Indiana mayor says trail plan could help cities grow

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has endorsed the proposed Mounds Greenway project as a way to improve the city as well as the cities of Anderson and Muncie.

Brainard told the Star Press of Muncie that the linear park and trail network would improve the area's quality of life and could draw in more residents. It would run along the White River from Muncie to Indianapolis.

During Brainard's six terms as mayor, Carmel's population increased from about 25,000 to 90,000. Brainard attributes some of that growth to the increase in parks, green spaces and trails, which grew from 40 acres to more than 800 acres during that time. He said projects such as Central Park, City Center, the Arts and Design District, and the Center for Performing Arts have also built the city's reputation as a good place to live and do business.

Brainard said he believes the Mounds Greenway project could continue to improve not only Carmel but also nearby cities of Anderson and Muncie, both of which are losing residents due to auto and other factory closings.

The project is being led by the Hoosier Environmental Council and has support from Brainard, Dennis Tyler of Muncie, John Ditslear of Noblesville, and Andy Cook of Westfield.

Supporters say the proposal would conserve the river, forests and wetlands.

But Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. said it lacks funding and that there are unanswered questions about long-term maintenance.

"I'm looking for answers and haven't seen them," Broderick said. "Everyone is in favor of improving the quality of life for local residents, but there was no substance around the vision."

The greenway is an alternative to the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir.

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