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Hidden Treasure

Federal grant will enhance
Heritage Trail, train incline

Projected upgrades will improve
hiking, cycling on the trail, officials say

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

September 2011 Edition Cover

September 2011
Edition Cover

MADISON, Ind. (September 2011) – When Erin Kindle of Dupont, Ind., and Tina Gourley of Madison, Ind., were enrolled in an Indiana University bachelor’s degree program at Ivy Tech Community College, they would sometimes take study breaks by hiking the Heritage Trail of Madison.
Now they return to the trail for recreation and improving their fitness.
“It’s a nice little scenic trail,” said Kindle, 29. “It’s away from everything else but you’re passing people all the time so you feel safe.”
“I feel like it’s a good workout,” said her friend, Gourley, 35. “By the time you get to the top you’re ready to start back down hill again!”
Mark Turner, a former Madison resident who now lives in Carmel, Ind., said the Heritage Trail compares favorably to the much longer Monon Trail that runs through his neighborhood. “The Heritage Trail’s a lot steeper than what I thought it would be,” said Turner, 41. “When I walked it the first time, I kept thinking it would level off, but it never did.”
He added, “I like the scenery, and it’s a great way to see the river.”
Kindle, Gourley and Turner are among hundreds who hike Madison’s Heritage Trail each year. If they’ve been observant, they’ve noticed some changes in recent years. Many more are coming in the next year, as the result of two federal grants announced this summer.

Madison Heritage Trall
Timeline

1995 – Idea for trail conceived as a result of the Total Quality of Life Initiative.
1996 – Plans announced for a pedestrian and bicycling trail connecting Madison’s hilltop and downtown. The name “Heritage Trail” is selected in a name-the-trail contest. Madison Trail Committee gets $1,000 from Historic Madison and $5,000 from the Community Foundation.
1997 – Sunday afternoon walks and National Trails Day activities acquaint community with the proposed trail route. Riverfront Development Committee endorses effort to tie the trail to its Vaughn Drive project.
1998 – Heritage Trail is one of 42 projects nationwide to get a $1,000 grant from the Conservation Fund. Community Foundation gives $3,500 in unrestricted funding and $500 from the Jones endowment.
1999 – At urging of State Rep. Markt Lytle, Indiana General Assembly allocates $435,000 for the trail. The state’s Build Indiana fund contributes another $45,000. Engineering for 12- to 14-foot wide trail begins.
2000 – Indiana Department of Natural Resources grants $88,000.
2001 – Wingham Construction is awarded contract to grade first section of trail, from Crooked Creek to the quarry.
2002 – First section of trail is paved. Grand opening of first section is held on Sept. 21. Heritage Trail Inc. is incorporated, with officers Tom Pritchard, president; Karen Bump, vice president; Jim Olson, treasurer; and Julie Rubio, secretary. State awards a $1 million federal Transportation Enhancement grant.
2007 – Bob Greene moves to Madison and begins cleanup along the abandoned railroad tracks west of Vernon Street. He adopts Heritage Trail cleanup as his personal volunteer mission. Ratio Architects completes an environmental and design study, which is submitted to the Indiana Department of Transportation.
2008 – With the state applying pressure to use the $1 million grant from 2002, the city of Madison agrees to a plan diverting $500,000 of the Transportation Enhancement funds from the Heritage Trail to the riverfront development project.
2010 – State signs off on environmental study. Civil engineering firm Butler, Fairman and Seufert Inc. and landscape architects Rundell Ernstberger Associates are selected for trail design work.
2011 – Heritage Trail Inc. purchases 10 acres of riverfront property from Fred Koehler for development as Heritage Park. City of Madison receives a $382,776 Transportation Enhancement grant to complete the next phase of the trail, from Crooked Creek to Vaughn Drive.
Spring 2012 – Next phase of trail will be let for bidding.

