Thursday, May 4, 2023
AUBURN, Ind. – A group of 11 individuals representing towns, cities and counties along the Poka-Bache Trail have recently begun to meet to come up with a plan for completion of the trail running from Pokagan State Park in Angola to Ouabache State Park in Bluffton.
Representing the City of Auburn on the Poka-Bache Coalition is Auburn Common Council member Natalie DeWitt. DeWitt is one of three representatives from DeKalb County, including Pam Howard, town manager in Waterloo and DeKalb County Commissioner Mike Watson.
“Being part of this task force is critical for trail growth throughout northeast Indiana,” DeWitt said. “We are excited about the further maintenance and completion of the 81-mile trail.”
Once completed the Poka-Bache Trail will be a multi-use, non-motorized trail connecting the two state parks. The trail will travel through the counties of Steuben, DeKalb, Allen and Wells, traversing through Angola, Waterloo, Auburn, Huntertown, Fort Wayne, Ossian and Bluffton.
The trail is a crucial part of the United Trails project in northeast Indiana and will be a tourist destination once completed supporting cultural and economic growth for all four counties. The trail will connect over 121,000 people, 140,000 recreational areas, 10 libraries and 50 schools within one mile of the trail.
DeWitt said the Auburn/Waterloo Trail, which is part of the system is a vital part of the community. The trail takes residents and visitors from Rieke Park north to Waterloo. The trail also continues south using sidewalks throughout the community to Wayne Street.
DeWitt said over 14,000 people utilized Auburn’s trail system in 2022.
Once completed the DeKalb County portion of the trail will connect with the Fort Wayne trail system near Huntertown. The northern portion of the trail will connect in Steuben County north of Waterloo.
As of November 2022, 34.2 miles of the trail have been completed and another 7.5 miles are being actively worked on.
The Poka-Bache Connector Coalition determined that an inter-local agreement between the 11 local agencies that would be connected by the trail would be the most appropriate mechanism to collaborate and synergize efforts to complete the project. The coalition chose to utilize the Inter-local Cooperation provisions of Indiana Law (Indiana Code 36-1-7).
Each of the local agencies approved and adopted the agreement, then appointed one member to the task force. The coalition will now serve in an advisory role and support the needs of the appointed task force members.