MYPATH VIDEO– An introduction to the MYPath Trail System produced by Adam Bowen with aerial photography by Tyler Hammond of Skysource Imaging.
The Owen County Community Foundation (OCCF), the Owen County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Owen County Family YMCA have joined to create a multi-use path and trail system to enhance recreational opportunities and improve safety on major walking routes for the residents of Spencer and Owen County. We envision a trail system that encourages healthier lifestyles, more children walking to school, and more older citizens enjoying the use of upgraded sidewalks. MYPath will be a system of sidewalks and trails in and around Spencer that will connect McCormick’s Creek State Park to the YMCA (‘M’cCormick’s Creek to the ‘Y’MCA, hence ‘MY’Path). This project represents the largest community effort undertaken in the first 20 years of the OCCF and is an approved project of the State of Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration. MYPath will also be a celebration of the OCCF’s 25th anniversary commemoration in 2019 and the SWCD’s 70th anniversary in 2016. This project is also being undertaken with the collaboration of the Town of Spencer, Owen County, and McCormick’s Creek State Park.
Construction of later phases of MYPath will connect the YMCA to the heart of downtown Spencer by building new sidewalks and repairing existing sidewalks. In addition, a pedestrian walkway over State Highway 46 will be proposed as a means for the Owen Valley Middle/High School students to access the YMCA. A path will be established from Hillside Avenue along the east side of Main Street south to the end of the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge. This section will utilize existing sidewalks and will include repairs and upgrades planned and funded through the Spencer Main Street group.
The Town of Spencer will also expand its recreational opportunities by eventually having another means to access McCormick’s Creek State Park and the DNR public access site. The Riverfront Trail along the White River will require access to six privately owned land parcels. The process will include appraisals, surveys, and legal and filing expenses. The trail will consist of 50-foot conservation easements (total 6.2 acres) as well as two parcels (21.8 acres total). A nature trail along the White River will connect the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge on Pottersville Road to the DNR public access site on River Road. The Trailhead will be located at Cooper Commons, Spencer’s only public park located by the Owen County Fairgrounds on the southeast side of town. The Owen County Chamber of Commerce and the Owen County Convention and Visitors Bureau are currently working with the OCCF and SWCD to form a maintenance plan for the DNR Public Access Site that will eventually extend to land purchases along the White River including the MYpath Riverfront Trail. This plan currently consists of placing a new sign at the DNR Public Access Site, mowing, and organizing trash pickup days with volunteers.
Once a simple trail has been established along the river, the SWCD, in partnership with the OCCF, YMCA, McCormick’s Creek State Park, and others, will use the riverfront pathway to educate the community about the county’s historical use of the White River and the importance of conservation in today’s world.
- 2016: Completion of Riverfront Trail Phase I, upgraded parking lot and Trailhead at Cooper Commons, and enhancements to the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge in time for the State Bicentennial Celebration and SWCD’s 70th
- 2019: Completion of primary network and school route for Owen County’s Bicentennial Celebration and OCCF’s 25th
- 2020: Overall project complete and in use.
- The OCCF has committed $30,000 for the MYPath project.
- The OCCF and SWCD were awarded a $60,000 grant in October 2014 from Smithville Charitable Foundation to pay for appraisals, easements, initial trail system design/engineering plans, and project management.
- The OCCF and SWCD were awarded a $53,500 grant in November 2014 from DNR’s Bicentennial Nature Trust to help pay for conservation easements.
- The Boston Scientific Employee grant of $3,500 was awarded to the SWCD.
- In November of 2015, Duke Energy funded the full grant request of $12,000, for restoration of the land purchased for the Riverfront Trail which includes wetlands.
- In December of 2015, Boston Scientific awarded a $31,000 grant for upgrades to the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge.
- In early January 2016, the SWCD was awarded a $49,500 Place Based Investment grant from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development for upgrades to the current parking lot at Cooper Commons and a new Trailhead.
MYPath provides connections in addition to the main east-west termini:
- YMCA & McCormick’s Creek State Park, Cooper Commons
- Town with school complex
- Senior Center and senior housing with the rest of Spencer
- Major businesses like Cook Urological and Boston Scientific connected with town
- Links to the Veteran’s Park north of Spencer Elementary
- Courthouse Square, Veterans Memorial, Viquesney Doughboy, Tivoli Theater
Benefits to Owen County residents:
MYPath is a large-scale project intended to promote recreation in the Town of Spencer and to provide safe walking and bicycling routes to residents of all ages. The Comprehensive Master Parks Plan approved in February 2014 envisions multi-use paths from the Owen County Family YMCA and the Owen Valley Middle/High School on State Road 46 to the center of Spencer and southeast to the Town’s only public park, Cooper Commons, located next to the Owen County Fairgrounds. Currently, there is no safe avenue for residents and children to walk from Owen Valley Middle and High Schools to the east side of town.
The MYPath Trail System will benefit residents of Owen County and their guests by providing enhanced recreational resources and safer walkways through town. The Town of Spencer’s connection to McCormick’s Creek State Park will allow many residents to access the park in new and exciting ways, as well as draw in people from surrounding areas to the Town of Spencer. Visitors to the State Park are typically directed to visit Bloomington for dining and lodging, and we hope that the MYpath project and re-beautification of Main Street will make Spencer a closer alternative destination for visitors.
The Riverfront Trail will serve as a conservation easement to protect the sensitive habitat of the White River’s riparian zone. The trail will eventually serve as an easily accessible educational tool for the Owen County SWCD and Spencer Parks and Recreation Board where signs about the wildlife and historical uses of the White River will be displayed, and informational hikes can be led from the Trailhead at Cooper Commons.