A view of a segment of the Conklin Bay Boardwalk & Trail is shown. Photo Provided.
A view of a segment of the Conklin Bay Boardwalk & Trail is shown. Photo Provided.
SYRACUSE – The Syracuse-Wawasee Trail Committee announced the Conklin Bay Boardwalk & Trail is complete and open to the public.

An official ribbon-cutting date will be scheduled later.

Kay Young, committee chair, said, “We want to have a ribbon-cutting when we can have people in attendance, and this is not possible with the COVID-19 restrictions.”

The committee appreciates Earth Source Inc., A&Z Engineering, Selge Construction and Robert Smith, project manager, for completing the project on time.

The Syracuse-Wawasee Trail Committee thanked its Conklin Bay donors for their support during this project that spans over five years. “We deeply appreciate their generosity, collaboration, encouragement and trust as we continue to make a connected community a reality,” according to a news release from the committee.

The Conklin Bay Boardwalk & Trail connects to Harkless Drive. A concrete sidewalk leads to the entrance of the wetland’s boardwalk. This is where the trail becomes unique: the wetlands portion of the trail will consist of one-third mile of boardwalk over the Conklin Bay/Rolland Conservation Area wetlands and have three small overlook areas and one large observation platform, which will allow a better view of Lake Wawasee.

Several overlooks have Polywood benches for trail users and natural enthusiasts to sit, observe and enjoy a natural lake ecosystem. Helical piles were constructed and installed to elevate the boardwalk to minimize the effect on the wetlands.   

The trail continues south, with two-thirds of a mile concrete sidewalk, along Ind. 13, Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation nature preserve and ends at North Grandview Drive. This trail adds to the existing 11-mile trail system and allows residents on the south half of Lake Wawasee to walk, jog and ride bikes safely to town. An added feature of this trail is it connects users to WACF’s Levison-LaBrosse Education Center where users can explore three walking trails through preserved and reclaimed wetlands.

The committee is still finalizing trail amenities and donor opportunities, such as bicycle racks, signage, dog waste stations, artwork for the entrance, donor arch, donor wall, donor bricks, etc.

Donor opportunities are still available and appreciated; reach out to Erlene Yentes at 574-675-6433 or email ed@syracusewawaseetrails.com for more information on how to be a part of the Conklin Bay project or how to donate.

Each member of the current and past committee brought their own unique expertise to this project, the release states. They all share a passion for trail development in Syracuse.

This trail would not be possible without their vision, leadership, fundraising, project management, marketing, day-to-day tasks and collaboration, according to the release.

Current committee members are Kay Young, chair; Tom Edington, treasurer; C. Todd Binning, Matthew Bochard, Sherman Goldenberg, Chad Jonsson, Tony Pawlicki, Angie Racolta, Robert Smith, LuAnn Wojtczak and Jerry Wright. Past committee members include Clyde “Spike” Ford, David Brandes, Mike and Sandee Buhrt, Max Lauderman, Erik Leffler, Sam Leman and Dave Lichtenauer.

Parking is available at the entrance to WACF.

The release concludes: “Please be respectful of this new boardwalk and trail by remembering no motorized vehicles are allowed on the Conklin Bay Trail and Boardwalk, which includes golf carts. This will help ensure the safety of all users who walk, bike and run on this trail.

“Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Enjoy the trail and remember our motto: ‘Life is better on the trail.’”