Blazing the trail
Noblesville begins Midland Trace project after years of planning
The City of Noblesville unveiled the first portion of its long-awaited Midland Trace Trail project during a public hearing Aug. 7 at Hazel Dell Elementary School, 3025 Westfield Rd. After years of planning, the proposal is the first step to transform the former railroad corridor into a multiuse trail starting from the west edge of the city.
City spokeswoman Cara Culp said the project has been approved for federal funding to cover the majority of land acquisition costs for the portion between Gray and Willowview roads, subject to all conditions of the approval process.
“The city will fund 20 percent of the project cost,” she said.
The proposed overall Midland Trace Trail follows the abandoned Central Indiana Railway corridor from Westfield to White River. Culp said this corridor passes through scenic woodlands, crosses two iron-truss bridges and links neighborhoods and schools throughout Noblesville and Westfield.
“Ultimately, it will also connect to the Monon Trail once the Monon is extended north and Westfield’s portion of the Midland is extended east to U.S. 31. The City of Westfield has already constructed a portion of the Midland Trace Trail within Westfield city limits,” she said.
Briana Hope with American Structurepoint said there are no environmental or parcel areas of “significant impact identified.”
“There is no relocation anticipated as part of this process,” said Hope. “It increases the availability and connectivity of trails in the City of Noblesville.”
City Engineer John Beery said preliminary cost estimates say it will cost $1 million a mile or $2 million for this portion of the trail.
“Once we get rolling, we’ll keep moving to downtown. We’ll do manageable pieces,” Beery said. “We’ll start west and work our way into town. It’s more of a continuous trail if it is built that way.”
The city has been planning to construct the Midland Trace Trail for years.
“Trails are in high demand in town,” said Beery. “They are high impact, heavily used and we see the value in them. It’s an amenity along the rail corridor.”
Beery said the project will fall under the parks department once completed.
“Construction will begin next year, depending on resistance of any properties,” he said.
Noblesville Schools Director of Operations Jeff Bragg said the district has worked with the city for the past two years about the trail and its location.
“We’re really excited about the project,” he said. “The trail has health benefits and homeowners and property values will go up … It gets people off the main roads. Without having major trails it’s hard.”
Bragg said the school’s concern regards safety and proximity of the trail and Hazel Dell Elementary School, 3025 Westfield Rd., which is the only major obstacle along the corridor.
“Bringing it around (instead of through the property) keeps them from being so close to kids and playground equipment,” he said.
Noblesville resident Jim Carpinelli is an avid bicyclist and is enthusiastic about the project.
“I’ve rode thousands of miles on trails and roads. Trails significantly positively impact and have a health impact to communities,” he said. “There is a beauty – a natural beauty – that becomes available to the community. I hope I get to enjoy the trail that will be here soon.”
Carpinelli said that the current proposal does not offer connecting trails, but once the trail is completed in Noblesville and Westfield it will have a huge benefit.
“The (proposed) trail really benefits only the people who live right in the neighborhood – the kids and parents,” he said. “Kids are going to ride their bikes to school. That’s exciting.”
Robert Anderson and Arnold Payne are interested in the plans and land acquisition of the project.
“I had concerns how it was going to run, how they were going to come up with the width of the trail and any (building) restrictions along the trail,” Payne said.
Anderson said he is concerned with privacy. Currently, his property is adjacent to the proposed path.
“We have 30 feet of railroad property and there is hardly anybody out there,” he said. “For 30 years I’ve picked up limbs, mowed and cared for the area.”
Each man also is interested in the price the city is willing to pay for their properties.
“The property is of value,” Payne said. “We want fair market value plus.”
The men said a fellow neighbor recently sold his land for private development at $125,000 an acre and believe the estimated $750,000 price tag for 8.5 acres doesn’t leave much for property owners.
“It’s an eighth of an acre, but there will be an impact on us with people going up and down the trail,” Anderson said.
“I’m not really against the trail, it’s going to happen,” Payne said. “We should be treated right. I’m not looking to get rich; I just don’t want to get screwed out of it.”