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Michiana Regional Greenways & Trails Project

Michiana Regional Greenways is a plan to link northern Indiana and southern Michigan trails and parks to boost cross-state tourism.

From the Michiana Regional Greenways & Trails Visioning Charrette

Map of Indiana

What is a "Charrette"?

"Charrette" is a trendy French word for an organized planning and brainstorming session. We believe it would benefit northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan to think about how local trails and greenways could connect into a larger network. A charrette is a practical way to stimulate such thinking.

Why is the Michiana Regional Greenways & Trails Visioning Charrette important?

Our Goal: To use the Charrette as a vehicle for communication regarding individual county efforts and opportunities for cooperative planning on greenways and trails within the Michiana region.

The hope for the Michiana Regional Greenways & Trails Visioning Charrette is that it will produce a clear vision for a well-planned network of alternative transportation, pathways, greenways, bikeways and trails that connect across county and state lines. Perhaps the most important aspect of the charrette is the opportunity for participants to see what other counties have planned.

"Often times planners are restricted by jurisdictions or by plans already in place," says Rory Robinson of the National Park Service. "Or they're limited because they just don't know what other counties are planning. Sometimes a greenway is built, only to discover it doesn't line up with another city or county's greenway. I think one of the goals of this charrette is to meet the representatives from surrounding jurisdictions and to help each other see possibilities we may have overlooked."

Participating counties: Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph MI, LaPorte, St. Joseph IN, Elkhart, LaGrange, Kosciusko, Marshall and Starke. Michigan counties are collectively represented by SMART (Southwest Michigan Alliance for Recreational Trails). NIRPC (Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission) will represent the Indiana counties.

Why should we plan for trails and greenways?

Residents of areas where walking or biking is perceived as dangerous statistically weigh more than residents of perceived "walkable" cities. Physical inactivity is responsible for at least 200,000 deaths each year. 46% of respondents to the 2001 Indiana Trails Study said they would bike to work if a safe passageway was available to them. The same study found that 65% of users of six Indiana trails did so exclusively for health and fitness reasons. Greenways statistically attract new residents and tourists. Property values along the Monon Trail in Indianapolis increased $17,000 in 1999. 69% of residents along the Monon Trail (Indianapolis) said they felt the trail improved the safety and atmosphere of their neighborhood.

What will the end product be?

The charrette's end product may be a physical document outlining the vision, a PowerPoint presentation, a video/DVD documentary of the charrette, or a combination thereof. Charrette participants and committee members will decide which format or formats will be most useful in presenting the vision to their cities and counties. The hope is that cities and counties will consider the Greenways & Trails Vision Map when planning a greenway or updating alternative transportation plans. The map will also be used as a reference tool as the State of Indiana begins to look at planning a state-wide trails and greenways plan.

The Regional Charrette will be held: June 14, 2005, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (breakfast and lunch provided) Memorial Hosptial & Health System Campus, Leighton Center, 534 North Michigan Street, South Bend, Indiana. For more information, please contact: Chuck Lehman (

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