Cedar Lake buying up land for future trail
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent October 20, 2012 6:52PM
Updated: November 22, 2012 6:47AM
CEDAR LAKE — Officials have their eye on a mix of parcels available at the next Lake County Board of Commissioners’ tax sale.
The parcels will help fill in the gaps of a planned greenway corridor through public land along Cedar and Founders creeks, according to Ian Nicolini, town manager.
Nicolini said town officials, in conjunction with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, will be looking for some public input on how that trail should take shape during a public forum 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at town hall.
“We have an area that preserves both the natural character and the ecosystem along those waterways. We’d like to give people a better opportunity to learn about and access those areas,” Nicolini said.
Right now the town owns about 50 acres along and near the creeks it has accumulated through donations and tax sale purchases over the last decade. In 2009 the town was able to acquire a 10-acre swatch through the tax sale. However the land the town holds is not yet fully contiguous.
“Basically we’re filling in some of the gaps in the parcels as parcels become available in the commissioners’ sale,” Nicolini said. “We piece them together as they become available. It’s really beautiful land.”
The land – which is difficult to access, wooded, grassy and wet – is not developable in the traditional sense. Plans call for using the land as a greenway trail for walkers and cyclists that focuses on and preserves the natural habitat.
Ultimately plans call for working with Lake County and Crown Point to see how the trail can link with other environmental features and trails in the area.
Nicolini said the town has been working with NIRPC for funding and has received a grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation to help with mapping and coordinating the planning to complete the green infrastructure corridor.
The town also will tap some of the close to $45,000 in park impact fees collected since the town enacted an ordinance requiring the fees to help with the trail development. Nicolini said the town has been able to leverage the grant funds and come up with a sustainable funding mechanism in the future.
Randell Niemeyer, town council president, said the trails will help add to the quality of life for residents and meet a need identified in the parks master plan which called for more trail opportunities.
“We have definite plans in mind for some good walkable trails,” Niemeyer said.