Local trails, parks bring $1.5 million to region

Henry County is one of six counties working to make the overall region grow. The partnership is already paying off and could pave the way for more project funding.

Henry County is part of the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership, along with Blackford, Delaware, Jay, Madison and Randolph counties.

New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President and CEO Corey Murphy explained the counties are all connected in some way by the Cardinal Greenway.

In the new “Advance East Central Indiana (ECI)” plan, the regional partners are focused on developing projects in each county that will grow tourism, community and historical assets in the cities and towns connected to the Cardinal Greenway.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation gave the regional partners $150,000 in 2015 to create the Advance ECI plan.

Now, the state agency has awarded the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership $1.5 million to bolster some of the projects outlined in the plan.

Murphy said Henry County may be able to use some of that money to help with the 1400 Plaza project in New Castle, the expansion of broadband internet infrastructure in rural parts of the county, the development and construction of the Henry County Expo Building in Memorial Park and renovations to the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown.

Murphy also sits on the five-member Regional Development Authority responsible for approving requests for the money.

He said the details for the request process will be finalized by the end of the year.

More funding opportunities
According to the Advance ECI plan, Henry County has another 23.2 miles of trail planned. The anticipated cost is $16.9 million.

The Advance ECI plan does not directly help make any improvements to the growing trail system in Henry County.

Murphy said that is okay.

Having a fully-developed plan like this positions the county to apply for and possibly win part of the $90 million available through Indiana’s Next Level Connections program. It also helps that New Castle has a bike/pedestrian plan that it is already implementing.

“Having plans helps confirm readiness,” Murphy said.

Murphy said Henry County has these funding opportunities mostly due to the efforts of Healthy Communities of Henry County Trail Coordinator Jeff Ray.

Ray’s plan is to ultimately connect The Wilbur Wright Trail to the Cardinal Greenway in Losantville.

Plans also include developing the Honeybee Electric Path to connect the Raintree Heights Neighborhood and Memorial Park to the Wilbur Wright Trail, paving the new Honey Creek Trail that starts in Middletown and paving the existing portions of the National Heritage Road Trail between Knightstown and Lewisville.

– Story by Travis Weik of The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at www.thecouriertimes.com.

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