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Wabash River Trail approved for Wabash construction

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

Permission has been granted for the Wabash River Trail (WRT) to begin construction in Wabash after a memorandum of understanding was unanimously approved by the Board of Works Thursday evening.

The trail will pass through a portion of Paradise Spring Historical Park and a nearby maintenance road which runs east and west on the north side of the Wabash River. 

WRT Committee Chair Amy Ford said the Wabash portion of the trail will be the easiest part of construction. It will act as a connector between Wabash and Lagro once completed.

According to the memo, WRT will “develop and construct the trail in a manner that will cause minimum disruption” to the park and maintenance road. The memo further states the trail will not damage, alter or interfere with any entities owned by the City. 

Board of Works member Todd Titus said he would like to see the WRT committee work with Parks Department Superintendent Adam Hall for coordination purposes.

“There’s going to be a point when those trails come together (at Paradise Spring), and there’s going to need to be cooperation,” Titus said. “The public is going to see that as one trail.”

The memo also states WRT may develop, construct and maintain facilities, amenities and improvements for public enjoyment of the trail with written permission of the Board of Works.

Mark Frantz, an attorney representing WRT, said all necessary permits have been obtained since his previous visit to the Board of Works in February 2017. Mayor Scott Long said paperwork had been received from Duke Energy, United Consulting, Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Natural Resources. 

Frantz said the City is one of the final property owners the organization is seeking permission from for building the trail. According to Ford, there is still a gap in the trail from Lagro to Wabash due to needing permission from several other property owners and because the alignment of the trail goes through a DNR flood plain. The remaining alignment is expected to be completed at the same time, which Ford noted is slower but more efficient over doing the trail one section at a time.

In terms of starting and completing construction on the Paradise Spring connector, no definitive dates have been provided. However, Ford said with the memorandum of understanding being approved, she hopes to get started as soon as possible.

Frantz said at this point, WRT still has to communicate with the City to ensure a common understanding on the alignment and construction of the trail, after which construction will begin. Frantz was unable to provide an estimated start and completion date for the project as well.