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HIKING AND BIKING TRAILS PART OF THE ENERGY SOLUTION?

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George DeRoche, President of Greenway Consortium, discusses funding for the Towpath Trail currently being developed.It all started back in 1975. At that time the River Greenway system was a long desired dream of Ernest Williams, editor of the News Sentinel. He envisioned a way to bring back the beauty and use of the three rivers that played a part in the early history of Fort Wayne. Ernie felt the Fort Wayne's three rivers should serve a purpose for recreation. His dream was to create a series of trails along the banks of the rivers for hiking and biking.

The Consortium created by Ernie was mainly for planning and raising money for materials and land acquisition. By 1987 the Consortium had 9 miles of Greenway in use for walking, jogging and hiking. Ernest Williams passed away in 1988 but his dream of expanded walking and hiking trails lives on. That work has continued, and today there are approximately 23 miles of trails, with many more to come (future plans call for a system containing over 100 miles of trails).

As energy prices continue to rise, a useable network of trails crisscrossing Fort Wayne and connecting our city with nearby communities seems more and more logical. Some of the current players in the trails project are Dawn Ritchie, Greenway Manager for Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation; Lynn Reecer, President of Aboite New Trails; George DeRoche President of the Greenway Consortium and Mike Kelly, President of Northwest Trails.

Mr. DeRoche, who likes to refer to greenways as "alternative transportation systems" stopped by The Waynedale News on Thursday, September 15. He talked about a joint Greenway Consortium / Aboite New Trails / city / county venture currently referred to as the Towpath Trail, which will begin at Rockhill Park and travel southwest to a junction with Jefferson Blvd. somewhere near Aboite Center Road and will connect with a series of trails being developed in Aboite Township by the Aboite New Trails group. The Towpath Trail traces the towpath used by the horses and mules of the old Wabash-Erie Canal to pull freight barges down the old canal system.

"It's not a done deal yet," Mr. DeRoche said, "but so far, support of landowners and other stakeholders has been generally positive. Funding for the trail is currently being developed."

Who knows, these new trails may catch on as alternative transportation routes and people may take a day to ride their bikes to work rather than drive. Maybe in addition to 'Dress Down Friday' there will be a 'Bicycle Wednesday,' whereby everyone will find alternative ways to work on Wednesday. It wouldn't solve the energy crisis, but it would be a nice way to get to work.

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