TIPTON — Have opinions about possible future bicycle and pedestrian paths in Tipton and Tipton County? Now is your time to speak up.

As part of the development of a Tipton bicycle and pedestrian master plan, public input meetings are being held at various locations around the county.

One was held in Windfall this Tuesday. If you missed or were not aware of Tuesday’s event, there are two remaining public input meetings. They are:

3 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Sharpsville Gym, Sharpsville.

3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Tipton County Foundation, 1020 W. Jefferson St., Tipton.

Discussion will center around desired pedestrian and biking routes, desired destinations and existing problem locations. Each date is an open house forum, and one may stop by at any time.

Steve Raber, of the volunteer group Tipton Trails, encourages anybody with a suggestion to attend the meeting and provide their input. He said there will be maps at the public input meetings so attendees will be able to mark where they would like to see trails installed.

“Probably not everything will end up on there (the master plan), but what we expect to see is there are going to be certain routes that people identify more frequently,” Raber said.

Many cities and towns in Indiana, including Kokomo, have invested heavily into implementing trail systems, but Tipton, Tipton County and its smaller communities, such as Sharpsville and Windfall, have fallen behind in that regard.

Advocates, such as the volunteer group Tipton Trails, hope to change that, though. Local and county officials are on board as well.

Through a grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the city of Tipton was able to install in 2011 a modest half-mile paved walking trail that connects Tipton Park’s walking trail with the Tipton County 4-H Fairgrounds. Another grant from the DNR will extend that walking path in the near future.

Now, the city of Tipton and Tipton County have commissioned a report that will set the foundation for the creation of future bike and walking trails.

Thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Indiana State Department of Health and $12,500 from Tipton County government, the government entities hired the landscape architecture firm Mark M. Holeman Inc. to craft a bicycle and pedestrian master plan for the county.

The goals and objectives of the master plan are as follows:

  • Create connections between the communities of Kempton, Sharpsville, Tipton and Windfall.
  • Be ready for future funding opportunities when they present themselves.
  • Identify future Safe Routes to Schools opportunities.
  • Enhance community connections to neighborhoods, parks, schools, businesses, retail and dining, and government facilities.
  • Increase the number of people who exercise daily by providing safe walking and biking experiences for citizens of all ages and levels of ability.
  • Increase the number of people walking and bicycling for everyday transportation purposes such as commuting to work, to school and running errands.
  • Increase the quality of life for the residents of Tipton County in an effort to retain current citizens and attract new citizens.
  • Provide guidance and priorities for implementing infrastructure to support walking and bicycling with a broad range of funding and support.
  • Increase eco-tourism in Tipton County by attracting people who are looking for recreational activities in the region.

Rabor said the goal is to have the master plan complete by the end of April.

To be clear, the master plan does not assess the feasibility of placing trails in particular locations, and it does not provide construction details. Instead, the master plan will serve as a vision for the next couple of decades.

Raber said the hope is the county will be awarded another grant by the ISDH to implement some of the projects laid out in the master plan.

“If nothing else, it lays all the groundwork for going after other grants because it will show there’s a plan in place, that there’s broad support for the plan and that there’s been public input,” Raber said.

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