After years of preparation and planning, the mile-long Upland Trail was to be dedicated by the Upland Area Greenways Association (UAGA) Friday at 6 p.m. at the Detamore Trailhead just south of the Main Street bridge in Upland.

The UAGA is partnering with Our Town Upland and will be holding a bike decorating contest for the children in the community starting at 5 p.m. before the ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Chamber of Commerce. Afterward, the public is encouraged to enjoy the trail before sundown.

“This has been a dream for like seven or eight years in the making. So, they started in 2011, and I wasn’t on the board at that time, dreaming about this day,” UAGA President Ron Sutherland said.

Taylor University, as well as the Detamore family, donated part of the land to make the trail possible. A federal grant of $200,000 was awarded in December 2017, and $50,000 was raised in local funds to make the dream a reality for Upland. By the end of the project, the price tag of the trail was $270,000.

The trail is 1.05 miles long, and there are conversations about connecting it with the Cardinal Greenway. There is also talk about putting another monument on the land, but nothing has been officially decided in these regards, officials said.

“We have two goals,” Sutherland said of the UAGA. “One is to make a more walkable community that is just in the Upland area, and two is to help fill the gap in the Cardinal Greenway. So, it’s of high interest to us. We’ve opened up conversations; we’ve been talking with the Cardinal Greenway for two years.”

The road to creating the Upland Trail was not the smoothest, Sutherland said, as there were some challenges including concerns about brown bats, EP-Energy power lines and property issues that needed to be sorted out. The UAGA overcame these hurdles, though, and is pleased to introduce the Upland Trail in hopes of bringing more life into the community.

“This next generation, from what research tells us, is more likely to pick a place to live and then find work related to what their interests are than they are to find work and then determine if they want to live there,” Sutherland said. “So, if by and large, that’s true of this next generation, what is it we as a community can offer people that makes this a place they want to live? And one of those things we determined was important is a community that engages with walking and riding paths and they feel collectively safe as they’re going around and being a part of the community.”

Copyright © 2020 Chronicle-Tribune