GREENFIELD — On a warm day in March, the Pennsy Trail draws cyclists, walkers with strollers and runners to its 9.8-mile stretch south of U.S. 40.
Local nonprofit leaders and city officials said they hope even more people will be drawn to the walking trail laid over the old Pennsylvania railway with the addition of three new projects — an art tile wall, a building mural and a freestanding history panel — planned for points along the trail’s expanse.
The efforts align with an overall plan to enhance and expand Greenfield’s trail system as outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan, a blueprint for the city’s future growth and development, approved late last year.
Area residents will be invited to help shape two of the projects, lending their creativity to the tile wall and mural, while Split Rock Studio will take the lead to create a horizontal panel detailing local history.
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The art tile wall, planned for a small space between American Legion Place and Meek Street, is a collaboration among the United Way of Central Indiana, Fiano Landscapes and the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department.The wall is designed to reflect the architecture and colors of historical downtown buildings, especially the Indiana limestone of the Hancock County Courthouse, said Paula Jarrett, United Way of Central Indiana area director. It is designed to have a faux stone veneer capped with limestone.The wall will be 8.5 feet high and 10 feet wide, with two shorter adjoining walls on each side, and hold hundreds of 6-by-6 inch square tiles, which community members may design for $100 apiece, Jarrett said.
Organizers plan for sales of tiles, as well as large pavers at the foot of the wall, to fund the entire $36,000 project, which they hope to complete by next year. Tile sales will begin in May, Jarrett said.
The wall represents the United Way motto, “Live United,” Jarrett said, because the hundreds of tiles will show many aspects of the community that came together to create it.
A series of design parties will help people come up with ideas to decorate tiles; participants can draw, paint, use photos and more to personalize their square, Jarrett said.
The tiles are scratch- and fade-proof as well as easy to clean, making them resistant to vandalism, Jarrett said.
Fundraising efforts to sell the 30-inch-by-8-inch pavers will target businesses which, for $1,000 each, can add their logo.
Painting the Pennsy
Local artists soon will be called upon to paint a mural on the side of the Inman’s Towing building as part of a grant-funded project to spruce up an eyesore along the trail.Designing the mural for the building, located between Riley Avenue and Center Street, is a collaborative effort among the parks department, Greenfield Main Street, Hancock County Arts Council, Greenfield Sister Cities and the Pennsy Trail Art Group.Greenfield Main Street officials hope to draft local arts students and artists of all ages to paint the design, which was created by Connie Schmidt of the Hancock County Arts and Cultural Council.
The mural is planned to combine elements of Japanese and American culture, to bring recognition to the Sister Cities program that pairs Greenfield and Kakuda, Japan, said Shelley Swift, Greenfield Main Street program manager.
Members of the project already have weeded around the Inman building and painted primer on the center building, where the mural is planned, Swift said.
The parks department is also spearheading an effort to install an 8-foot-by-3-foot horizontal panel detailing important events throughout Hancock County’s history on the trail.The panel, to be placed between Pennsylvania and Riley streets near where the old train depot used to stand, will feature pictures and text about four historical events that took place on the railroad that is now the Pennsy Trail, said Ellen Kuker, Greenfield Parks and Recreation superintendent.The panel highlights the passing of the funeral train carrying the body of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865; the arrival of the train taking the Liberty Bell from the St. Louis World Fair back to Philadelphia in 1904; the Harry Truman Whistle Stop train campaign, which stopped in Greenfield in 1948; and the visit from the James Whitcomb Riley deluxe coach streamlined passenger train in 1973.