BEDFORD, Ind. (Oct. 9, 2023) – Radius Indiana and the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands launched a collaborative effort for community development along the new Monon South Trail. This partnership allows Eppley to assist in the planning and execution of public input meetings that will provide each community with information needed to develop park master plans.
Eppley works within Indiana University’s system of research centers to enhance the quality and accessibility of natural, cultural, and recreational experiences for all by advancing and applying current best practices in the management of parks and public lands.
Eppley Institute Director Steve Wolter shares that parks, recreation, and the outdoors are critical factors in how a community expresses itself, how it creates a sense of place, and how it defines its quality of life. “We know from our experience at Indiana University that the vibrancy and attractiveness of every town and city includes easy access to natural areas, active spaces, trails, and holding community events,” said Wolter. “It’s the one planning process that the government undertakes voluntarily, that all residents can participate in, that addresses visitor needs and business support of visitors, considers the local environment, and plans for the gatherings of the entire community. Eppley has developed dozens of plans across the nation but none so important as the ones in these south-central communities along the Monon South Trail.”
With Eppley’s assistance, five participating communities (Borden, Mitchell, New Pekin, Orleans, and Salem) will submit park plans to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for approval. This process serves as a qualification to apply for, and receive, grant funds from Indiana DNR for park projects included in the plans.
“The town of New Pekin is so thankful to Radius for coordinating the partnership with the Eppley Institute,” said Jaden Stone, New Pekin Town Manager. “A park master plan opens the door to many opportunities for the future of our town and its community park by identifying areas of need while allowing residents to be involved in the process.”
This partnership with Eppley is just one element of the comprehensive development approach Radius has applied to the Monon South Trail. Park improvements are expected to not only lead to an enhanced quality of life for southern Indiana residents, but may also allow the communities to invest in their own Monon South trailhead facilities, providing additional opportunities to the towns and cities, their residents, and all who visit.
“This partnership represents the opportunity our communities have to make the most out of this new recreational asset,” said Jeff Quyle, president and CEO of Radius Indiana. “The Monon South Trail is expected to further enhance strong connections between our southern Indiana communities, and improved parks are a great way to showcase all they have to offer.”
Additional components of Radius’s comprehensive development include freshly regraded surfaces at all road crossings along the corridor’s route to improve driving conditions, and a demonstration on how to use crowdfunding to build trailhead amenities in communities. Further development programs will be announced as they are established in the coming months.
ABOUT RADIUS INDIANA: Radius Indiana is a regional economic development partnership representing eight counties in Southern Indiana: Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange, and Washington. Formed in 2009, Radius Indiana also serves as a point of contact in Indiana for Naval Support Activity Crane and leads regional collaboration by leveraging the diverse assets of Southwest Central Indiana to drive attraction, retention, and expansion of business, thereby increasing employment and investment opportunities and quality of life within the region.