Area grants will help fund makeover for Pennsy Trail leg

GREENFIELD — Plans are underway to give a portion of the Pennsy Trail a makeover.

A recently awarded grant has local officials working to finalize plans for historical panels and a mural to spruce up a leg of the 5.6-mile trail running through Greenfield.

Two separate grants — one for $2,000 and the other for $6,000 — from the Hancock County Community Foundation and White Family Foundation endowment are helping to make the efforts a reality.

The Greenfield Parks Department, Greenfield Main Street, Hancock County Arts Council, Greenfield Sister Cities and the Pennsy Trail Art Group are collaborating to plan and design a mural on the Inman’s Towing building and to place decorative bicentennial historical panels along the trail.

The community foundation gave the funds as part of its Celebrating Communities initiative, a two-year effort at making the county a better place to live and work.

Recipients have one year to put the money to use.

Shelley Swift, program manager of Greenfield Main Street, said her organization and other nonprofits thought the Inman’s Towing Service building, 120 S. Noble St., could use a little TLC.

The building is highly visible from the trail, she said, and is painted plain white.

Adding a mural to it would make it more attractive, Swift said.

“We want to represent Greenfield well,” she said. “The Pennsy Trail is really popular, not just for Greenfield residents.”

Organizers don’t yet have a plan set in stone, Swift said, but they plan to work with local artists to create a design the entire community can enjoy.

“No matter what happens, it’s going to be beautiful in the end,” she said. “It’s going to be a great stop along the trail.”

The trail once was part of the old Penn Central rail line, on which many historical events have taken place, officials say.

For years residents have told stories of significant historical happenings, including presidential tours and the Liberty Bell’s trip through Greenfield, along the rail line.

Local stakeholders want future residents to be aware of these historical events. Installing decorative, historical panels is one way to keep that history alive, said Ellen Kuker, Greenfield Parks and Recreation superintendent.

“We felt like we wanted to be sure and document those happenings before that history got lost,” she said.

The grant will pay for only one horizontal panel. The hope is to eventually install three or four, so organizers will need to find other sources of funding, Kuker said.

The panels likely will be placed between Pennsylvania and Riley streets near where the old train depot used to stand, she said.

The project still is in its infancy, and the groups will need to work with local historians to verify details of the events.

The first panel likely won’t go up until spring 2016.

Still, organizers hope residents are excited about the idea.

“There’s a lot of history here,” Kuker said. “I think it will appeal to all walks of life.”

Joanie Fitzwater, city planner, said city officials are excited about the plans to spruce up the trail because art is a huge economic development driver in a community. Additionally, she hopes they encourage more residents to take advantage of the trail.

“It makes getting out on our trails and improving our fitness more enjoyable,” she said. “It’s a wonderful plan.”

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.