- What is the vision for Connect in Elkhart County?
To increase Elkhart County’s trail network from the current 68 miles, to 130 miles over the next ten years.
- Why trails?
In order to continue growing our economy and doubling down on our quality of life investments, we need to formulate an action-oriented strategy to build infrastructure that works for recreation and everyday needs, better connects communities and fill gaps to building and maintaining the network.
- Who is behind this this initiative?
The Community Foundation of Elkhart County has partnered with a broad coalition of elected officials, city/county staff, enthusiasts, corporate citizens and community members to prioritize this work.
- What steps have been taken to achieve this vision?
In May of 2022, with the help of urban planning firm Yard & Co. and local stakeholders, we completed a county trails master plan. The remainder of this year will be spent in strategic planning, developing the organizational structure needed to work across community lines and see this vision become reality.
- What is the geographic extent of Connect in Elkhart County master plan?
Elkhart County, as it relates to its cities, towns, employment centers, parks, rivers and connections with our neighboring counties.
- What is the timeline?
The first meeting occurred in the summer of 2021 and we foresee trail development extending through the next decade.
- How much does this all cost?
This process is privately funded by the Community Foundation. The development and management of the network will be paid for through a variety of local, regional and national funding opportunities that are dedicated to trail and pathway projects.
- I am not much of a bicyclist or walker, how does this impact me?
It does! An active transportation network helps get people to their destinations without clogging roadways. Walkable and bikeable streets are also safer for all users and have been shown to increase retail sales. A robust network can also improve regional health through improved air quality and fewer hospital visits. Building the network is also a job creator and economic development tool that attracts new property investment and tourism spending.
- What are different ways I can get involved?
There are numerous opportunities to get involved. The first is signing up at connectinelkhartcounty.com. You will also find a number of events such as group walks/rides, festivals, and educational opportunities. As the process develops, additional ways to engage will emerge through helping build advocacy, joining a committee and other volunteer opportunities.
- How do I stay in the loop?
Stay connected by signing up and regularly checking in at connectinelkhartcounty.com.