Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Friends of the Pumpkinvine Trail Talk

Every time I prepare an issue of the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Trail Talk I get nervous that I won't have enough material to fill the issue. Gradually, I start filling pages and before i know it, I have more material than I know what to do with. And it isn't like I'm just using filler.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Request for fall photos

In the next few weeks, the leaves along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail will start to turn yellow and red, a rich display of fall colors, and we (the Friends of the Pumpkinvine) would like post some of your best photos of the fall colors on our website, on Facebook and on our blog. This is not a contest, just an opportunity for you to share some of color of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail in the fall. You may post them here yourself or if you'd like to have them posted on our website and blog, send them to friends@pumpkinvine.org.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Advantages of a limestone trail surface

One of the questions people ask me about the Pumpkinvine  is, when will the limestone section of the trail between CR 28 and SR 4  be paved? 

The answer is that this section of the Pumpkinvine is owned by the City of Goshen, and what I've heard from Sheri Howland, director of Goshen Parks is  that they will pave it when money becomes available. The priority projects for Friends of the Pumpkinvine right now  is to close the gap in the Pumpkinvine between CR 33 and CR 20 and the gap between 850W and downtown Shipshewana. As a result, we are not lobbying for or offering to help pay for the paving of State Road 4 to County Road 28 until we close those gaps in the trail.

That being said, it is useful to consider the advantages and disadvantages of that 1.75 mile limestone section, since it is likely to be with us for some years to come.

Advantages of limestone:
  1. Runners and walkers like the limestone because it is more forgiving than asphalt. The constant pounding of a runner's knee
  2. It looks more natural than asphalt.
  3. The wheels of a bicycle make noise on limestone so that walkers are likely to hear an approaching cyclist from behind.
  4. It does not buckle from tree roots.
  5. It repairs easily.
There are, of course, disadvantages to limestone.
  1. It does not allow for rollerblades thereby eliminating one user group.
  2. It is more difficult for people in wheelchairs.
  3. It can get quite rutted in the spring from moisture.
  4. It can wash out in spots from heavy rain, causing bumps.
  5. The limestone can coat a bike making it necessary to clean the bike more often.
  6. It takes more energy to ride than asphalt, and that is a problem for children and less experienced riders.

The advantages of limestone





People frequently ask me when the limestone section of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail between State Road 4 and County Road 28 will be paved. That decision is in the hands of the Goshen Park and Recreation Department, not the Friends of the Pumpkinvine. From conversations I’ve had with Sheri Howland, the park director, I know that she’s open to the idea, but at the moment, there isn’t money in the park department’s budget to redo the surface in asphalt, which could cost from $150,000 to $200,000. Since all departments of city government are under severe financial strain, it is unlikely that they will pave that section in the near future.

Likewise, the Friends of the Pumpkinvine have other priorities. Our time and money are going toward closing the gap in the Pumpkinvine between CR 33 and CR 35. (Donations welcome at www.pumpinvine.org.)

So while I favor paving this 1.75-mile limestone section of trail to make it consistent with the rest of the Pumpkinvine and would even consider having the Friends of the Pumpkinvine help pay for it after we close the gaps in the trail, I think in the meantime it is worth mentioning some of the advantages of limestone.

1.      Limestone does not crack from the freeze-thaw cycle of winter, buckle from invasive tree roots or have edges that crack from lack of support – all shortcomings of asphalt. We already see bumps in asphalt sections of the Pumpkinvine between mile markers 4.5 and 5 that are only six years old and severe cracking east of County Road 127, but the limestone section is as smooth as it was when it was laid in 1999, 16 years ago.

2.      Most people would say that limestone is a more natural surface than asphalt, and as a result it makes the trail look less like a road. As a result, it enhances our ability to enjoy the vegetation, small animals, birds and trees along the trail, the stimulation of our senses that we experience in nature. 

3.      Limestone is more forgiving surface than asphalt for the joints of walkers and runners. Most joggers and walkers prefer limestone to asphalt because it is easier on the knees and feet, which means they have fewer injuries and can potential run more each year and run more years.

4.      Both bikers and walkers make much more noise on limestone than they do on asphalt, so that others ahead on the trail can hear them coming. Since many bikers don’t bother to sound a bell to alert walkers that they are about to be passed, that noise functions as a natural “bell,” alerting walkers to an approach bike. Thus, with limestone-created noise, there is less chance for the bikers to hit the walkers who don’t move or surprise the walkers who do move in the wrong direction and cause a collision. 

