Official: Strong public input on trails

The city has received input from more than 500 people who have completed a survey on the need for public walking and biking trails in Seymour.

That information is being used to compile a trails plan for the city that will highlight possible routes, types of facilities that would best be suited here and obstacles the city will need to overcome.

Parks and recreation director Brent Jameson said public input on the project has been strong.

“The response has been overwhelming, and we are excited to get this plan in place so we can start to raise money and take actions to make these trails a reality,” he said.

The trails plan, being compiled by Christopher Burke Engineering, will be unveiled at a public meeting in March or early April. The plan will be used to help the city obtain grants for the trails and to market the project to the community.

Residents have until Feb. 6 to complete the survey online at surveymonkey.com/s/seymourplan. Paper copies are available at Seymour City Hall, 301 N. Chestnut St.

More than 25 people took part in an open house last Thursday to talk about why the trails are an important investment for the city. Those in attendance also got to help map out areas and neighborhoods that would be good for trails and what kind of trails are needed.

Jackie Riley said she tries to ride her bicycle every day, but she typically takes routes outside of Seymour because of less traffic. She said she believes more people would choose to ride bicycles or walk in town if the trails were available.

Asked to vote on which types of trails she preferred, from painted bike lanes on streets all the way to full multipurpose trails, Riley said she liked those that are built completely separate from the streets.

She said the one, mile-long trail the city has along South Walnut Street leading to Freeman Field Park is a great example of what the city needs.

“It just makes you feel safer,” she said. “And the more paths we have, the safer it will make it.”

Although she would like to see trails all over the city, she also understands it comes at a great expense.

“But I think any improvement is going to help,” she said.

Steve and Vicki Otto also are avid cyclists. The couple can often be seen riding a tandem bicycle around town for leisure or on errands.

Besides recreation, Steve Otto also rides a bike to work daily.

“My worst nightmare is riding on U.S. 50,” he said.

The couple even plan their vacations around where they can ride their bikes.

Steve Otto said he too understands the financial aspect of creating a trails system but said he believes such a project could be good for local tourism.

The city, however, needs to work with other communities, such as Columbus, Nashville, Bloomington and Bedford, to promote a larger network of trails.

“It would be great if they could connect somewhere, because most people who are serious about riding want to go a lot farther than across Seymour,” he said.

They may not use trails for riding bicycles, but friends Dorothy Smith and Joan Hines said they spend a lot of time walking outdoors for exercise.

The two can usually be found walking around the Eastside Industrial Park together.

“We love to walk regardless, but it would be nice and a lot safer if there were more sidewalks in that area,” Smith said.

“And a bench here or there would be nice too, so if you need to rest or have a rock in your shoe,” Hines added.

Not only would walking trails be a nice addition to the city, but it also could help improve the overall health of its citizens, they said.

“It promotes healthier habits, so I think it’s something that would be really good for Seymour,” Hines said.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.