About two dozen hearty souls braced themselves against a blustery wind to celebrate the extension of the trail at Riverfront Park. Against the backdrop of the St. Joseph River, a cloudless sky, and swirling fall leaves, Autumn Carey, Chairwoman of the City of Niles Parks and Recreation Department said the trail “has been twenty years in the making”. The first section of the trail was opened in 1996. She said “it takes a lot of people” to accomplish something like this.
Mayor Michael McCousin also had a few words to commemorate the opening. Before snipping the bright red ribbon, he congratulated the all-volunteer Parks and Recreation Board, and said that he has received a lot of comments on a lot of things in Niles. But for this project he has received “more positive comments than for anything else the city has done”. The Mayor then hoisted a giant pair of scissors, and cut the ribbon to a round of applause from the assembly.
This trail is part of the interstate Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail that will connect Niles, Mich. to Mishawaka, Ind. and has been identified as a crucial north-south link in the overall non-motorized and green network in Berrien County, Mich. and St. Joseph County, Ind. In March of this year the Niles City Council endorsed the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail Plan as a concept for further development, and showed support for the exploration of funding and other methods of implementation of the plan in order to make it a reality.
There are three trail segments that await completion. All three segments have obstacles, yet are moving forward.
- Niles Township from Fort/Third to the state line,
- St. Joseph County, Ind. from the state line to Roseland, Ind.
- South Bend, Ind. from Ironwood Dr. to the South Bend / Mishawaka city line.
Looking ahead, some dream of the day when the trail will extend from Elkhart, Ind. to Berrien Springs, Mich. and beyond. For more information on the IN-MI Trail view a map.