Of course, limestone has disadvantages. It does not accommodate rollerbladers, is a more difficult surface for pushing or propelling wheel chairs and can get very rutted in the spring from the melting snow. In dry weather, it can coat a bike with fine dust and in wet weather the coating is worse. Still, it works very well most of the time.

On an historical note, it is worth remembering that the Goshen Park and Recreation Department built this section of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail with limestone because they did not have enough money to do it in asphalt. Along with the Friends of the Pumpkinvine, they believed that the best way to counter the criticism of trail opponents who were claiming the trail would be a magnet for crime was to build a demonstration section to show what the an actual trail would look like and the type of people who would use it. Building that demonstration section of trail was more important than waiting for the funds to build it with an asphalt surface.

I think they made the right decision. The attitude of the community changed after people saw what the trail could be, making extending it to Middlebury and Shipshewana possible. Without the limestone section to demonstrate an actual trail, there wouldn’t be asphalt sections today.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bad roads

On a recent 65 mile bike ride through southern Elkhart County and northern Kosciusko County, I was reminded again to the deplorable condition of our country roads. I'm not the first to say it, but I think it's true:  their condition is a disgrace. As I rode, I mentally graded the roads and calculate how much of the ride was on each surface:
  • Excellent -- Smooth surface with few if any patches or cracks -- 10%
  • Good -- Smooth surface with a few patches and cracks -- 20%
  • Poor -- Rough surface from patches, cracks, crumbling edge -- 40% 
  • Terrible -- Very rough surface from patches, cracks, general disrepair -- 30 %
My calculations are very unscientific, but I feel certain that over half the roads I rode on were poor or terrible. 

At the same time, I wonder to what degree the poor county roads encourages cyclists to ride the trails where they do not encounter the constant bumps, patches, cracked pavement and the dreaded chip-sealed surfaces so common on our county roads. I know that when I planned my birthday ride last year, I decided to do the entire ride on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail and MapleHeart just so that I could avoid the rough roads. My birthday ride is supposed to be a celebration and a thing to enjoy, so why spoil it by spending the day of a 70-mile ride dodging patches and cracks. Why not instead enjoy the smoother ride of these trails, while not without occasional bumps, is infinitely smoother than most county roads.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sept. 2 is Air Quality Action Day

The Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management has declared Sept. 2, 2015 an Air Quality Action Day for St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties. Meteorologists forecast that weather conditions will be conducive to high levels of ozone pollution. Actions you can take to help lower emissions that contribute to the formation of ozone include: Bike, walk, carpool or take the bus; perform regular vehicle maintenance; conserve fuel by combining trips; refuel your car in the evening; reduce engine idling time.

if you have questions or would like more information actions you can take to clean the air, contact MACOG at: 574-287-1829 or 574-674-8894.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Regional Active Transportation Connectivity Plan

The Summer 2015 MACOG newsletter, the "MACOGazetter" includes an article on the Regional Active Transportation Connectivity Plan.  This plan came out of a desire to give greater visibility to bicycle and pedestrian needs this year than would be possible in the major planning process called "Michiana on the Move: 2040 Transportation Plan."

What is significant about this plan is that it gives major emphasis to cycling and walking as valid modes of transportation, and it asks for input from the community for the plan.

"This plan will build upon the work each local public agency has done to develop a comprehensive active transportation (bicycle and pedestrian network. Much like the 2040 Transportation Plan, this plan will look at long-term goals and projects."

"This plan will analyze existing active transportation networks in order to assess the quality of the facilities and identify gaps. Many parts of the region have access to quality active transportation options, while other areas are missing this key transportation option. Through outreach and working with stakeholders, the plan will create a vision for active transportation in the region and suggest implementatiion strategies for communities.

If you are interested in being involved in the planning process, please send an email to macogdir@macog.com with the subject line Active Transportation Connectivity Plan."

