Elkhart County Commissioners kick in $1.5M for new C.R. 17 bike path

Feb. 6—GOSHEN — Another bike path is in the works.

The new bike path and pedestrian bridge will run alongside C.R. 17 across the tracks. The Elkhart County Commissioners approved $1.5 million for the project during their meeting Monday morning.

The project will make the new courthouse accessible by way of Reith Boulevard and ultimately connect to the Mapleheart Trail and cost roughly $5.5 million. The project has been in development for several years but has unsurprisingly increased in estimated cost significantly over the last six months.

To fund the project, the Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission appropriated $1.5 million; $2.8 million will come from federal aid; and the commissioners will provide $1.5 million from the Northeast Tax Increment Finance District. Bidding is expected to begin on March 15.


The Elkhart County Commissioners moved to approve ordinances with the county's towns which delegate the county as the municipal authority on planning and zoning, subdividing of real estate, building control, and unsafe buildings. Ordinances were instated for all incorporated towns in the county — Bristol, Middlebury, Wakarusa and Millersburg — and represent a renewal of previously agreed-upon delegations.

"This is an agreement for services we already do," said Elkhart County Director of Planning & Development Chris Godlewski. "At the end of the day, nothing really changes, it's just these agreements help codify the agreement we already have already in place. There have been agreements back in the '50s, '60s and '70s, but they're all old, outdated, nondespensible in court so this just really cleans things up."

County attorney Craig Buche explained during the commissioner's meeting Monday that while all four towns have maintained agreements for many years, some dated as far back as the 1960s, and more recent ones weren't consistent with those older ones.

"A hodgepodge of agreements, inconsistent , leaving questions in terms of authority, and we felt it would be better to come up with a consistent approach," Buche said.

Planning Department employees worked with each of the towns to create a uniform ordinance addressing planning and zoning laws.

Other items to come before the board include:

—An appropriation for a sub-road to be constructed off C.R. 20, east of C.R 17 was approved to the tune of $750,000 from the Northeast TIF. The request followed reduction requests for two other projects — $46,987 from the Middlebury church demolition project; and $500,000 from the C.R. 4 construction project.

—A subdivision may be expanding soon. The commissioners approved just over 2,500 feet of subdivision road at Deerfield Estates near Boot Lake.

—The commissioners also approved the annual contract with the Elkhart County Humane Society.

Operations Director Ben Mathews told the commissioners that while animal intake increased by about 17%, and there was a 39% increase in animals serviced at the clinic outside of intakes, the cost would not increase for this year's contract. In addition, Mathews informed, over 1,000 pets were fed through the food assistance program, and 250 pets received free vaccines and microchipping. He also said the humane society would be looking to change animal welfare ordinances a the county level due to a lack of or reduced law enforcement assistance for animal control calls.

Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at dani.messick@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2065.