McCORDSVILLE — After years of planning and patience, the Town of McCordsville is one step closer to achieving that development buzzword: walkability.
Officials have spent more than three years crafting and implementing plans for a fully connected, multiuse trail system that residents can use for exercise and transportation. The first phase of the project is now complete, and officials are planning a communitywide 5K to celebrate and promote trail use.
“There are a lot of young families here,” town council member Larry Longman said. “They are the ones generally outdoors walking, riding bikes or pushing the stroller. And they don’t want to be doing that on the side of the road.”
The multipurpose trails system has been part of McCordsville’s master plan for years, town manager Tonya Galbraith said, and developers are required to include a trail system within their site plans.
A few years ago, town officials began implementing a plan to fill the gaps between developments in order to connect the town and encourage walkers to enjoy the area, she said.
In 2011, officials used a survey to seek public input about further developing a multiuse path system that would encompass the entire town. The surveys gauged the general demographic of McCordsville and residents’ recreational interests.
Of those who responded, about 94 percent said they enjoyed walking, hiking or jogging, and 68.5 percent enjoyed riding bicycles.
Officials used those answers to update their parks and recreation master plan, which complemented the town’s overall master plan. From there, they created a multiuse paths connectivity plan, began applying for grants and seeking donations for the project.
Since then, the town has invested roughly $150,000, officials estimated — most acquired from matching grants and donations — to lay pavement that links commercial and residential areas.
Now, the town’s trails system stretches more than two miles, Galbraith said, and connects to similar pathways in Hamilton County, allowing residents to cross easily and safely into nearby communities, she said.
Safety was a key component in the designs for the paths, said Melissa Davidson, a member of McCordsville’s park board. Signs are in place that alert walkers and bikers to high-traffic areas, and the town has plans to improve crosswalks between subdivisions.
To celebrate the completion of the first phase of the project, the town is hosting its inaugural Path to Fitness 5K. The event takes place in late August, but registration is open now.
This noncompetitive race will begin at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 29 at McCordsville Town Hall, and participants will walk, run or jog on the newly connected trail system.
Registration is $20 for athletes age 12 and older, and all proceeds will be given to the Building A Brighter McCordsville fund and will be used to continue the town’s recreational endeavors.
A deadline to register has been set for Aug. 27. More information about registration and sponsorship opportunities can be found on the McCordsville Path to Fitness 5K Facebook page.
Officials stressed there is more to come: As the town grows, the trail system will grow, too. Their goal is to have paths to encompass the whole town, stretching from neighborhood to neighborhood and to local schools.
“One of the things I’d like to see is a connection between the elementary schools and subdivisions, so that kids could walk to school,” said Max Meise, a town council member who serves as a liaison to the park board. “Eventually, we’d like to have a trail on at least one side of every major thoroughfare in McCordsville.”