Chelsea Schneider, Municipal Innovations Specialist, Aim

Avon and Brownsburg leaders know trails play an important role in boosting the quality-of-life of their towns. So when they had the chance to connect their systems, the growing communities collaborated to make an important link a reality.

This year, the one-mile Bicentennial Trail opened. And while the segment is relatively short, it plays a major role in bringing together key trail networks in Avon and Brownsburg.

“We know that quality-of-place is what we all need to be focusing on. In all our surveys, trails are one of the top things people always say they want,” Avon Town Manager Tom Klein said.

The communities also know that economic development is regional. So Avon and Brownsburg supporting each other will only reap benefits for the towns and Hendricks County as a whole. For the Bicentennial Trail, the towns split the cost of design and construction, with the financial commitment based on the portion of the trail located in their respective communities.

“We are always looking for ways to provide more services to our residents,” Brownsburg Town Manager Grant Kleinhenz said. “We saw an opportunity to connect and thereby open access to Avon’s trails, so our residents could enjoy that as well, and vice versa. We feel like people can live in our communities and really enjoy both of our amenities.”

The progressive vision of local elected leaders made the project a reality, Kleinhenz said.

“Without (the town council’s) support and guidance, these type of projects would be much harder to get accomplished,” he said.

Avon and Brownsburg working together earned the trail project statewide recognition from Accelerate Indiana Municipalities at this year’s Aim Ideas Summit. The trail also was designated as a legacy project for the state’s Bicentennial celebration in 2016.

Especially in small communities, rivalries develop growing up. However, communities can’t let those feelings override working together, town officials said.

“You have to get past that,” Klein said, “and say we are all part of the same goal – making Hendricks County and our communities the best place.”

Municipal leaders also need to keep their eyes open for ways to partner – even when it’s not always evident.

“This really came about because we both were working so hard on trail development,” Kleinhenz said. “It just made sense to meet in the middle.”

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