On April 20th Governor Holcomb announced that the MYPath Trail System has been awarded a Next Level Trails Grant of nearly $640,000 to complete a key section of the trail. MYPath was one of 38 selected out of 61 applications. Integral to the Town of Spencer and Owen County’s economic development and quality of place initiatives, the MYPath Trail system connects residents and visitors to the county’s natural landscapes, which consist of a network of streams, wetlands, floodplains, and forests. With this grant, MYPath will upgrade the surface of the
Riverfront Trail, making it bicycle and wheelchair accessible. A nod to Owen County’s history, the project will reclaim the abandoned Hancock School Road bridge to extend the trail over Elliston Creek. From there, the trail will connect with a newly established trailhead and pavilion at the DNR White River Access Site. The community gains ADA-access to scenic White River vistas, a reforestation project, a wetlands area, the New Meadow prairie reclamation project, and a noted eBird Hotspot. Efforts are currently in place to extend the trail to McCormick’s Creek State Park, McCormick’s Creek Elementary School, and eventually to the Ellettsville Heritage Trail System, another Next Level Trails recipient. “We are excited for the upgraded trail to connect to the shared pathway that guides visitors and residents through historic neighborhoods, past interesting shops, enticing restaurants, and many other nearby attractions,” says Marce King, Executive Director of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Corporation. As part of Gov. Holcomb’s broader Next Level Connections initiative, funded through the Indiana Toll Road, the Next Level Trails Grant program is designed to incentivize collaborative efforts to accelerate trail connections.
The grant provides $639,483 in state funding and is matched by $301,317 in local contributions. Matching funds include the value of the property, volunteer work, the value of the abandoned bridge, and monetary contributions from the Owen County Community Foundation, Duke Energy Foundation, and Smithville Charitable Foundation. Originally conceived in 2016, the vision is to connect the Owen County Family YMCA to McCormick’s Creek State Park. In addition to the Riverfront Trail, a network of MYPath trails is currently visible and used on sidewalks throughout the Town of Spencer.