Road in Clay County and Brazil.

Midgley provided some history on the National Road which has been around for 177 years. Towns and cities, including Brazil, were born along the route serving the many travelers who crossed the Hoosier state on this highway.

In the 1970s Interstate 70 was opened allowing all but local traffic to bypass this linear community. The National Road in Indiana became a time capsule of sorts.

This heritage inspired the creation of the National Road Association in the past 10 years and the National Road was recently designated a National Scenic Byway.

During this same 10-year period, various cities began developing trails for recreation and historic preservation along the National Road. Many towns used abandoned railroad lines near the highway as the infrastructure for the non-motorized transportation trails.

It was hoped that, eventually, a continuous trail could be developed going through the entire state.

Terre Haute, Greencastle, Fillmore, Plainfield, Indianapolis and Greenfield already have local pedestrian and bicycle trails.

Midgley was requesting input from the local crowd to determine if Brazil and Clay County would be open to this concept. No opposition was expressed and questions were asked about what steps needed to be taken to begin such a venture.

"A project of this type requires strong local involvement to make it work," Midgley said.

The local Parks Board must support the project and City administration has to approve it. Property owners of the proposed location have to agree to let the land be used for such purpose either through easement, leasing or sale of the property.

A design study would be done and funds raised. Financing can come from various sources including Federal Transportation Enhancement grants, Scenic Byways grants, grants from the state's recreational trails program, community foundations, special interest foundations, private and corporate sponsors and in-kind donation of volunteer labor, services and items. When financing is secured, construction usually starts with bridges and road crossings.

Midgley said it would be ideal if the trail could be made to go through both Forest Park and Craig Park. They would provide rest facilities for travelers and a natural, scenic atmosphere synonymous with the trail.

Toward that end, Midgley said that NRHT Inc. has submitted a grant request to the Indiana Office of Tourism to fund a professional study of the entire 150-mile trail corridor.

This 10-month study would produce a blueprint or master plan on how the National Road Heritage Trail could be created.

The Clay Community Parks Association has been working on a five-year plan for Brazil's parks. This plan is necessary to pursue grant money for various park projects. One of the reasons for the Monday night meeting was to get public in-put about the parks and recreation program in Brazil which has to be included in this five-year plan.

"We would like to include in the plan that we work with the National Road Heritage Trail," said Wilmadean Schepper Baker, a member of the Clay Community Parks Association.

The Parks Association would like to begin with a trail at Craig Park extending east to Northview High School. It's mostly just a dream at this point but one they hope to turn into a reality.

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