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Noble County groups seeking $860,000 in regional funding

February 13th, 2017

KPC News - The News Sun

Three Noble County projects will be among seven pitches for northeast Indiana’s “Road to One Million” funding at an upcoming Regional Development Authority meeting Tuesday.

The development authority, which makes decisions about how to spend the $42 million in Regional Cities funding awarded to northeast Indiana, will hear proposals for Ligonier’s Strawberry Valley Cultural Trail, Kendallville’s Outdoor Recreation Complex and Noble Trails Inc.’s Fishing Line Trail.

Combined, the three Noble County agencies will be requesting a total of $829,000.

Other projects being considered at the meeting Tuesday afternoon at Sylvan Cellars in Rome City include River Park Fort Wayne, $5,276,000; Eagle Theater, $996,567; Wabash Trails, $960,236; and the Russel Evelyn Fahl Aquatics Facility, $861,304.

To date, the RDA has approved $26.4 million in projects. Decisions are pending on two other projects totaling $7.9 million.

That means one or more of the proposals being heard Tuesday might not be funded, or won’t be fully funded, because the group will be out of money, Road to One Million Director Michael Galbraith said.

The city of Ligonier’s proposal seeking $254,000 covers the first phase of the Strawberry Valley Cultural Trail, estimated at $1.4 million, which will build on the current Elkhart Riverwalk with the paving of paths and construction of boardwalks connecting downtown murals, statues and historical landmarks to the city’s parks. Mayor Patty Fisel has said the design of the 5-mile loop will put each city resident within a half mile of the trail.

The Ligonier Redevelopment Commission has committed $480,000 to the project, and Noble County Economic Development Corp. has agreed to contribute $347,843 to the project over a three-year period, contingent to the project receiving Regional Cities Initiative funding. Additional costs will be covered with private donations and in-kind matching.

Kendallville has applied for a $400,000 grant for construction of Phase 2 of the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex on Allen Chapel Road east of the city. The figure represents 16.75 percent of the project’s estimated total cost of $2.75 million, according Jim Pankop, Kendallville Park and Recreation Department director.

As of Dec. 31, about $373,132 had been raised in private donations, pledges and grants. A Dekko Foundation challenge grant will match every dollar raised up to $500,000.

Phase 2 will add a second pinwheel of four youth ball fields complete with fencing, lights, a concession stand, restrooms and irrigation. An additional soccer field will be added.

Paved sidewalks connecting the pinwheels and soccer fields, nature trails connecting to Bixler Lake Park, a new electronic entrance sign, paving, lighting and striping parking areas, a mobile amphitheater and an endowment fund are included in the plan.

Noble Trails Inc. has applied for a $175,000 grant to support construction of the 12-mile Fishing Line Trail connecting Rome City with Kendallville, primarily following the old GR&I Railroad corridor. The total project cost is approximately $1.02 million.

Noble Trails, a 501(c) nonprofit organization, was formed in 2011 and dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents of Noble County through trail development. Fundraising began in the fall of 2015.

The group has acquired more than 70 percent of the Fishing Line Trail route. A 1.25-mile paved section just south of the Gene Stratton Porter State Historic Site in Rome City was completed last fall.

The officially endorsed Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project has been called the Fishing Line Trail because that was the name people gave to the GR&I Railroad that people took north for fishing trips.

Improving quality of life

Three Noble County groups are requesting funding from northeast Indiana Regional Cities “Road to One Million” program. They’ll make their pitches Tuesday to the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority. Here’s what they’re asking for.

Strawberry Valley Cultural Trail

  • Who: City of Ligonier
  • Request: $254,000
  • What: Phase one of a 5-mile loop building on Elkhart Riverwalk and connecting downtown murals, statues and historical landmarks to the city’s parks.

Outdoor Recreation Complex

  • Who: City of Kendallville
  • Request: $400,000
  • What: Phase 2 adding four youth ball fields complete with fencing, lights, a concession stand, restrooms and irrigation and one additional soccer field. Project also includes sidewalks, trails, an electronic sign and other features.

Fishing Line Trail

  • Who: Noble Trails Inc.
  • Request: $175,000
  • What: Construction of the 12-mile Fishing Line Trail connecting Rome City with Kendallville primarily following the old GR&I Railroad corridor.