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home : columnists : betsy reason August 21, 2017

Got thoughts on rails to trails?
The Times photo by Betsy ReasonThe Nickel Plate Road No. 426 engine pulls the train through the middle of Eighth Street in downtown Noblesville in 2014.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

The Nickel Plate Road No. 426 engine pulls the train through the middle of Eighth Street in downtown Noblesville in 2014.

By Betsy Reason

I've read so many comments on social media about both sad and angry citizens who don't want to lose the Nickel Plate Rail Line.

That's after Fishers and Noblesville leaders on Feb. 28 made a joint announcement, proposing to convert the historic rail line to a greenway that they plan to call the Nickel Plate Trail. A 14-foot-wide trail paved pedestrian and bicycle trail would connect the two cities from 96th Street in Fishers to Pleasant Street in Noblesville, totaling 9.2 miles at a preliminary cost of $9.3 million.

Local officials are offering "community listening sessions," from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Fishers City Hall Auditorium, 1 Municipal Drive, Fishers, and again on Thursday at Noblesville City Hall, second-floor conference room, 16 S. 10th St., Noblesville.

There is a lot of buzz from people who plan to attend these sessions in support of the train, to oppose tearing out and replacing the tracks with trails.

Being billed as "listening sessions," I asked the City of Noblesville if attendees would be allowed to voice their opinions against the trail project.

Rob Herrington, the City's spokesman, tells me that the City Hall session would begin with a brief presentation about the proposal, with administration and department staff members being available to speak one-on-one with attendees to gather feedback and answer questions. Also, cards would be available for attendees who want to submit questions or feedback in writing for follow-up from the City via email. The public would be welcome to come and go from the "open house," which would be staffed for the full two hours.

The Indiana Transportation Museum (ITM) in Noblesville's Forest Park successfully operated the FairTrain, traveling daily from Fishers to the State Fair, annually transporting 40,000 Fair-goers, for more than 30 years, through 2015. Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, a nonprofit that maintains the 37 miles of rail lines from Indianapolis to Tipton, halted operations of the railroad in 2016 due to safety concerns, saying it would cost up to $5 million to make repairs.

The ITM, which is developing a plan that could save the rail, is encouraging people to sign a petition, at www.itm.org.

From the many comments that I've read on social media, including Facebook and Next Door, it's evident that many in the community want to save the historic rail. One ITM post, alone, has received more than 830 shares, 205 comments and 500 emoji responses.

I wonder how many of these people will show up and share their opinions this week at the "listening sessions."

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Article comment by: Kyle whiteaker

Agenda 21 is what's going on! And if you think the public has a say, you have been lied to. And it's my job as a US citizen to expose the deception. To protect my country from enemies
Foreign and domestic. And in this case it's both. so if I was you, you might want to research agenda 21 and understand that the UN, has bought and paid for the very scum Politicians that has sold you and your Community down the

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Article comment by: Teresa Rusk

We haven't lived here long enough to really have an opinion one way or the other. All I can offer is our experience with such a conversion that was near our home in western suburbs of Chicago. We used the Illinois Prairie Path extensively in the 13 years we lived there In our minds it is priceless. The following is from a list of the top ten trails in Illinois.
The Illinois Prairie Path covers 57.4 miles in Cook, Du Page and Kane counties.
One of the first rail-trails inducted into RTC's Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, and a true icon of America's rail-trail movement, the Illinois Prairie Path (right) has a significant legacy.
In 1963, when the word "rail-trail" hadn't yet entered the American vocabulary, a local naturalist named May Theilgaard Watts wrote to the Chicago Tribune about the out-of-service tracks of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad through the city's western suburbs.
"We are human beings," she wrote. "We are able to walk upright on two feet. We need a footpath. Right now there is a chance for Chicago and its suburbs to have a footpath, a long one.
"If we have courage and foresight... then we can create from this strip a proud resource. Look ahead some years into the future. Imagine yourself going for a walk on an autumn day. Choose some part of the famed Illinois footpath... That is all in the future, the possible future."
Half a century later, Watts' words look prophetic. Thanks to a community of volunteers and the nonprofit Illinois Prairie Path organization, more than 800,000 users now visit the trail each year and it has inspired the creation of other rail-trails in Illinois and across the country.

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Article comment by: Pamela Brandenburg

Look what I came across today! Noblesville Community Guide 2006 cover boasts the trains at the Indiana Transportation Museum and Historic Courthouse as reasons Noblesvile was rated by two authors as being 10th in the nation for the best places to raise a family. On page three there is an article on Mayor Distlear speaking of our rich past reflected in several buildings and districts being on the National Register. Further, page four poudly claims one of those is a steam locomotive in the museum as being listed by the U.S. Department of Interior of Historical Places. Obviously, the governmental officials will attempt to "railroad" the public and do what the city government wants instead of saving the rail system. You could say the rail lines are getting "thrown under the bus". Oh wait...I meant thrown under the trails.

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