A team of Center for Civic Innovation interns in Elkhart have been tasked with proposing design plans to improve wayfinding throughout the Northeast section of the New River Greenway Trail. Improving wayfinding means improving the ease and accessibility of navigating oneself whether that is by foot, bike, car, or other means. Elkhart has much to offer when it comes to active transportation and CCI interns will be working to further promote these opportunities and make it simple for those who want to take advantage of the trail and its resources.
Gretta Rempel (rising junior at Goshen College), Alyson Quirk (rising junior at Elkhart High School), and Michael Gaff (rising junior at Elkhart High School) are the CCI interns working on the Elkhart Trails Project. “I am very excited to work on the Elkhart Trails project because it will help others. As a child, my family and I would go to parks around our area and we created a lot of great memories. Along with that, I like to go on short adventures and the trails and parks connecting to them are a great way to get those adventures. Once we've got started on this project I noticed how many people use these trails and how this would help them in pathfinding,” says Quirk.
The interns receive professional mentorship from Alaina Parrish of Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG)mActive Transportation Planner, Glenn Peterson, Bike Elkhart County President, Lindsey Caterina, Community Wellness Coordinator for Elkhart County, Jacob Wolgamood, Engineering Technician with the City of Elkhart, and Jamison Czarnecki, Parks Superintendent for the City of Elkhart. With the guidance of these mentors, the interns will work through four stages of the project. After becoming familiar with research already gathered, goals of the project, and locations of interest around the trails, they will begin to make decisions about style and location of signs along the path. They will have the opportunity to develop a proposal for a complete wayfinding plan for the New River Greenway Trail and present it to (who do they present to?) for feedback and adjustments.
When it comes to the impact and end goals of the project, Rempel included that, “Designing an efficient, effective, and user-friendly wayfinding plan for the New River Greenway trail has the ability to increase community usage for commuting which positively impacts overall sustainability efforts.”
“I don’t see the end goal of this project as being to get this project done. I see the end goal of this project being to encourage people to get out and use these trails. I would like the plan to make it as easy as possible for people to go and use them even if they haven’t been on a trail before,” Gaff added.
For more information on the summer internship projects and all the impactful work the interns are doing within the community, visit https://civicinnovation.nd.edu/internships/.