The lower portion of the trail, from Crooked Creek to the western edge of Vaughn Drive, will be widened and paved in 2012 at a cost of $1 million or more. The city of Madison received a $382,776 Transportation Enhancement grant to add to a previous grant of $500,000. The city will also kick in $200,000 from its Economic Development Income Tax funds for the project.
In the same grant cycle, the city received a Transportation Enhancement grant of $403,000 for improvements that will make the Madison Railroad incline more pedestrian-friendly. With matching funds the railroad will provide, the project will have $500,000 in funding. The work will start in 2012.
A third area of improvements is the Madison Heritage Park now in development on 10 acres of form industrial land on the riverfront. Trail director Bob Greene, who spearheaded the effort to acquire the land, envisions it as an area of natural beauty, where people can enjoy nature in close proximity to the Ohio River.
These three efforts are progressing simultaneously in a coordinated effort by volunteers, corporate donors and government officials. The result will be a scenic but physically challenging pedestrian and cycling route between the west end of Madison’s riverfront and hilltop homes and recreation areas.
The Heritage Trail is owned and maintained by the city of Madison, with the help of a volunteer organization headed by Greene.
In the past year, the trail organization’s name has been changed from Heritage Trail Inc. to Heritage Trail Conservancy to reflect the volunteers’ stewardship mission.
As Greene puts it, “We are a 16-year-old, volunteer-based organization dedicated to the preservation and management of the natural, scenic, historical and cultural resources associated with the Heritage Trail greenway, in order to provide primitive outdoor recreation and educational opportunities for trail users and park users.”
Heritage Trail to be enhanced
The city of Madison has hired the civil engineering firm of Butler, Fairman and Seufert Inc. and landscape architects Rundell Ernstberger Associates to design the improvements for the lower portion of the trail. A draft plan dated July 29, 2011, is on file at city hall, and artistic renderings are expected soon.
The new section will be paved to a width of 10-12 feet, with 2-foot shoulders. Because it is being built with a federal grant, all construction must comply with federal guidelines.
Madison’s community development director, Jenny Eggenspiller, said plans call for two areas to be highlighted. At the corner of Vaughn Drive and Vernon Street, where the Heritage Trail meets the riverfront walk, there will be landscaping and signage to call attention to the trail, as well as additional parking spaces.

Bob Greene

"It is the most incredible and fascinating landmark we have in Madison.’

– Bob Greene, Heritage Trail Director

Parking and landscaping will also be added at McIntire Street, near Crooked Creek. Hikers and cyclists will have a choice of taking a path to an overlook of the stone arch bridge, or taking another path that will lead them over the bridge to the hillside portion of the trail.
The city expects to put the project out for construction bids in spring 2012.
The idea for the trail originated in 1995. From the beginning, it was volunteers who provided the momentum for planning and fundraising, not to mention work with shovels and axes. Initial grants came from local organizations as well as the state of Indiana.
The first section of trail was paved and opened to the public in 2002. It is a steep, three-quarter-mile segment from Crooked Creek to the crest of the bluff, near the Madison Correctional Unit.
Since 2002, unpaved segments have been added near the top and bottom. The top segment connects to the parking lot under the Madison State Hospital water tower, while the lower segment crosses Crooked Creek and connects to the riverfront walk along Vaughn Drive.
After the first section of trail was paved, volunteers took a breather for a few years but were re-energized after Green moved to Madison in 2007 and started clearing debris along the abandoned railroad tracks in downtown Madison. He soon became their No. 1 volunteer and eventually assumed the title of “trail director.”
From 2007 to 2009, much of the trail work was accomplished by offenders from the Madison Correctional Unit, who worked under Greene’s direction. During this time, the trail was extended across the stone arch bridge over Crooked Creek, connecting the paved portion with downtown neighborhoods. This year, the Jefferson County Probation Department and Drug Court have referred probationers who need to do service hours.
The city of Madison maintains the Heritage Trail as a city park. The city is the designated recipient for the federal Transportation Enhancement grant and will manage next year’s trail construction, in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

SuEllen Voris

Photo by Laura Hodges

SuEllen Voris of
Madison walks her
dog, Misty, on the
Heritage Trail.

Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong is quick to acknowledge the trail volunteers, however. “The committee is all volunteers and they do a great job. They keep a lot of work off the city,” said Armstrong.
In addition to Greene, current offers of the Heritage Trail Conservancy are Chris Harper, vice president; Jim Olson, treasurer; and Ben Canida, secretary.

