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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Forging a New Path

Evansville Trails Coalition moving into the Pagoda as part of broader parks partnership

The Pagoda, vacant since the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau moved out in 2021, has a new office tenant.

The Evansville Trails Coalition is moving to the city’s riverfront from the C.K. Newsome Community Center. The nonprofit organization will use the Pagoda’s lower level, while the historic building’s glassy foyer will be available for event rentals.

Officials note The Pagoda’s location along Pigeon Creek Greenway, facing the river, and they say it makes sense for the trails coalition to have its office there. The Pagoda dates back to 1912.

They also say the office relocation is only one piece of a broader partnership between the trails coalition and the City of Evansville’s Department of Parks and Recreation, which owns The Pagoda.

The groups say they will cross-promote trails events like educational activities, cleanup days, and hikes. Interim Parks and Recreation Executive Director Steve Schaefer describes it as “utilizing resources both ways.”

A new five-year master plan for Evansville Parks and Recreation, which was released this year and makes a variety of recommendations for how to improve local parks facilities, recommends the city work with the trails coalition to establish more trail connections. (Read more in the August/September issue of Evansville Business.)

“Our collaboration with ETC goes beyond a shared vision for the Greenway,” Schaefer said in a press release. “It brings to life the goals we envisioned in our 2023 master plan and marks a new chapter in our city’s commitment to connectivity and wellness.”

Trails coalition Executive Director Lorie Van Hook said the partnership with city parks “is a dream come true for everyone who has been working tireless to expand out trails network and sustain it as a source of pride for our community. We look forward to a bright future where our trails become an integral part of the city’s identity.”

The city parks master plan says that among city residents, the most frequently requested new park amenities are “increased trails and walking paths within parks, from neighborhoods to parks, and from park to park.”

According to the plan, some city facilities have well-developed trail systems but others, such as Wesselman Park, do not.

Greenways in Evansville “are a beloved community amenity, and residents are eager to see the various segments become more fully connected into a comprehensive trail system,” the strategic plan states. “Beyond the greenways, the network of streets with dedicated bicycle lanes continues to grow, but not fast enough for the public.”

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