Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Making the Connection

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Making the Connection

Article excerpt

Trails and paths can link park and recreation sites, promoting destinations and diversions.

As a recreational device, trails can provide diversion and fitness in the form ofbird watching, bicycling, skating, walking, running and cross-country skiing, offer a refuge in a world marked by traffic and noise, and, lastly, present a pleasant alternative for travel between two points on a map.

It's nice, too, when they happen to have interesting or useful stops along the way. Good trails, according to Gregg Calpino, a principal and land planner with JJR in Chicago, are supported by amenities to serve those traveling them. "If you have a greenway," he says, "it's nice to ride your bike for 20 miles and have a place to stop for two hours."

While expressing the conviction that trails should provide sanctuary for wildlife inhabiting increasingly urbanized areas, Indiana Trails Fund (ITF) President Richard Vonnegut, acknowledges the value of other benefits that trails can offer a community. "Trails serve roles both of transportation and recreation," he says. "In addition, patrons can use trails as geographic and exercise extensions of parks for creating mental moods, physical conditioning and social exchange."

In the Midwest, one park and recreation department is working on an ambitious park project that will expand recreational opportunities, as well as serve as a major venue along a trail route that links recreational, social and civic points of interest.

Bypass to a Wonderland

Planned to be the "jewel" of the Carmel-Clay, Ind., park system, the 160-acre Central Park is being developed along a stretch of greenway once occupied by train track that carried the former Monon Railroad. (For more information on converted railroad corridors, see Trailblazers on page 88.)

Comprised of both active and passive recreation zones, the park will feature a range of paths and trails that connect a lagoon, wetlands and other natural areas, an aquatic center, a number of pavilions, a boathouse and a community center.

Aside from the wealth of amenities planned for the park, a key feature is the park's site, which encompasses a stretch of the Monon Trail. "The park was designed to be a place along this 15-mile-long trail where you could get off and spend a few hours using the park's trail system, facilities and concessions," explains Calpino.

"It's meant to be an extension of the Monon," he notes, "or a bypass where you can get off the main trail into this wonderland of a park setting."

Carmel clay Director of Parks and Recreation Mark Westermeier says, "Our concept was that the park would be like an oasis along the trail, widening to a plaza to provide a gathering place for people."

"Foremost in this concept," he continues, "is that trail use not be interrupted for users who do not want to stop at the park, keeping the thoroughfare open but allowing users the opportunity to stop and rest, utilize the park facilities or visit with neighbors and friends."

The Common Thread

The regional trail will serve to connect Central Park with Carmel's city center. The beauty in this arrangement, observes Calpino, will be particularly evident on days when special events occur in multiple locations, such as on the Fourth of July. Fireworks take place at the park, while concerts play downtown. Revelers can experience both by taking the trail instead of hopping in their cars to sit in traffic.

"Within the city, the trail provides a vital link between different elementsthe park is definitely a destination stop, however just a mile north of the park, a performing arts center is being considered, and a mile further north is an area that has been redeveloped as an artistic area," explains Westermeier.

"Each of these attractions provides recreation for our citizens but also provides an economic component that is positive for the growth of the community," he continues. …

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