2019 Letters to the editor stock

Calumet Trail, stretching from Mineral Springs Road into Michigan City, COULD be a fantastic community recreational resource to all of Northwest Indiana. However, it is currently mostly unusable. The trail is mostly large gravel that is too big for most people to ride bikes on or even run on comfortably. In addition, there are many spots, especially east of the train station, that are impassable due to high water. You cannot even walk through these areas.

The trail COULD be so much more than it is:

It COULD showcase the United State's newest national park as a destination, connecting the Prairie Duneland Trail to the national park, state park, and other lakeshore amenities, stimulating tourism.

It COULD help the local economy through the pedal power of local and visiting cyclists stopping at businesses both near the Calumet Trail and the Prairie Duneland Trail.

It COULD help the environment by allowing more people to get to the lakeshore and the Dunes Park train station without driving their cars.

It COULD be an accessible way for people with disabilities to access the amazing flora and fauna along the trail.

NIPSCO owns the property that contains the Calumet Trail and the Porter County Parks Department is a partner in the maintenance of the trail. Both NIPSCO and the park department, as well as many local community and advocacy groups, have long sought funding for repairs and upgrades to this trail. Unfortunately, these efforts have so far been unsuccessful.

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The State of Indiana and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, have millions of dollars in grants available this fall through the Next Level Trail Program. It would benefit our community in all the ways mentioned above and more, to show our support, to local officials in getting this trail on this grant list.

Community support is vital. You can show your support in several ways:

1. Show up at the Porter Parks Department Board Meeting (6 p.m., first Thursday of each month, County Commissioners Chambers, County Administration Building).

2. Sign this petition: http://chng.it/VM7vjYcHZV

3. Write your elected officials.

Sarah Smenyak, Dune Acres