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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Connecting Community

Warrick County has enjoyed successful schools, a host of sport and recreation parks, and tight-knit neighborhoods for decades. But until the Warrick Trails project, it lacked the pathways to tie together the community and these facilities.

By the end of 2019, Warrick County residents can expect about 17 miles of new blacktop trails and about 13 miles of shared roadways. The pathways will be built in six stages, with the hub being the newly constructed $5.5-million Friedman Park near Victoria National Golf Club, Newburgh, Indiana. The proposed Warrick Trails also will link up with various other existing paths through Warrick and Vanderburgh counties, according to Howard Nevins, president of Warrick Wellness Pathways (WWP).

However, building the trail system hasn’t been a walk in the park. Without governmental tools of imminent domain and condemnation, the organization must gain landowner approval, county easements, or rights-of-way to build paths in addition to about $12 million in donations and government grants.

Large companies, hospitals, foundations, small businesses, and community members have stepped up to aid the group. In 2016, approximately 400 participated in the inaugural Run Victoria 5K to support Warrick Trails, and many have purchased engraved brick and pavers, which will adorn the new trailheads.

Those trailheads will anchor the trail system in six locations, which will include parking, restrooms, shelters, and bicycle rental and repair stations.

The Warrick Trails team wants the paths to be as environmentally friendly as possible. More residents walking or biking to destinations have the potential to decrease automobile emissions.

“One of my personal objectives is to try to get mothers pushing carriages and people jogging and people riding bikes off shoulders of the roadways and onto paths, in an environment that encourages exercise, health, and safety,” says Nevins.

As president of the Southern Indiana Triathlon Team, producer of health publication Get Active, and a husband and father, board member Steve Roelle says he is excited for access to safer outdoor exercise.

“People literally are taking their lives in their hands to get outside, be active, exercise, and feel good,” says Roelle. “The trails will keep me and my family off the dangerous roads and allow us to be active closer to our home, in a safe environment. It’s going to increase our quality of life.”

The Warrick Trails project has the potential to help attract the brightest in all areas of business and stimulate the local economy.

“When we’re being compared to other cities, we need to have similar selling points to retain talent in any field,” says Roelle.

However, to achieve desired outcomes, the Warrick Trails project still needs help.

“We’re still reaching out to anybody and everyone who’d like to be involved,” says Nevins. “We need project managers who have experience in construction and development. We’d like to get as many people as we can helping row the boat.”

For more information on about Warrick Trails, call 812-402-0323, visit warricktrails.org, or the organization’s Facebook page.

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