CUMBERLAND — Local residents got a glimpse Wednesday of how a new walking and biking trail through Cumberland will affect their properties and lifestyles.
The Buck Creek Trail, planned to meander north and south through Cumberland’s residential neighborhoods along Buck Creek, is still in the planning stages. But with three federal grants in hand, town officials have enough money to begin buying right-of-way for the project that could break ground in 2015.
Wednesday, a small group of local residents came to Cumberland Town Hall to review maps and ask questions of the consultants who drew the plans.
While some were eager to see a new feature in their community, others who live along the trail route were reluctant to see the public coming so close to their homes.
“We’d rather not see it; we just don’t want people coming by there,” said Lionel Galerman, who has lived with his wife, Donna, in a home on CR 100N since 1962.
When the couple moved in more than 50 years ago, Galerman explained, there wasn’t another house in sight. Now, neighborhoods and traffic surround them.
But if the trail must be built, the Galermans do have some suggestions. The area does not drain well, they said, and the ditch that would lead up to the trail might be too steep. Lionel Galerman says it would be too difficult for them to maintain and asked whether town officials would regularly mow the area around the trail.
Alan Hamersly of Butler Fairman and Seufert, the engineers that designed the trail, said he is taking all public input into consideration. Hamersly said some of the questions should be addressed. The drainage issue, for example, could be solved with the construction of the trail, so that would benefit both the trail and the homeowners.
The Buck Creek Trail, at 2.3 miles, would connect to Cumberland’s existing east-west Pennsy Trail, which was built in 2010 on an old railroad path.
Jerry Wilson lives near the Pennsy Trail and joins a group of bicyclists every Saturday morning for a ride. The Buck Creek Trail, he said, will be an asset to the community because it will double the length of the town’s trails.
“This is going to include a lot more people because it’s going into the higher-density neighborhoods,” Wilson said.
The two trails will have a different feel. The Pennsy Trail is straight, but the Buck Creek Trail will include curves as it runs through Lions Park to CR 100N (21st Street).
While the Pennsy Trail has a science theme with informational signs about planets spaced proportionately apart, the Buck Creek Trail will have more of a natural look and feel, with limestone signs and decorative cattails stamped into the benches.
“This trail is going to have a rustic feel to it,” said Stefan Leubke of SiteLine Design, who showed plans Wednesday for trail features. “It’s lending itself to a more naturalistic, rustic character.”
The trail will have two overlooks, he said, with benches for people to rest. One will also have an informational sign.
Spurs, or connector trails, will be added, allowing residents of the Glen Oaks, Glen Oaks Village, Cumberland Village and Cumberland Falls neighborhoods to easily get on.
Right-of-way will have to be acquired from roughly 20 property owners. The land ranges from municipal to residential to agricultural and business.
Council President Mark Reynold said with the land purchases and spurs that will be added, the project probably won’t break ground until 2015.
Funding for the project came in three phases. In 2008, Cumberland was awarded a $1 million grant, and in 2010, a $1.1 million grant. Late last year, an additional $1.2 million federal transportation enhancement grant was awarded to the community, putting enough funds on hand to make the trail become a reality.
The federal grants require a 20 percent match, but the town already has that on hand. The Pennsy Trail was entirely funded with federal stimulus dollars. The value of the land donated for that trail – about $500,000 mostly from businesses like Meijer – can count toward a local match for grant monies, Reynold said.
While Reynold was disappointed with the light turnout at the meeting Wednesday, he said there will be more public meetings as the project becomes closer to reality.
“They’re going to start to be more interested when the bulldozers come out,” he said.