IEDC signs off on project funding

Article by Barry Rochford of KPC Media

IEDC OKs Regional Cities money for Fishing Line Trail, rec complex

KENDALLVILLE — Two projects in Noble County officially have been approved to receive Regional Cities Initiative funding, according to an announcement Tuesday from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

The state agency committed $171,500 to the Fishing Line Trail between Rome City and Kendallville and $392,000 to expand the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex on Allen Chapel Road.

The two projects previously had been approved for Regional Cities Initiative funding by the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority.

Noble Trails Inc. is overseeing the $1.02 million project to develop the Fishing Line Trail between Rome City and Kendallville. A 1.25-mile section of the trail already has been paved.

The remaining 3.78 miles are expected to be completed by fall 2018, according to the IEDC’s announcement. When it’s finished, the trail will serve as a link between the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site near Rome City, Sylvan Lake, East Noble School Corp. facilities, the Cole Center Family YMCA in Kendallville and Bixler Lake.

“The health of our communities and our citizens will benefit from the opportunity to increase and maintain exercise and activity in the safe and appealing environment of the Fishing Line Trail,” Noble Trails board President Dr. Terry Gaff said in the IEDC announcement.

“The trail has benefited from the support of the governments of Noble County, Kendallville and Rome City as well as foundations and private individuals, including completing more than 1.25 miles already. But there is still much to accomplish,” he said,

The city of Kendallville will be able to move forward with its planned $2.4 million expansion of the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex, which will include, among other things, the addition of a “pinwheel” of four youth-sized ball fields and accompanying concession stand and restrooms; an additional soccer field; a paved entrance and parking lot and new electronic entrance sign; lighting; paved sidewalks and nature trails connecting to Bixler Lake Park; and a mobile amphitheater.

Mayor Suzanne Handshoe said the Regional Cities Initiative has aided Kendallville and other communities by spurring investment in quality-of-life projects. Northeast Indiana was awarded a $42 million Regional Cities grant in 2015, and the Northeast Indiana RDA has been applying it to quality-of-life projects in the 11-county region, with the goal of boosting the population.

“First of all, I think it was very visionary of the legislators to come up with a concept like this through the Regional Cities process,” Handshoe said.

She added expanding the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex will attract more sports teams and visitors to the city, which means more money spent at local hotels, restaurants and other establishments.

“The economic impact of especially that sports complex is so far-reaching,” she said.

A third Noble County project, the Strawberry Valley Cultural Trail in Ligonier, still is being reviewed by the IEDC. In April, the Northeast Indiana RDA pledged $248,920 in Regional Cities funding toward the city of Ligonier’s plan to build a 5-mile loop trail that would connect the Elkhart Riverwalk to the downtown area, murals, historical landmarks and parks.