by Sarah Einselen
It’s the city limits or bust for the Friends of the Panhandle Pathway.
A Friends board member said Friday that the nonprofit organization has raised about $6,500 since Oct. 30 toward paving a .42-mile stretch of the recreation trail that would connect the trail from its current rural endpoint to Winamac proper.
That would pave the way, so to speak, for the city to pick up where the organization will leave off. Additional mileage within city limits has already been marked using other funds, including Safe Routes to Schools grant money, and more is expected to come.
“The trail is in place, it was built up, graded, graveled, and now we need $39,000 to finish the paving,” said Dan Dolezal, co-chairman of the Friends fundraising committee.
The paved portion of the trail was extended this summer to an endpoint near the intersection of U.S. 35 and Rosser Road. Dolezal hopes to raise the necessary funds to complete the .42-mile stretch next summer.
While a significant amount in grants has enabled the group to pave the current mileage within the last seven years, this portion will be privately funded, Dolezal said.
He’s confident area residents are supportive of the project.
“There’s a lot of interest from the community,” Dolezal said. “It’s a tangible, visible thing. People are used to using the trail and they want to see it come into town.”
Once to Winamac, the Panhandle trail will eventually connect to the depot downtown via city routes established using funds set aside for a linear park project as well as funds from a Safe Routes to Schools grant, according to a Friends donation letter.
The Friends intend to take the trail north of Winamac too, someday.
“The long-range plan is to take it to Tippecanoe River State Park,” Dolezal said. That will happen only after property can be acquired and funds raised, a goal for which there is no timeline as yet.
Another Friends committee is also working on extending the southern tip of the Panhandle trail to reach France Park outside Logansport, he added. It currently ends near the Kenneth rest stop on U.S. 24.