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SCHERERVILLE | The town has entered a contract with Robinson Engineering to design a bicycle path connecting the Pennsy Greenway to the Erie Lackawanna trail.

The Town Council decided Thursday to pay up to $89,778 for a study that will include surveying, design work, details on any needed property acquisition, and other items necessary for a 2.1-mile trail connecting the existing regional trails.

Robinson Engineering's Jeffrey Pintar said the firm vetted five routes after being asked in 2013 to explore connecting the trails.

The preferred route would run east along U.S. 30 from the Pennsy. It would turn north at the Cherry Creek Center retail plaza on U.S. 30, then continue east along 75th Avenue to the Erie Lackawanna.

"We're ready to pursue this design," Pintar said. "It's the most direct route."

The Indiana Department of Transportation has approved use of its right of way, he said. 

The 10-foot wide path would run along the south side of 75th, where "there appears to be enough right of way," Pintar said.

"This is the path of least resistance and probably provides the most benefit for bike riders," he said.

The town sought but did not receive federal grant money for the engineering work. It will continue to explore outside funding possibilities for construction, which might begin next spring, according to Pintar.

Also at Thursday's meeting:

• The council approved the town's application for federal community development block grant funds, with the intention that the $122,390 for which it's eligible would be used to improve handicapped accessibility at Stephen, Rohrman and Plum Creek parks.

• The council added $33,000 to the animal control budget to increase the two officers' status from part time to full time. That will mean expanded weekday hours and some weekend shifts.

• The council approved a contract for $29,430 with demolition contractor Actin, Inc., of East Chicago to demolish the old laundromat at 39 W. Joliet St. Demolition is expected to begin in the next several weeks, after Indiana Department of Environmental Management permits are received.

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