The article goes on to explain what active transportation is. Note how they link healthy people with healthy places:

"Active transportation is the means of getting around that is powered by human energy, primarily walking and bicycling. Active transportation offer the promise of improving the health of our people and places we live.
  • Healthy People:  America faces n obesity crisis, with more than two-thirds of American adults either overweight or obese. By making walking and biking safe and convenient, we can make it much easier for people to build routine physical activities into their daily lives.
  • Healthy Environment: Enabling people to walk or bike for some of their short trips can go a long way in helping our communities efficiently address numerous environmental challenges, from air pollution to climate change.
  • Healthy economy: Active transportation systems also foster economic health by creating dynamic connected communities with a high quality of life that catalyzes small business development, increases property values, sparks tourism and encourages corporate investment that attracts a talented, highly educated workforce. Active transportation also offers economic benefits to families by providing transportation options that don't require consuming gasoline at $3 per gallon.
  • Mobility for all: Near--universal reliance on the automobile for transportation leaves many people out of the equation, stuck with no way to get around. Children, the elderly, the visually impaired or otherwise physically challenged, those with lower incomes, or those who simply choose to not have access to a car, are among the groups that benefit most when opportunities to safely walk or bicycle are improved."

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chip sealed roads

Every time I see a road that has been chip sealed, I take comfort in the fact that the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail will never been resurfaced with such a bicycle-unfriendly surface.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Street work in Shipshewana impacts parking

Mike Sutter, Shipshewana Town Manager, reported at the Pumpkinvine Advisory Committee meeting Aug. 11 that construction on several town streets will make it more difficult for people to park at the Wolfe Building and to navigate through town to the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.

The work is being done on Morton Street where the Wolfe Building is located.

From early August to early September, the work will be on Morton St. from North Street to Main Street. Because of this work, it will be difficult to park at the Town Hall (Wolfe Building).

From Sept. 8 to the end of November, the work will be on Morton St. from Main St. to East Middlebury St.

Sutter indicated that there is plenty of parking at the town ball fields off  N 735 W east of town.

Additional (though unofficial) parking is available west of the Subway restaurant and at the Shipshewana-Scott Elementary School on evenings and weekends. 

John Yoder
President
Friends of the Pumpkinvine

Trail use

It is always encouraging to see people on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, and it is even more encouraging to see groups suing the trail as a destination for a group outing.

Last Saturday, Aug. 8, I was with a group riding from Goshen to Aunt Karen's in Middlebury for breakfast when I saw people in red shirts helping bikers safely cross County Road 127 north of Goshen. It appeared that there was some sort of organized ride going on. I knew that Aug. 8 was also the day of the Amish Land & Lakes ride, but I was fairly sure that they did not come that far south with their routes.

I then began to see other riders in red shirts, so when the opportunity presented itself, I asked one of them what group they were with. They said that they were from a Baptist Church in Elkhart.

I continued on toward Middlebury on County Road 35 -- the gap in the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail -- when I saw a large group of people and at least a dozen cars at the small Pumpkinvine Nature Trail parking lot at County Road 35. This parking lot was designed to hold six or seven cars, and it was jam packed with twice that many. I'm not sure what the group was doing -- whether they were meeting riders at the end of their ride or just getting ready to start a ride. I'm guessing they were supporters waiting for riders from Goshen, because when we returned 90 minutes later, they were gone.

How gratifying it is to see groups like this using the trail for a group event.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thursday walk on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail



Organizers of the Maple City Walk are sponsoring free weekly community walks on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail every Thursday at 6 p.m. starting from the Abshire Park Cabin in Goshen. Walkers go from Abshire Park  to CR 28 and back, distance of 3.5 miles but are welcome to turn back earlier or walk farther if they'd like. The first walk was May 21. The walks are open to everyone, especially those who want to prepare for the annual Maple City Walk which will be held Sept 19.  #pvwalk

The 7th annual Maple City Walk will include a choice of a 10K, half marathon and full marathon walk starting at the Power House Park in downtown Goshen, and continuing on to the Maple City Greenway and the Pumpkinvine Trail. 

For more information about the Maple City Walk go to www.cityonthego.org  , e-mail juliagautsche@goshencity.com , or call 574-596-1632.  Also, like Maple City Walk on Facebook.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

Instagram

There are a lot of neat photos of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail on Instagram. Search using #pumpkinvinetrail or #pumpkinvinenaturetrail.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

AmazonSmile shopping can benefit the Friends of the Pumpkinvine


When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Friends of Pumpkinvine Nature Trail Inc. Bookmark the link http://smile.amazon.com/ch/35-1871609 and support us every time you shop.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tandems

On Friday riding the Pumpkinvine, I passed six Amish couples on tandems. The first two couples were in their 20s but the group of four were in their 50s or 60s. They were riding north from Goshen as I was going south.

