Middlebury residents hear plans for new park

The Middlebury Park Board Meeting discussed plans for a new trail.

Posted on April 18, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

A few residents came to the Middlebury park board meeting Wednesday evening to hear about plans to put a trail in the town’s newest park, Old Mill Park, and in Riverbend Park.

The land for Old Mill Park was recently acquired by the Friends of Middlebury Parks from Forrest Wanberg, Jr., president of the Wanberg National Popcorn Company. The park was named Old Mill Park because the oldest structure in Middlebury, grist mill built in 1836, was located on the property. It is still within the present day popcorn plant building.

The new 3.25-acre park sits across Warren Street from Riverbend Park. The proposed trail would connect the two parks.

The Little Elkhart River runs along both parks. The trail would make a loop in Old Mill Park. The trail would be paved, except in the wetland area, where it would be a boardwalk. An informational kiosk, canoe launch, picnic tables and a parking area would also be constructed. In Riverbend Park, the trail would connect to the parking lot, pavilion, river deck and existing trails.

The park department is applying for a $180,000 recreational trails grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The grant would provide 80 percent of the funding for the project, with the town providing 20 percent in donated land, hours and materials, and $7,200 from the park department’s budget.

The grant will be submitted May 1. Parks and Recreation Manager Tom Enright said he should hear by July whether or not the town has been awarded the grant. If so, work on the trail may begin this fall.

The parks department has received a few survey responses with input on the trails and parks. Residents can still pick up a survey at the town hall, 418 N. Main St., or get it from the Middlebury Parks Facebook page. Residents can also contact Enright at 825-3283.

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