Path Expansion

Madison’s Heritage Trail
adds five acres along riverfront

Nature Trust grant, donations
help fund land purchase

By Don Ward

(January 2013) – Thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust, the Heritage Trail Conservancy in Madison, Ind., has purchased another five acres of land along the Ohio River to further extend its 13-mile Heritage Trail walking and bicycle path. The purchase was announced by Bob Greene, the nonprofit group’s executive director.

Heritage Trail Map

Map provided

The recent expansion includes a
portion of the site of the former
Johnson Starch Works factory
that operated in the early 1900s.

The grant, awarded Dec. 11, will cover three-fourths of the $100,000 purchase price of the land, which belonged to six heirs of the late James P. Maddox, known for operating tobacco warehouses in Madison many years ago. Private donations will cover the rest of the purchase cost, Greene said.
Greene has recently recruited new board members for the group and on Dec. 4 appeared before the 14-member Bicentennial Nature Trust board in Indianapolis with new board chair Dick McCracken of Madison. Other new board members include Ben Canida, Gary Valen and Ryan Myers. They join existing board members Tony Hammock, Chris Harper and Jim Olson.
The nonprofit board oversees fundraising, maintenance and planning of the trail, which extends from the Madison State Hospital grounds on the hilltop down to the Ohio River at Vaughn Drive. The recent purchase gives the group more access to the river and borders the existing trail near the far west end of Vaughn Drive. The land includes an area that was once part of the site of the former Johnson Starch Works that operated in Madison in the early 1900s. The factory employed about 150 people and its complex of buildings included corn storage sheds and a large warehouse that later became part of Tower Manufacturing Co. In 1890, Richard Johnson sold the starch company to a national corporation. The company closed around 1914, and Maddox bought the property in 1924 for his tobacco warehouses.
Greene said he was able to track down Maddox’s heirs, two granddaughters living out of state and four great grandchildren. They all agreed to sell the property “at a fair price,” Greene said.
The purchase brings to 15 the total number of acres owned by the Heritage Trail Conservancy, Greene said.
“We are so grateful to our donors and supporters of the trail to enable us to buy this land that will be yet another step in the development of this wonderful natural asset for Madison,” Greene said.

Bob Greene

Bob Greene

The Bicenten-nial Nature Trust Board was created by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels in January 2012 by setting aside $20 million in state money. The fund was supported recently with another $10 million grant from the Lilly Endowment.
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ website, the intent of the trust is “to preserve and protect important conservation and recreation areas throughout the state of Indiana. Property ac-quired with this fund will become part of the public trust to ensure that the land is protected for future generations.”
Indiana will celebrate its bicentennial in 2016 and these acquired lands will be recognized, the website says.
The land in Madison acquired with Bicentennial Nature Trust funds will be placed into a conservation easement for its future protection.
Greene, meanwhile, was honored last year by the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce with its Jeff Garrett Community Service Award for his work in cleaning up the trail, fundraising to extend the trail into the downtown area, and for his building the nonprofit agency into a viable operation.
Development of the Heritage Trail began in 1995 as part of a Total Quality of Life initiative. Using local and state funds, the first leg of the trail opened in 2002. A $1 million federal grant was later awarded that year to help further develop it. With pressure from the state to use the money, former Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong diverted half of the money to the Madison Riverfront Development Project. Some of the remaining money was used to hire design consultants for the future development of the Heritage Trail.
Greene moved to Madison in 2007 and voluntarily began cleaning up the trail area and adopting it as his personal mission to expand it. Another $382,776 in federal grant money was awarded last year to enable the group to purchase an 11-acre tract of riverfront property and to complete the phase of trail from Crooked Creek to Vaughn Drive.

• To learn more, visit: www.HeritageTrailConservancy.com.

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