Zionsville Times Sentinel

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March 22, 2012

Whitestown interested in extending rail trail

Whitestown officials are “very interested” in having a section of the Farm Heritage Trail built through the town’s traditional center.

“There is a lot of support for the project in and around Whitestown,” Dawn Kroh, president of the landscape design firm Green 3, told the Boone County Commissioners Monday, March 19. But, “there are some folks who are not believers at this point.”

The commissioners gave their approval for Kroh and trail developers to ask the Indiana Department of Transportation to “rescope” the transportation enhancement award that is funding the trail from Lebanon to Zionsville. If INDOT agrees, money for the Lebanon to Zionsville segment would be concentrated on the Whitestown section, Kroh said.

Eighty percent of the funds are from federal grants; 20 percent would be a local match, Kroh said. For the Whitestown segment, the local match would be $230,000. The value of land contributed or purchased for the trail can be used to meet that target, Kroh said.

While the intent is to link the rail corridor from Lebanon to Zionsville, some people who have bought former railroad right-of-way have said they don’t want a public trail cutting across their land.

A map of the Whitestown trail Kroh showed the commissioners included red “dead-ends” at either end, indicating landowners who have said they do not want to sell land for the trail.

Red doesn’t necessarily mean a permanent stop, though.

“It is very, very rare that, eventually, people who are opposed don’t change their minds,” Kroh said. “What people like to see is a constructed segment in their area.” Once the skeptics see “in general, it is their neighbors who are using” the trail,” opposition fades.

Commissioner Marc Applegate said property along a rail trail rises in value.

“When they built the Monon (Trail, in Marion and Hamilton counties) there was a lot of opposition,” Applegate said. Now, easy access to the Monon Trail is considered a selling point.

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