Fortville wants to start own trail system

FORTVILLE, Ind. - A small northwest Hancock County town is ready to add a treasured amenity for its current and future residents. Fortville leaders hope to build a nearly two-mile trail that will connect the school district with downtown businesses and everything in between.

According to the town's planning administrator, the trail would cost approximately $9 million, but federal funds could cover 80 percent of the costs.

"It's an excellent way for the town to leverage funds," said planning administrator Adam Zaklikowski. "We just have to pay for 20 percent of it."

The federal funds would be part of payments in lieu of taxes, or PILT dollars.

Fortville town manager Joe Renner said the town would look to cover its portion through a bond without raising taxes. Zaklikowski said the town is reviewing several options, including a loan.

The town's portion of the bill would be between $1 million and $2 million, which would also include reconstructing Main Street through downtown and installing sidewalks and crosswalks that are up-to-date with ADA standards.

"We have an excellent old town area and we want to build upon that as much as we can and really create a unique pedestrian-oriented destination on this side of the metro area," Zaklikowski said.

The trail won't likely start work for at least another two years, but the north end would begin at the southern edge of town, at the intersection of Maple and Garden Streets. It would then go south, parallel with Maple Street, also called Fortville Pike. The trail would end at the S.R. 234 near the Mt. Vernon High School and Middle School.

"What we are excited about with this project, it will afford our residents the opportunity to live healthier lifestyles and get some exercise and connect our high school to the old town center," said Zaklikowski. "The quicker we can do that the better."

Once complete, the hope is neighborhoods along the trail will develop their own trails that would connect to the town.