Meeting so many Amish on tandems made me wonder if this is a trend. Time will tell. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

ADEC thanks Friends of the Pumpkinvine

The Goshen News article about the May 2015 ADEC Ride-A-Bike event had a very nice comment about how the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail has helped make their ride possible. Goshen News article

If I remember correctly, this ride used to be on the streets and it was a major action to close or cordon off some part of the road so the ride could take place. The ability of groups to use the Pumpkinvine as a fundraising venue is one that the Friends of the Pumpkinvine never imagined when they began this project 25 years ago. It's a great example of good unintended consequences.

Monday, May 11, 2015

MACOG Partners for Clean Air award



The Friends of the Pumpkinvine received Partners for Clean Air award, April 29, from MACOG. I asked MACOG why we got this award and received this reply from Jeremy Reiman their environmental planner:  

“Our Partners for Clean Air Awards are given to local public and private organizations making special efforts to promote clean air practices. The organization I work for, Michiana Area Council of Governments, and several of our partners select the award winners. Several members had mentioned the Friends of the Pumpkinvine's success with purchasing land for trail construction, prepping it, and turning it over to agencies to complete the Pumpkinvine greenway corridor, which opens up the opportunity for more sustainable transportation alternatives. We also heard word of your $300,000 grant to close the gaps on the trail. While we understand the primary focus of your group is the completion of the trail, our program recognizes the significance of getting more people out of their cars and on to their bikes.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Signs of the Times President’s talk– April 28, 2015 -- Greencroft Community Center

It is very gratifying to see a room filled with trail advocates, people interested in moving the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail toward completion or at least learning more about this greenway. Whatever your reason for coming tonight, I thank you for putting this event on your schedule. I hope that you go home with renewed enthusiasm for the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail and what it means to this community.

You have already met the current Friends of the Pumpkinvine board. Before I begin my presentation, I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize, Rhonda Yoder, who left the board this year after serving 10 years, including nine as treasurer. Rhonda, would you come up please?

The Friends of the Pumpkinvine board wants to publically thank you for the 10 years that you gave to the Friends and to this community, for the countless spreadsheets, financial reports, IRS 990 forms, insurance payments, bike ride tabulations and all the financial details that made our organization run smoothly. Your work helped to make us a better organization and by extension, our community a more livable and interesting place to live. In appreciation, we want to give you this plaque, and thank you for your dedication and commitment.

I speak tonight as a representative of the Friends of the Pumpkinvine board. We are the unelected, citizen advocates who promoted the creation of this linear park and continue to nurture its development through our website, newsletter, bike ride and we offer occasional suggestions for improvements, like water fountain here or a kiosk there.

However, the trail’s day-to-day worker bees (who make sure the Pumpkinvine is humming along as it should) are from the four agencies that manage the Pumpkinvine. We meet monthly as a Pumpkinvine Advisory Committee to discuss any issue related to the trail, like the type of signs, plowing or now plowing the trail, and what electric-powered or gas-powered vehicles may use the trail. Not all are here tonight, but I’d like introduce you to them nonetheless.

Mark Salee and Tom Enright represent Middlebury; Mike Sutter and Lynn Bontrager represent Shipshewana; Diane Madison, Ronda DeCaire, and Nick Steele represent Elkhart County Parks; Sheri Howland and Tanya Heyden represent Goshen; Bob Carrico and I represent the Friends of the Pumpkinvine.

Bernie Cunningham, who became superintendent of Elkhart County Parks after the group picture was taken last fall, also attends these meetings occasionally.

This group is not an intergovernmental agency in the legal sense, but it functions in many of the ways such an agency would function, if government agencies functioned like they are supposed to. When you have the opportunity, please thank these folks for the work they do to manage and maintain the Pumpkinvine.

I’ve called my remarks this evening, “Signs of the Times.” These are signs that indicate where the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail is, how people regard it, and where I think it is headed.

