Once a month, representatives from Goshen Park and Recreation, Middlebury, Shipshewana, Elkhart County Parks and the Friends of the Pumpkinvine meet to discuss issues related to the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. The group is called the Pumpkinvine Advisory Committee (PAC), and its purpose is to foster cooperation and consistent policies among the four government agencies that manage the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. With so much cynicism around about government, it's refreshing to participate in meetings where government officials listen, make good decisions, and in general are responsible public servants.
The group makes decisions by
consensus and most of those decisions don't require approval from the boards or councils the PAC members work for. An example of a PAC decision is the agreement to color code the mile markers -- Goshen, blue; Elkhart County Parks, brown; Middlebury, green; and Shipshewana, black -- so that users would know who is managing the section they are in.
If PAC creates a policy that would have legal implications, the agency representatives seek approval from their boards or councils. In other
words, PAC does not function at this point as an official inter-governmental agency that
makes policy on it's own. Although members have discussed drawing up an
inter-governmental agreement, they don't think its necessary at this
The issues the PAC members discuss in a typical
meeting include updates on trail construction projects (if any),
problems encountered on the trail, like lines painted on the trail
surface or rough pavement that needs fixing. A major topic concerns
events that various groups are planning for the trail. Last year PAC
agreed on an application process for groups using the trail to raise
money in an effort to be prepared for the groups and avoid conflicts if
two groups wanted events on the same day. They want groups to have a
good experience, and knowing ahead of time where the group plans to walk
or run allows the managing agencies for those sections to be sure that
the trail is cleaned off and any needed repairs are done.
PAC initiative was the policy on what powered vehicles people with
disabilities could use on the trail. The group hammered out the wording
and then each managing agency had its board or council approve the
measure. The Friends of the Pumpkinvine agreed to pay for the flags that
would be attached to the vehicles to identify them as approved trail
The Friends of the Pumpkinvine also assist
the group by providing the trail map, managing the Pumpkinvine website
(www.punpkinvine.org), and answering emails from people who want
information about the Pumpkinvine. One person asked what sections of the
Pumpkinvine were shaded because they had a skin condition and couldn't
be in the sun very long. Others ask where they can park, what's the
longest paved section or if there are bikes to rent.