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Path of Giving: Funding for trail project rolling in

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ILLUSTRATION: The People Trail, Nov. 28, 2012.
ILLUSTRATION: The People Trail, Nov. 28, 2012.

ILLUSTRATION: The People Trail, Nov. 28, 2012.
ILLUSTRATION: The People Trail, Nov. 28, 2012.

With one month left in the yearlong fundraising campaign for the People Trail’s latest expansion, the Columbus Park Foundation has nearly reached its goal.

The foundation has collected about $970,000 in cash and pledges toward its goal of raising $1 million. The pledges will be paid during the next two years.

April Williams, resource development director for the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, said that more than $500,000 is cash-in-hand, while the remainder is pledges.

“We fully expect the pledges to come in, but the various projects can’t begin until we have the money in hand,” Williams said.

The donations will be used to leverage an additional $4 million in federal funds for a total of $5 million, which will be used to add or expand more than 30 miles of trail during the next five years.

City Engineer Dave Hayward said that while the original budget for the expansion counts on more than $3 million in federal funds, a federal transportation bill adopted this summer makes being awarded that amount unlikely.

Hayward explained that a category of funding often used for trails no longer exists, so trail projects must compete with traditional road projects for funding.

To compensate, Hayward said each of the 18 identified projects in the People Trail expansion is being examined for cost-cutting opportunities. Estimated costs of each project range from $6,000 to add signage for bicycle routes downtown to $850,000 to create a continuous sidewalk on both sides of 25th Street between Carriage Drive and Talley Road.

One substantial category of funding is a $250,000 matching grant bestowed by the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. A stipulation of that grant is that the donations come from families and individuals, not corporations.

Williams said the organization has raised $100,000 toward that grant but will need to raise $100,000 in 2013 and $50,000 in 2014 to receive the full match. The project has received donations from 108 individuals and entities so far, with roughly $200,000 coming from corporate


Among the corporate sponsors are Columbus Regional Health, which pledged $100,000, and Old National Bank, which has pledged $50,000.

Other major sources of fundraising are Sneakers at Starlight, a black-tie-optional gala held in October that raised $14,000, and Tour de Trails, a run/walk and bike event that kicked off the campaign in the spring.

The People Trail Project also received a $50,000 grant from the newly formed

Centra Foundation.

“This is another great example of how the community supports public-private ventures,” Hayward said.

Of the 18 identified projects, 13 are completed or in progress. Hayward said the current top priority is the completion of the downtown trail connector, a $500,000 project that would link the trail along Haw Creek to the trail along Mill Race Park. The connector would be south of Second Street.

“We would love to get that built in the next year,” Hayward said. “It opens up a lot more community


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