Article by Dave Kurtz | KPC News | February 22, 2019
WATERLOO — People hoping to build more trails for DeKalb County gathered Friday in the historic Waterloo Depot.
The group is planning a public meeting about trails next month in Auburn, with the date, time and place to be announced soon.
“We need to know what the public opinion is, what the support is,” said Rick Ring of Auburn, who took part in Friday’s meeting.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has pledged $90 million for trails in his Next Level plan for the state.
“We don’t want to miss out on the funds that are most likely going to be available from the state,” Ring said. Grants for trails also are available from other sources, he added.
“We want to make sure we start the planning, process,” Ring added.
Right now, he said, “DeKalb County seems to be behind in development of trails.”
Friday’s meeting and next month’s public meeting are aimed at generating enthusiasm for local trails, he said.
Ring was a board member of the DeKalb Trails Inc. nonprofit group that became inactive, he said.
“I’m trying to get that reactivated,” he said.
Ring serves as president of the DeKalb County Council, but he said his efforts on trails are not related to his role as a councilman.
“I’m doing this in my interest in bike trails,” he said.
A representative of Indiana Trails and the executive director of Fort Wayne Trails attended Friday’s meeting in Waterloo, which drew 45 people.
“We were really surprised to see the turnout. That was amazing,” said Tena Woenker, Waterloo town manager.
State Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, was among the participants.
“He was encouraging us to apply for the Next Level trails funding,” Woenker said.
In neighboring counties, Ring said, “Steuben County is working their way south with trails. Allen County is working their way north with trails.”
A proposed trail stretching from Quabache State Park near Bluffton to Pokagon State Park in Angola would need DeKalb County’s participation for completion.
The county has trails in Auburn and Waterloo, but Woenker said going beyond that will require more help.
“We can’t do that by ourselves,” Woenker said.