BLAZING TRAILS

Seymour’s bike and pedestrian plan is complete and will be revealed to the public next week.

The city’s parks and recreation department and trails committee have spent the past couple of months working with Christopher B. Burke Engineering to create the plan, which provides details on what type of facilities are needed and where they should be located for best use.

Christopher B. Burke Engineering is the same firm that worked to develop the Columbus People Trail system.

Brent Jameson, parks director, said he won’t have the final plan in his hands until early next week, but he is excited about moving closer to making those ideas a reality.

“I think the routes they have come up with are great,” he said.

He credits the trails committee and the public for making the plan what it is. A total of 740 surveys were completed by local residents, and more than 30 people attended a workshop this year where they were asked to provide input.

“It was a great response,” Jameson said. “People really want this, and it helps the city when prioritizing funds if constituents are saying this is what they want.”

Of all the feedback received, he said only a few people had negative things to say.

The final plan will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday in the council chambers at city hall. At that time, the public will be able to review the proposed network of bicycle and pedestrian routes.

Jameson said the plan includes a vision, goals, specific routes and ways to implement the trails. It will be taken to the city council for approval and adoption in April.

“Having a way to implement these ideas is something we’ve stressed from the start,” Jameson said. “We had to have something with deadlines for when we are going to get things done, a financial component that breaks down how much it’s going to cost and how the trails will be made safe for those who use them.”

He said a plan was needed to apply for state and federal funds that could be used to help pay for construction of the trail system.

“This allows us to work so much smarter, so that we don’t end up with a mile-and-a-half of trail that doesn’t connect to anything,” he said. “This plan shows us how we are going to connect things.”

It’s all the different places that will be connected that are going to get people excited about the trails, he added.

The trail system won’t happen all at once, but Jameson said the city is off to a good start.

Fundraising is underway with the city’s first Greatest Loser competition, which is set to begin May 4 and run through July 31.

For every 1 percent of total body weight lost by a team, the sponsoring business will donate $1,000. The overall fundraising goal for the contest is $30,000.

Jameson said one obstacle the city will have to overcome besides finding money for the project is changing people’s way of thinking.

“We are a vehicle kind of town, so it’s going to take changing our culture and our ways,” he said. “Instead of everyone piling in the car to go to the ice cream shop, we need to be jumping on bikes or walking there.”

But a lot of the reason people don’t do that now is because the facilities just aren’t there yet, he added.

“There are plenty of examples of other cities that did this; and when they build the trails, it changes the culture,” he said. “It’s kind of an ‘if you build it, they will come’ kind of thing.”

If you go

What: Public presentation of Seymour’s Bike and Pedestrian Plan

Where: Council chambers at city hall, 301 N. Chestnut St.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Why: To review the proposed network of bicycle and pedestrian routes to be built in Seymour

Pull Quote

“This allows us to work so much smarter, so that we don’t end up with a mile-and-a-half of trail that doesn’t connect to anything. This plan shows us how we are going to connect things.”

Brent Jameson, parks director, on developing a plan for bicycle and pedestrian trails

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