The Middlebury community came together in a major way to helped make the Ridge Run Trail a reality. The amazing partners who worked on this project deserve a round of applause for their collaboration and creating a fantastic asset that enhances life for the Middlebury area.
Earlier this year, members of that community came together for a ceremonial groundbreaking for that trail, which will help link a number of locations on the west side of Middlebury with the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. Those locations include Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Northridge schools and Greencroft.
John McKee of the Friends of Middlebury Parks pointed out the many features and benefits of the projects in his remarks, including:
- The Ridge Run Trail system is a multi-use walking, running and bicycling paved trail system that will connect to the Middlebury Greenway on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, the Wayne Avenue Trail and add approx. 1.5 miles of pedestrian trail to the Trails of Middlebury.
- The Trails of Middlebury is a system of interconnecting pedestrian trails and shared-use streets throughout the Middlebury community promoting healthy lifestyle choices through walking, running and biking while providing safe routes of travel to and from schools, work and residences.
- Once completed, the main Ridge Run Trail portion of the system will be maintained by the town of Middlebury and the connectors will be maintained by the property owners.
- The Ridge Run Trail system will make the Middlebury community more attractive for residents and visitors and will be a significant economic development project for the Middlebury community.
McKee also thanked the many community contributors to the project:
- John Yoder, representing Pumpkinvine Nature Trail: It is safe to say that without Pumpkinvine Trail, there’s no need for Ridge Run Trail.
- The Miller family and the Essenhaus team: Major supporters from day one. Joel Miller as a Friends board member is actively involved in the planning process and Randi Yoder is involved in construction. This could have never happened without their major financial support, including a bike-friendly new bridge.
- Wes Culver and the Pretty Place: Also a supporter from day one, as our State Representative, Wes was responsible for passing a bill that creates the Indiana Bicycle Task Force, which plans for connecting existing bicycle trails and how to fund them. Thanks to Wes as a Ridge Run Trail partner and for taking Indiana to the next step in developing bike trails.
- Jennifer Van De Burg of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs: This state agency provided a $50,000 Place-Based Investment Fund grant.
- Middlebury Town Council: Members allowed the Friends organization to make this grant application through the town.
- Shannon Oakes of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County: The foundation provided a $50,000 2-to-1 matching grant. This is a major commitment from a great Vibrant Community backer.
- Tim Deluca of Greencroft of Middlebury: For providing the connecting route to Greencroft and their financial support, a big thank-you goes to Greencroft residents for their interest in and support of the trail during the planning stage.
- Jane Allen of Middlebury schools: Jane has been a “cheerleader” for Ridge Run Trail since it was a glimmer of an idea. The trail will be a significant factor for safe routes to school and a safe place for athletes to train.
- The TrailsFest committee led by Michelle Miller, Amy Stutzman and Brittany Short: They have made significantly financial contributions towards their mission of developing and maintaining the Trails of Middlebury. We will gather July 15th at Trestle Terrace during the 2017 TrailsFest to dedicate Ridge Run Trail.
- The Park and Recreation and the Friends of the Middlebury Parks boards both contributed financially and provided the management direction to plan and develop the trail.
- The Corson Family Foundation was a major contributor as was joined with over 100 businesses, individuals and families to make this the largest community base project in recent history.