Tom Tuley at the construction site. photo by Karen E. Farley
by Karen E. Farley
This fall Nashville will celebrate the opening of the first paved trail in Brown County. On October 31, Phase I of the new Salt Creek Trail will be open to the public.
"People are really excited about getting this first phase finished," says Tom Tuley, vice-chairman of the Salt Creek Trail Steering Committee. "It will be a 12-feet wide, asphalt, and handicap-accessible trail."
The idea of a paved trail in Brown County came from several members in the community, with the late John Rudd attending a presentation in Bloomington on building trails in communities. He came back determined to build one in Nashville. Rudd was a community leader and supporter of many organizations. At the time, he was chairman of Parks and Recreation and asked Tuley to help raise the funds for the trail project.
Tuley, who retired to Brown County after 38 years in the newspaper business, had previous experience in fundraising. He was also an avid runner. Tuley served as chairman for the YMCA Capital Campaign and agreed to serve on the Salt Creek Trail Steering Committee. He serves with Bob Kirlin, chairman of the committee.
"The multi-modal (walking, running, biking, etc.) trail will be developed in four phases," he explains. "The first, from CVS in the village to the Brown County YMCA, is funded with a $1 million grant we received from the Indiana Department of Transportation."
The Salt Creek trail's first phase will begin in front of CVS and will run under Highway 46 near the traffic light along the north bank of Salt Creek, behind the Brown County Inn and the Brown County Law Enforcement building, to the YMCA. It will stop at the at the YMCA parking lot.
"The trailhead at the YMCA will have a plaque that reads Howard F. Hughes Memorial Trailhead," Tuley adds. "An avid hiker, both long and short distance, Howard supported the Salt Creek Trail project from its inception. He would have been proud to see the completion of this accessible trail in his beloved Brown County."
Phase II runs from the YMCA, along Salt Creek into the school corporation's athletic fields and ending at the northwest corner of Eagle Park. The timetable for this phase is unknown and will depend on availability of funds.
Phase III will extend to the Brown County State Park, with a new bridge near the current state park swimming pool parking lot. Construction timetable is also unknown and will depend on the bridge permit.
The final phase of the trail project will be a short section running from Brown County High School under Highway 46 and the along Greasy Creek where it will connect with the main trail. "This will allow athletes and other students to get from the high school to the athletic fields at Eagle Park on foot or bike without having to cross Highway 46," Tuley explains.
When the committee began its fundraising process, they submitted grant applications to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). They raised over $250,000 from private donors, a requirement for INDOT funding for Phase I.
"When we sent in our final grant application to INDOT, we included over 200 letters of support from community members," Tuley says. "They told us that was the most support letters that they have ever received."
Phase III will be funded with a $900,000 grant from Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Although it is considered Phase III, they may begin construction before Phase II.
When asked how the trail will benefit the community, Tuley has done his research and can think of several.
"There are a lot of benefits to both residents and tourists," he says. "The trail will allow tourists to get from the state park and the three hotels, Salt Creek Inn, Brown County Inn and the Comfort Inn to town without having to cross 46. It will also cut down traffic during tourist season."
Besides the health benefits of a trail, there have been studies done on the economic impact of trails in communities.
"I have done research on the economic benefits and I have found that trails drive up property values and economic development along the trail," he says. "There are 22 businesses on the Monon Trail in Indianapolis that are there only because of the trail."
When the trail opens in October, the committee hopes that the community will see the impact and will consider being a part of the project. The committee will start the fundraising for the next phase as soon as the trail opens.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Phase I will be held on Friday, November 8, 2013 which also coincides with the Community Resource/Celebration Fair at the YMCA. There will be entertainment and informational booths from social services to alternative health providers. The event is free and open to public from 4 to 7 p.m.
For more information on the trail contact Tom Tuley at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. To make a donation, contact the Brown County Community Foundation at
<www.bccfin.org.>, or call (812) 988-4882.
A separate fund is set up for the trail.