Safety improvements planned for railroad incline

In an unusual move, the Indiana Department of Transportation awarded money to a second, related project at the same time.
The Madison Railroad, operated by the city of Madison, in July was awarded $403,000 in to make improvements to the historic railroad incline between Madison’s downtown and hilltop.
“We want to preserve it and make it safe and aesthetically pleasing for the public,” said Cathy Hale, CEO of the Madison Railroad.
She expects to start work in 2012. The half-million-dollar project will include excavation and rehabilitation of the incline area, landscaping and installation of historic markers and signage. The project also includes restoring the steps from the incline to Madison State Hospital and replacement of ties to support the original rail structure.
While the project will not make it possible to operate a train on the tracks, it does not preclude the possibility that the track could be rehabilitated for that purpose if there is a need later.

Heritage Trail Map

Hale said hikers on the nearby Heritage Trail often walk on the rail bed, too, which is dangerous in its current state. “We want to upgrade it to make it safe for a walking path,” said Hale, noting that the incline was the site of the first rail line in the state of Indiana. “We hate to see a piece of history lost like that.”
The railroad cut was constructed from 1836 to 1841 and is 7,012 feet long. Greene said, “It is the most incredible and fascinating landmark we have in Madison. It is an engineering marvel that brought people from all over the world to see it.”
Greene is pleased that Madison Railroad will be upgrading the tracks, which run parallel to a portion of the Heritage Trail. “The railroad incline should be an integral part of the trail system, with total access as far as walkers are concerned,” he said. “If restored, it will be a great tourist attraction for Madison. There’s a great fascination and love affair that the public has with railroads.”

Heritage Park to be protected

Greene has big plans for Heritage Park, too. He envisions a primitive, wooded area fronting the river, with a floating interpretive center on a permanently anchored barge.
Greene became acquainted with the site when he tried to walk his dog, Brandy, from his home on West Second Street to the river. He found his way blocked by junk cars and other scrap along the abandoned railroad line that runs parallel to the river. The railroad bed itself was full of silt and barely recognizable as an important part of Madison’s railroading days.
Although the land was privately owned, he set about clearing it, recruiting other volunteers whenever he could. He mentions John Hawk as an early and frequent volunteer.
“People told me I was a fool for doing what I was doing,” said Greene of his volunteer cleanup efforts. “(They’d say) ‘You’re cleaning up property that someone else is going to benefit from.’ I said, ‘That’s true, but it’s my neighborhood and it needs to be cleaned up.”
Greene said the future park area was “a tattered urban landscape” and the salvage yard and trucking garage on the 10-acre site constituted “an environmental wasteland.” During the remediation phase of the future park, Greene got permission from the two tenants to collect and recycle at least 15 scrap vehicles, tons of scrap metal, more than 3,200 tires and 600 feet of railroad track. He had trail supporter Tony Hammock of Madison remove 43 lead acetylene cylinders, which he says could have cost $5,000 each for a professional to remove.
Offenders from the Madison Correctional Unit cut dense undergrowth and cleared away driftwood.
Dr. Bob Canida, a Madison dentist, put up $2,000 for an environmental study. Various members of the community donated $2,300 for tire recycling. Arvin Sango Inc. gave $7,000 for excavating. The Madison Street Department and the Jefferson County Highway Department made important in-kind donations.
Meanwhile, Greene worked to find private donors to buy the 10-acre site from owner Fred Koehler. “No one thought we could raise a quarter million dollars to buy this property,” he remembered.

Photo by Laura Hodges

Heritage Trail Director Bob Greene
talks with trail walkers Tina
Gourley (left) of Madison and
Erin Kindle of Dupont, Ind.

Individuals and businesses gave a total of $132,500. The Grote Endowment at the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County contributed $5,000. After intensive lobbying by Greene, the Indiana Heritage Trust Fund committed $122,000 of the funds it collects from Hoosiers who buy environmental license plates for their vehicles.
The purchase price of $250,000 was raised in only eight weeks. The property was transferred to the Heritage Trail Conservancy on April 29, 2011.
The Indiana Heritage Trust Fund not only contributed money for the 10-acre park but conferred a conservation easement that will protect it from commercial development in perpetuity.
“This is a model for public-private partnership,” said Greene. “You don’t have to have great infusions of government money – just a group of believers with a desire to get it done. The most important thing is the ownership everyone takes by working down here.”
Now Greene has turned his attention to purchasing the six acres that lie between the 10-acre parcel and the Madison wastewater treatment plant. “My dream – and I hope I can do it before the end of the year – is to find a philanthropist who will buy this,” said Greene.
He continued, “We think we’re one of the best investments anyone can make in Madison. All across the nation, greenways are taking their place of importance in communities.”

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