I can illustrate that theme with three brief stories. Several months ago I was poking around on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website and saw a headline announcing that they had ranked the Top 10 Trail in Indiana. Well, naturally I wanted to see where the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail ranked, and yet I was apprehensive. I wanted it to be in the top 10 and maybe even the top five, but given the well-known trails like the Monon in Indianapolis and the Cardinal Greenway in Muncie, The Nickle Plate in Rochester, and Prairie Dunelands in Portage  -- all wonderful greenways that I’ve seen, I was not hopeful the Pumpkinvine would make the list.

All that went through my mind as I paused before clicking on the link to the full story. Then I clicked the link, and it said that Rails-to-Trail Conservancy ranked the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail number one trail in Indiana, with this brief description.
“Featured as the November Trail of the Month, the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail steals the show in Indiana. If you want to experience genuine Midwestern Americana, this is it. Pastoral scenes of Amish life and fields of gold line the path. A must-visit trail!”

Now, I know from correspondence with the person who made the ranking that this ranking is no highly scientific measurement, but still in some informal matrix of values from a cross section of trail users the Pumpkinvine rank first in the state. I was amazed and pleased at the same time.

A few weeks later, on March 21, I received an email from George C. from Lexington, Mich. I want to read the whole email.
I recently read the Rails-to-Trails article about your trail and would love to visit and ride.

My wife and I live in south east Michigan in an area known to locals as the “thumb.” We enjoy traveling to, and staying at, places close to bike trails and make it a point to do so a few times each season.

Doing some snooping today, it looks like the Goshen airport is about 3 miles from the Hampton Inn along Lincolnway Road  . . .and maybe about the same distance to the trail. If we flew into Goshen, would Lincolnway be safe to ride into town?

I wrote back and suggested a safer route than U.S. 33, but as I answered that email, my mind was spinning as I tried to get my head around the fact that someone thought enough of our local trail to fly a private plane to see it. It’s another sign of the trail’s status. I’m guessing that not even our creative marketing friends, Denise Hernandez and Jackie Hughes with the Elkhart County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, have thought about promoting the Pumpkinvine as a place to fly to.

Then about two weeks ago, I was taking some pictures of the construction on the Middlebury DQ when a 40-something man came up to me and started asking me questions about my bike, how many gears, what was its size, was it aluminum? Things like that. I answered his questions and then, without my prompting, he said: “Isn’t this a fantastic trail?” I wasn’t wearing any Pumpkinvine clothes that linked me to the trail. He then launched into a glowing description of the Pumpkinvine and what a delight it was to ride it with his family. I don’t remember his exact words, but I do remember his evangelistic fervor, as if he needed to share his discovery with me in case I wasn’t familiar with it. He went on to say that it was the best trail of its kind near his family, and that they frequently make the 24-mile drive from Three Rivers, Mich., to ride the Pumpkinvine.

The only negative thing he had to say was: “I don’t feel very safe on the section that’s on the road,” and he pointed south toward CR 35. At that point, whipped out my Friends of the Pumpkinvine business card and told him our non-profit Friends group was working right this minute to close that gap, and that if he went to our website, he could help make that happen.  

What does these stories tell us? What conditions do they suggest?
·        The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, our modest, not that long, not that fancy, and still unfinished trail, has become a destination – something that people will drive to and some will even fly to in order to ride. And we know that they buy food and lodging, gas and biking, walking or running equipment and that helps our local economy. It’s new money.

·        But, the corollary to being a destination is that the more families the Pumpkinvine attracts, the more urgent it becomes that we finish the trail by closing the gaps that put families on the county roads.

What does that clientele look like? It look like this group, which happens to be my wife and two grandchildren. An adults who does not feel safe on the narrow county roads and children under 10. For them the car-free trail is a joy because it is safe. , six and four, and June is a grandmother towing the four year old. We were enjoying an April ride between CR 35 and CR 27 two years ago. They fit that profile.  

Before discussing this gap, I want to say that we as a Friends board are very aware that there is a gap in the Pumpkinvine from 850 W to downtown Shipshewana and many people would like to see it closed, also. There’s no parking where the trail stops, and that’s a problem, but there is a relatively safe alternative route people can use. With limited time and resources, our priority has been the CR 33 to CR 35 gap.

For strategic reasons, we divide this 1.5 mile as a gap between County Road 33 and County Road 35 into two parts, a northern and a southern half, divided by County Road 20

The strategy in these two sections is different because Friends of the Pumpkinvine own most of the old railroad corridor on the north half, but we own almost nothing on the southern half. We own the red dotted line. We don’t own the yellow. In our legal system, you can’t build on someone else’s land. In both the north and south parts of the gap, the railroad sold the corridor to adjacent landowners before our Friends group formed. Currently trail users bypass this section on three country roads – a distance of 1.7 miles.

