Kenney Park Trail complete
By Samantha Whiting | KPC Media - The Advance Leader
People have been out enjoying the warm weather this week at the newly paved 1-mile track at Kenney Park.
As part of the first phase of the $1.27 million Strawberry Cultural Trail project, the path was paved and was extended to 12-feet wide. Prior to the trail improvement, it was a 6-foot-wide gravel path.
It also has been measured out to exactly 1 mile, with markers each 1/4 mile. A line will be painted down the center of the track in the near future, which will designate a separate lane for biking.
Tuesday afternoon, Bethany Page of Albion, and Brittany Moore of Ligonier were running on the track to train for a half-marathon, with goals of completing a full marathon by the end of the year. It was their first time this season using the track.
“I like that they widened it,” Moore said. “We can actually enjoy our talks and let someone pass us, we don’t have to get all the way over. That’s nice.”
Moore also said the new track will promote fitness, something she thinks would be good for the city.
“I think it definitely makes the park look nicer,” Page said. “I think more people will want to run on a paved (track) than gravel.”
Ligonier Mayor Patty Fisel is impressed with the new trail.
“I think it’s fabulous,” Fisel said. “It’s been a long time in the planning stage so it’s really good to see people out using it and walking on it. Hopefully it will help them to realize the scope of our plans for the trails, so when we talk about the trail they can see what it actually looks like.”
The project will create a 5-mile loop around and through the city’s downtown, expanding on the current Elkhart Riverwalk and placing every Ligonier resident within a half-mile of the trail. It will include the paving of paths and construction of boardwalks connecting downtown murals, statues and historical landmarks to the city’s five parks.
The project has been split into three phases, the first being the Kenney Park loop, which is now complete.
Phase two, which Fisel said is beginning soon, will start near the original Elkhart Riverwalk, connecting to the bridge and into Pettit Park.
The second phase could be a challenge, according to Fisel. The plan is for the trail to go down Richmond Street, which currently doesn’t have a sidewalk.
“They’re going to have to build a boardwalk,” Fisel explained. “It will extend out over the river there for it to go down to the bridge. It’s going to be really, really neat ... It’ll kind of extend out over the river and then you can stand there and you’re actually looking straight over Pettit Park.”
Then, Pettit Park will have a paved trail through it.
Next year, the project will move downtown for phase three.
Bridging the gap between recreation and education, the trail will incorporate informational signs, benches and bike racks in the loop to allow visitors to both exercise and learn more about the history of the city. New crosswalks, signs and mile markers with the Strawberry Valley logo will help users find their way around the loop.
Funding for the project is coming from $480,000 committed by the Ligonier Redevelopment Commission and $300,000 over three years from the Noble County Economic Development Corp., which was contingent on Ligonier being awarded $248,920 in Regional Cities Initiative funding. The city got word it received the regional cities funding in early August 2017.
Fisel said the timing of the completion of the Kenney Park track was great.
“I think we got it done just in time,” Fisel said. “(Our engineers) did an awesome job. Everybody’s been cooperative and working together and that’s how we make things happen.”
The trail at Kenney Park can be accessed by parking in the parking lot at 520 W. Union St., Ligonier.