MIDDLEBURY - The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail celebrated a major milestone Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony for three new sections of the trail that connects Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewana.
The three completed sections in Middlebury are a 1.2 mile section connecting from the U.S. 20 tunnel to Wayne Street, a 1,000 foot section along S.R. 13 between York Drive and the Dairy Queen on S.R. 13 and approximately three-tenths of a mile from C.R. 37 to C.R. 35.
Mark Salee, Middlebury Town Manager, said that the new trails in Middlebury will serve as connectors for the trails in Middlebury connecting to the town’s parks, downtown and restaurants.
“The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail running through the town is the backbone of the trails of Middlebury,” he said.
Jeff Burbrink, president of the Elkhart County parks board, said that the trail is a quality of life factor that will connect the communities along the trail.
“This is a community development effort,” he said. ”This is something that’s bringing people to our community, it’s connecting our community.”
“It’s like the super highway for the people who are commuting to work and then after hours it’s taking families out,” Salee said.
Salee added that new signage is coming to help direct trail users to places in Middlebury.
John Yoder, president of the Friends of the Pumpkinvine group said that this is a major milestone in the long-running project.
According to Yoder, 20 years ago this month the Friends group purchased the trail corridor from the Pennsylvania railroad. After the purchase they donated the land to the various government entities when they had the funds to develop the trail he said.
Yoder also talked about the many hurdles in making it this far.
“What is it that has kept the vision alive for the trail,” he asked. “The one key, I think, is the generosity of our community Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewana.”