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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 12:39 pm

Verbatim: Projects Increasing Wellness and Recreation Moving Forward in Northeast Indiana

The following was released on Tues., June 13, 2017 by Indiana Regional Cities Initiative:

INDIANAPOLIS (June 13, 2017) – The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has approved Regional Cities Initiative funding to support the establishment of the Russel and Evelyn Fahl Aquatics Facility in Columbia City, the construction of the Fishing Line Trail in Noble County and the expansion of the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Center in Kendallville.
"Indiana is ranked first in the Midwest and fifth in the nation for business, and the Regional Cities Initiative is playing a key role in continuing this economic momentum with a focus on talent retention and attraction," said IEDC President Elaine Bedel. "These three projects will add vibrancy to their communities by enhancing Northeast Indiana's natural resources and outdoor space, giving residents more options when it comes to recreation and wellness." 


The Russel and Evelyn Fahl Aquatics Facility will feature more than 7,500 square feet of outdoor recreation space at the site of the former Burnworth Memorial Pool at 325 N. Wayne St. in Columbia City. Columbia City has been ranked as one of the top 10 healthiest communities in the state, and this project will increase quality of place by creating a destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoors.

The Fahl Aquatics Facility will include a competition pool with six lanes, a zero-depth entry pool, multiple waterslides, a current channel, a water vortex, a drop slide, a floatable play feature, and a grassy area for picnics and other recreation. To ensure that the center is used year-round, the aquatics center will incorporate a large, outdoor ice skating rink. Columbia City will break ground on the project in August of this year and expects it to be complete by May 2018.

Total Project Investment: $4.25 million
State funding: $844,079

"This transformative project is the culmination of hundreds of donors, supporters, and volunteers, each making a difference in the life of our community. We are thankful for the generous contributions by the IEDC and Northeast RDA, The Dekko Foundation, Fahl Family, Lutheran Health, Whitley County Community Foundation, and so many others! In Columbia City, we are truly Building a Future Together," said Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel.


The Fishing Line Trail is a part of Northeast Indiana’s Regional Trail System and will consist of more than five miles of trails connecting Rome City to Kendallville. The trail will link the two communities to the region and several Noble County destinations, including: the Gene Stratton-Porter state historic site, Sylvan Lake, East Noble Schools, the Kendallville YMCA and Bixler Lake.

This project will create safe transportation and recreation for Hoosiers in Northeast Indiana while aiding in economic development and continued success of area businesses. A 1.25 mile segment of the trail was completed in July 2016, with plans to complete the final 3.78 miles by the fall of 2018.

Total Project Investment: $1.02 million
State funding: $171,500

"The health of our communities and our citizens will benefit from the opportunity to increase and maintain exercise and activity in the safe and appealing environment of the Fishing Line Trail. The trail has benefited from the support of the governments of Noble County, Kendallville and Rome City as well as foundations and private individuals, including completing more than 1.25 miles already. But there is still much to accomplish. As a physician, Noble County Health Officer, president of the Noble Trails board and as a lifelong resident of Noble County, I fully support this project," said Dr. Terry Gaff, Noble Trails board president. 



The Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex, located at 524 South Allen Chapel Rd. in Kendallville, is open to the public for recreational use year-round, hosting organized youth and adult leagues. Games will take place every night of the week, and weekend tournaments will include youth baseball and softball, as well as adult softball tournaments and World Series-qualifying events that attract people from across the country. The project includes expanding the recreation complex by adding four youth ball fields, a concession building and a soccer field, paving the parking lot, installing an entrance sign and paving concrete walkways connecting the complex and Bixler Lake Park. In addition, a mobile stage will be purchased for entertainment at the complex and throughout the city.

Because of this expansion, the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex will be able to host additional events and tournaments, drawing people from near and far to the region’s park and trail system while giving community members more opportunities to enjoy the recreation complex. Construction is expected to begin this summer with completion in 2018. The new ballfields are expected to be ready for play in the spring of 2019.

Total Project Investment: $2.38 million
State funding: $392,000

“This project will benefit our community and the surrounding area for generations to come. The collaboration and partnerships with the RDA, the Noble County EDC, the various foundations in Noble County as well as the community support make this possible. We are very proud of the team effort," said Kendallville Mayor SuzAnne Handshoe.

Regional Cities Initiative in Northeast Indiana:
These projects were recommended for funding by the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) and are part of the region's Road to One Million plan, which outlines a short-term goal of 38 regional development projects in 11 counties totaling $400 million in quality of place investments, as well as a vision for more than 70 projects and $1.5 billion in public and private investment over the next 10 years. Through this long-term regional development planning, the 11-county region aims to attain one million residents by 2031. 

Northeast Indiana was one of three Indiana regions selected to receive state funding through the Regional Cities Initiative, which will allocate a total of $126 million toward 100 quality of place projects totaling more than $2 billion in combined state, local and private investment in order to retain and attract top talent to the Hoosier state.