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Connor Mast, 13, of Goshen, casts his line June 20 during the Fidler Pond’s Fantastic Fishing Derby. Redevelopment commission members Tuesday approved a request by Becky Hutsell, redevelopment project manager for the city, for permission to issue a request for proposals for the design of Phase I of a proposed Fidler Pond connector path that would run between the park and College Avenue to the south.

GOSHEN — Plans to add a pedestrian route to access the Fidler Pond Park trail on the city’s south side took an initial step forward Tuesday during a meeting of the Goshen Redevelopment Commission.

At the meeting, commission members approved a request by Becky Hutsell, redevelopment project manager for the city, for permission to issue a request for proposals for the design of Phase I of a proposed Fidler Pond connector path that would run between the park and College Avenue to the south.

“Fidler Pond Park trail is one of Goshen’s most heavily utilized trails, but there is currently no pedestrian route to access the park,” Hutsell said in presenting the request Tuesday. “For the past two years, Engineering has submitted project funding requests to MACOG for a connector trail from East College Avenue to Fidler Pond, but it has not been selected for funding. It continues to be a potential project in our Five-Year Capital Plan project list. Although it’s clear that a connector path is desired, there has been debate on the best route to construct.”

However, Hutsell noted that this past September, members of the Spring Brooke neighborhood, located just to the southeast of Fidler Pond Park, requested a meeting with city engineering and parks department staff to discuss options for proceeding with the establishment of a connector path despite the lack of MACOG funding support.

“Engineering staff has evaluated different options and the owners of the property at 403 Oak Lane have indicated that they would be willing to provide an easement at the southern edge of their property to allow for a path to be constructed,” Hutsell said. “The Spring Brooke neighborhood already utilizes their property to connect to the park with their permission, but they would prefer for it to be an established path.

“With this option, the existing Oak Lane roadway would act as the pathway for now while the trail is constructed from the north end of the road to the Fidler Pond Park property, and sharrows would be added to the Oak Lane roadway as Phase I of this project,” she added of the plan. “Phase II would come at a later date and would include reconstructing Oak Lane with curb and gutter and installation of a separated trail.”

Hutsell noted that city engineering staff have prepared preliminary drawings and engineer’s estimates for both Phase I and Phase II of the connector project. As currently estimated, Hutsell put the total cost of Phase I at right around $130,500, while the total cost of Phase II of the project has been estimated at about $432,000.

“We are requesting permission to move forward with an RFP for the design of Phase I, which would include a full survey of the area, establishing the exact path location and construction of the connector from the north end of Oak Lane to the park,” Hutsell told the board. “This project, as designed by staff, costs a significant amount less than the previously proposed project that was submitted to MACOG. In addition, the ability to proceed in phases utilizing local funding allows for the area to benefit from the connection much sooner than if federal money were granted, as construction utilizing their funding is typically four years out from the award.”

Given that the park is located within the city’s Consolidated River Race TIF, and the proposed connection would benefit the park by providing an additional access, Hutsell noted that the project, if approved, will be funded from the TIF.

“I think this is a good move,” commission member Brett Weddell said of the plan prior to Tuesday’s vote.

Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman offered a similar sentiment in voicing his support for the plan.

“This is a connection we’ve been trying to make, and this is a good piece that we can hopefully move forward with sooner rather than later to keep the walkability and bikeability of our community going,” Stutsman said.

The remainder of the commission’s members agreed, and the request to move forward with the RFP was approved unanimously.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, commission members:

• Authorized the Goshen Engineering Department to advertise for bids for the upcoming Eisenhower Drive North and South Pavement Replacement project. Bids will be due back to the commission Nov. 9, and a contract recommendation will be offered at the commission’s Nov. 10 meeting.

• Accepted proposals for the new South Side Fire Station study. A committee made up of city staff and commission members will now review the proposals and offer a contract suggestion at a future commission meeting.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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