News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 9, 2010

Historic Collett Park Pathway on schedule for end of the year

Construction expected to start in August

TERRE HAUTE — Completion of the Historic Collett Park Pathway is on schedule for the end of this year, with design of a concrete path around a 17-acre lake under way, and is expected to be bid out for construction by the end of July, Terre Haute officials said Wednesday.

Construction is expected to start in August and must be completed by the end of this year as required by a state grant, said Marcus Mauer, staff engineer for the City of Terre Haute. Mauer, along with City Forester Bill Kincius, a registered landscape architect, are currently designing the trail.

The city in 2008 received a $900,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for the Historic Collett Park Pathway, which includes building 1.6 miles of trail to connect Indiana State University, Union Hospital Health Group, Collett Park, Oubache Elementary School and a nearby lake, said Pat Martin, chief planner for the City of Terre Haute.

“The priority is building the trail, but if we have enough [funds] left over, we will bid an alternate for a parking lot and doing some native seed mix out here. Hopefully the bids will come in low enough that we can do some of that additional work around the lake,” Mauer said.

Mauer said because of fluctuating water levels, the trail will likely be on higher ground along the lake. “We want it to be usable more times out of the year than not,” he said.

“One problem with the site is it tends to go underwater on occasion,” Mauer said, adding that the city is planning, in a separate project once state permitting is approved, to punch through an abandoned levee on the opposite side of Third Street (U.S. 41).

“It was an old abandoned levee that was never cut, but was supposed to be cut back in 1964. All this drainage goes through a pipe in a new levee, but the old levee just allows water to pond. We are shooting to cut through that abandoned levee this year once we get DNR approval,” Mauer added.

Martin said the DNR grant specified the trail be a minimum of 10 feet wide and be made of concrete, as the state sought a 50-year life for the project. The plan is to have the lake site be a no-mow park, Martin said.

“The lake is spring-fed and, in terms of geology, is tied in with the Wabash River, so the water level roughly corresponds to the level of the Wabash River,” Martin said.

DNR official will conduct a fish population test on or near June 21 after dark using a mild electric shock to stun fish and allow DNR personnel to collect samples of species and size, Martin said. In addition, the DNR will verify the water quality of the lake.

“We have not examined the fish population yet. We don’t know the diversity and size of the species,” Martin said.

The lake is currently closed and it is illegal to fish or walk on the property until the project is completed and opened as a public park and public fishing site, Martin said.

“This will become the fishing capital of the Terre Haute park system,” Martin said. “This will be a premiere designation for people who enjoy fishing, as well as bike, ride or walk or any activity involving the trail.”

The first phase of the Historic Collett Park Pathway developed a trail from Indiana State University through Union Hospital Health Group, to Collett Park and Oubache Elementary School, Martin said. In addition, an extension was made into Memorial Park near a recreational area near Third Street and Eighth Avenue and established a trailhead near Third Street and 7th Avenue with a parking lot, Martin said.

The city has about $282,000 remaining to complete the trail along the 17-acre lake, Martin said.

The city’s park master plan calls for a 60-vehicle parking lot with two entrances; however, one entrance will be done initially, Martin said.

“Further development of the park will occur next year and succeeding years,” Martin said.

The 23-acre site, containing the 17-acre lake, located about a quarter mile west of Collett Park and directly across from Oubache Elementary School near Third Street and Maple Avenue, does not yet have an official name, said Eddie Bird, superintendent of the Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Department.

“We call it 500 Maple Avenue or Lakeview after the former nursing home, plus other names. We have four or five names but have not dedicated a name yet. The park board also thought about letting schoolchildren have a contest to name it, but nothing has been decided on that,” Bird said.

The city acquired the site at 500 Maple Avenue in two separate purchases, between 2007 and 2009, at a total cost of $49,850. The Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Department will own, manage and maintain the new, yet-unnamed park, part of the Historic Collett Park Pathway.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com

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