Valpo asked to reconsider pathway plans

2012-09-12T20:30:00Z Valpo asked to reconsider pathway plansBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com
September 12, 2012 8:30 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | After hearing all the options developed so far for the Vale Park Road pathway between Keystone Commons and Windsor Park subdivisions, the city was asked Wednesday to come up with better options.

City Engineering Director Tim Burkman presented the proposed routes to the city's Redevelopment Commission and about 10 residents who live in subdivisions along Harrison Boulevard that would be adjacent to the pathway. The proposed routes were developed by the consultants from The Troyer Group based on ideas provided by city staff.

As proposed, the pathway would go south from the end at Keystone Commons and connect with the high school property before going west parallel to the boundaries of Oakwood, Manchester Meadows and Harrison West subdivisions before linking up with the cul de sac at West Wind Drive in Windsor Park.

An extension north of Keystone Commons to Ransom Road also was proposed along with a pathway along the southern border of the school property east to Campbell Street. Two routes were proposed for connecting with the latter path, both on school property.

Residents Rick Gabey and Bill Herring were concerned about the loss of privacy they paid for when they bought their property. The land north of the three subdivisions is farmland and forest now. Gabey feared the loss of the forest, but Herring felt the same about the corn field.

Herring said his subdivision maintains several miles of pathways within its 25 acres and the residents have had problems with criminal activity there. Assuring the commission, "This is not just a NIMBY fit," Herring said, "I'm very uncomfortable with the situation because we live with it now."

Resident John Walsh said he applauded the idea of bike trails but added, "I implore you to use alternatives to people's back yards. It's reasonable to expect there will be subdivisions (on the vacant land) some day, but not a pathway." He and others suggested the city use existing city streets, even those in the subdivisions, instead of building behind the homes.

Burkman said the pathway will be 10 feet wide within a 50-foot-wide right of way that will provide a buffer. The city would work to avoid taking out the trees as much as possible, and the pathway would be maintained by the parks department and patrolled by police.

The commission asked Burkman to meet with school officials to see what they would prefer done on their property. That information and the comments from the public will be taken back to the consultants to try to develop a plan more acceptable to everyone, and he can report back to the commission at a future meeting.

The city tentatively has a $708,000 federal congestion mitigation/air quality program grant for the project that originally was expected to cover 80 percent of the cost. The system unveiled Wednesday could cost up to $1.5 million and would require additional federal money.

The project design and land acquisition process are expected to last through 2013, with construction in 2014, and the commission's Executive Director Stuart Summers said CMAQ funds might not be available for it by then because of federal deficit reduction efforts.

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