Ligonier setting big goals, wants to add more trails

February 6th, 2019

By Kayla Brennan | KPC Media - The News Sun

Ligonier wants to be the hub of the county.

One of Mayor Patty Fisel’s goals for Strawberry Valley Cultural Trail is to make Ligonier a destination point that will connect the towns and cities within the county together. This trail has the potential to do that.

The project is projected to cost $1.27 million and should be completed in approximately four phases. The trail as a whole would create a 5-mile loop throughout the city.

In the first phase of the trail, a 1-mile, 12-foot wide track was made at Kenney Park. The trail has markers every one-fourth of a mile. The first phase was completed in May 2018 and cost about $210,000.

Noble County Economic Development Corp. and the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority gave money to Ligonier this fall in the amount of $229,568 to help complete the current phase — phase two — of the trails. Officials will look into other funding opportunities for the next phases.

For the rest of the project, Fisel has her eye on the grant money from the state to make the trails bigger and better than they are now.

“As we go along, we will continue to use those funds, but we also know that there are going to be other funds available,” Fisel said.

She said there is a possibility of more grant money from the state that Ligonier can apply for, but the details for that will become available as the project gets closer to that point.

“We would like to put in for that because, like every other project we have ever done, as we go along we always find there are things that we have to add or changes that we have to make,” Fisel said. “We will accommodate those changes. We’ll just keep seeking funding as it’s needed.”

If there is money available in grants for trails, Fisel said the city will apply for it to get as much out of these trails as possible.

“We want the trails to be the very best they can be, so we don’t want to miss any opportunity to make that happen,” Fisel said.

In order to become the hub of trails in Noble County, the next step in that process would be to connect the trails to the attractions of Ligonier.

Fisel says connecting the trail to the nearby West Noble schools campus is an imperative part of the project.

“The main goal is that we are trying to use our trail system to make Ligonier a destination point because we are going to connect our murals, statues and all five of our parks,” Fisel said.

But officials want Ligonier to be part of the bigger picture — the regional picture. Fisel wants to be able to connect what the city is creating to the rest of the trail systems throughout the county.

She mentioned even going out of the county connecting to trails like the Noble Trails route that is still under development and will link Rome City to Kendallville when done.

She thinks this will be an on-going project that will be added to as it goes along, and opportunities to involve the community can come into play.

“There could be opportunities for the community to buy into the project,” Fisel said. “By that I mean to be able to maybe put in some benches, maybe put in a bicycle rack and things like that so the community can feel like they are part of the project.”

But one goal ranks supreme.

“Not only do we want Ligonier to be a destination, but we want to be the hub, the center, that gets everyone connected with everyone else,” Fisel said.