Fishing Line Trail connecting Rome City and Kendallville may be complete this year
By Steve Garbacz | KPC Media - The News Sun
Plans for a trail connecting Rome City to Kendallville took a few years to come together, but once it got going, the progress has been rapid.
Now, 2019 may be the year the 13-mile trail is completed.
With just a few areas to fill in around Kendallville, the Fishing Line Trail that runs northwest/southeast between the two communities is almost wrapped up. On Tuesday, representatives from Noble Trails Inc., the nonprofit that has been developing and building the trail, gave an update to the Kendallville City Council.
People started talking about county trails more than 10 years ago, but Noble Trails didn’t start picking up steam until more recently.
“When we initially looked at putting some trails together, we were trying to think what were the low-hanging fruits. We got really lucky there was a lot of property available, the railroad corridor was in really good shape,” Scott Allen, the Noble Trails secretary who is also a professional engineer.
In 2016, the group was able to pave its first stretch of trail at the Gene Stratton-Porter site, then hosted a celebration and its first annual 5K run/walk with that small first section to show the wider community what it was offering.
Since then, donations have been flowing and Noble Trails has made tremendous progress.
“We have continued to develop, we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the community,” Allen said. “And there seems to be a lot of excitement.”
As of today, people can already use about 4 miles of trail starting from the Noble County Convention and Visitors Bureau all the way down to C.R. 600E.
Last year, 1.1 miles of trail from Sawyer Road to Angling Road was completed. And walkways are already in place from U.S. 6 down Fairview Boulevard, into Dowling Street and along Allen Chapel Road to the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex.
The only pieces that are left to be done this year include a small connection between C.R. 600E and Sawyer Road and then a “northside trail” connection from Angling Road around the Cornerstone Plaza and residential areas north of U.S. 6 until it meets Riley Road.
A small 0.15-mile section is paved at Riley Road and then Noble Trails is working with the city to fill in the last gap from Friendly Village and along U.S. 6 to the intersection with Fairview Boulevard.
Allen said he’s hopeful that all of those sections will be complete this year, which will create a seamless connection.
“When we’re all said and done, that will give us about a 13-mile corridor,” Allen said. “Pretty soon we’ll be having our own marathon out here.”
The completion of the Fishing Line Trail is getting close enough that Noble Trails is already looking forward to its next potential project.
The group applied for a Next Level Trails grant being offered by the governor’s office, seeking money for a possible new trail that would run from Kendallville south and connect to Avilla.
If Noble Trails is able to get a big grant, that project could take off quickly. The only problem is that the state has about $20 million available but received around $180 million in requests from groups around the state, Allen said. So competition will be really stiff.
“We’ve already had excellent feedback from all the property owners through there,” Allen said of the proposed route to Avilla. “One of those things in our mind now is how we can connect from Angling Road to Kraft” and then continue south.
Outside of one grant from the Department of Natural Resources, all of the Fishing Line Trail has been funded through donations, Allen said. The organization looks to continue that momentum and work to build even more trails and improve connectivity between all of Noble County’s communities.
“That is one of the great reasons why we’ve had such success is because of the people here in Noble County,” he said. Allen thanked Kendallville for its ongoing cooperation and for the help from City Engineer Scott Derby, who continues to coordinate with the nonprofit today.
City Council President Jim Dazey expressed his admiration and support of Noble County’s ongoing efforts.
“It has been very enjoyable to watch what has developed in four, five years,” Dazey said. “I can remember when you first paved up by Gene Stratton-Porter, what a big celebration that was. It’s great to see. It’s something that’s going to open up our community.”