We chose to concentrate on the south half of the gap because we knew negotiations would take longer and because earlier contacts with the relevant party in the northern half were not productive.  

At our annual dinner last year, I reported that we’ve had very positive discussions with the landowners in this section. In our March newsletter, we reported that we had agreed on a tentative route for the trail through this section. Here it is. And here’s a view looking south.

First it goes northeast 500 feet on the corridor. Then there’s a 750 foot bubble into the woods, through a wetlands, back on the corridor for 700 feet, then north 900 feet along south fork of Pine Creek (all that land belongs to one family), turn the corner, and parallel CR 20 for about 1300 feet. Total length about .8 of a mile.

Let’s pause for a moment and let these images sink in. Three Amish families, for whom separation from the world is a prime theological and practical belief, have said that it’s fine with them if 50,000 people a year ride through their property. By agreeing to this route, they are saying that they are willing to sacrifice some of their land and privacy for the good that extending the Pumpkinvine off road will have for the their community and the larger community, an accommodation that they would not have to make. They see value in the trail for everyone.

To put this attitude in perspective, let me tell you about a recently conversation I had with Jim Wellington, the person who championed Fidler Pond Park here in Goshen. He said that the neighbors to that proposed park were violently opposed to its creation. They were fearful of stranger and giving up their privacy. My own community of Spring Brooke is balking at extending the Fidler Pond trail on the edge of our property to College Ave. So, I applaud these three families for allowing the Pumpkinvine to be extended through their land.

Where is the process at this point? Here are the important points.
1.     We have built trust with landowners through many meetings, walks and discussions. We would not be applying grant to build the trail if we were worried about getting the land.
2.     We have an estimate of the cost for purchase and development:  $848,000.
3.     The process of purchase is somewhat complicated by the fact that the route goes off the old railroad corridor, through wetlands and along a creek – that requires surveys and legal descriptions.
4.     Building the trail will be is more complicated because the route goes off the old railroad corridor, through wetlands and along a creek – both of these conditions require special permits to build.
5.     All of these negotiations move on Amish time, that is to say, slowly.  

Now the good news: We have the potential to close the gap.
1.     Elkhart County Community Foundation has given$300,000 matching grant to buy and build the trail.
2.     Friends will pay for engineering from funds we already have.
3.     Elkhart County Parks has applied for $200,000 grant from Indiana Department of Natural Resources for development and the park board has pledged $75,000 toward the project.
4.     Friends of the Pumpkinvine need to raise at least $135,000 to receive the match to build the trail. If Elkhart County Parks does not receive the $200,000 grant, it will be much more. In a normal year, we raise about $35,000 above expenses or $70,000 in two years. That leaves $65,000 additional to raise.
5.     Construction:  2016 or 2017.

If our 300 supporting households were to increase their giving in the next two years, we would be close to having enough to buy and build the trail. In other words, if you are a member at the $30 level, consider going to $60. If you are at $60, consider going to $100, and so on. If you aren’t a member, consider joining or having your business be a corporate sponsor.

I’m nervous in giving you these figures. In doing so I’m trying to thread the needle between making the amount seem so large that it discourages people from giving and making it seem so small that it will seem easy, which also discourages people from giving. Resist those options: raising $135,000 won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible either.

In conclusion, let me remind you of these signs of the times:
1.     The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail has become a destination that attracts families, and we want them to have a safe, enjoyable experience on the trail by closing this gap.
2.     Three families, seeing the value of the trail for transportation to work and school and for family outings, have generously offered to sell their land so that we can close the southern part of the gap.
3.     The purchase and construction will cost $834,000.
4.     The Friends of the Pumpkinvine need to raise $135,000 to complete the match to the grant from the Elkhart County Community Foundation.
5.     Construction:  2016 or 2017.

On your table is a membership brochure. You can use it to join as a member or corporate sponsor or renew an existing membership. Danny Graber will talk about how you can help with the bike ride.

Our goal is to make the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail that is recognized around the Midwest as an excellent linear park and make it even better. I invite you to join us in meeting the financial challenge to close the gap that will make that goal a reality.