For more than a decade a group in Granger has fought to bring recreational paths to town for walking and biking.
This is the year it’s finally going to happen.
Granger is heavily populated, yet largely served by narrow rural roads that don’t leave much room for recreation.
“It’s hard for me to get out of town here on my bike and it makes me a little nervous, so I’m glad this is coming,” said Gary Babcoke of Friends of Granger Paths. “We’re going to get the first phase of our master plan which is going to be a multi-use path down Adams Road.”
While such paths are common in the cities of South Bend and Mishawaka, Granger is unincorporated.
“We thought because we were taxpayer citizens we could go in and say to the county council people, hey, we want sidewalks in Granger, we pay taxes, can’t we get sidewalks? And we learned it’s not that easy,” said the president of Friends of Granger Paths, Barbara Fredman.
In fact, after more than a decade of pushing for paths in Granger, the group has little to show for it. There is just one dedicated bike path north of the library at Elm and Adams that is a mere one tenth of a mile in length.
While the group pushed for paths to be part of the S.R. 23 reconstruction project—it had to settle for sidewalks. “I think one of the largest stumbling blocks we have had is that we're not really part of organized, government, in other words, Granger doesn't really have a town board, we don't have a parks department,” said Babcoke.
This year, the group’s persistence and patience will start to pay off.
Next Wednesday, a bid letting is scheduled for a one mile multi-use path that will run down Adams Road from Elm to Cherry, linking the Granger library branch with two elementary schools.
The bid specs call for the project to be completed in July.
Friends of Granger Paths raised $150,000 in private donations to help pay for the Adams Road path.
A second project is also in the works with the first phase scheduled for a bid letting in May. Plans to rebuild Gumwood Road call for a 10 foot wide multi-use path along the entire two mile stretch from State Road 23 to the Michigan state line. The path will pass three separate Knollwood subdivisions.
It’s been a learning experience for us, and we hope that what we've learned over the last five years, we can apply over the next several years to really accelerate the pace of the paths going in,” said Robert Nelson with Friends of Granger Paths.