It felt like the entire city of Indianapolis had turned out for the celebration. Despite the cloudy skies there were people everywhere, all along the trail. There was music, and street performers. There were bounce houses and face painting for kids and walkers and bicycles everywhere. I am sure the grand opening was everything Brian Payne envisioned when he started working on this project more than ten years ago.
I was first introduced to Brian Payne, the president and CEO of the CICF when he spoke to a woman’s group about 10 years ago. His passion and vision for what the trail would mean to Indianapolis was contagious. And so, over the years I have followed the progress of the trail. I was at the ground breaking for the first phase of construction on the Alabama Street segment. It was a cold an dreary day (much like the way today started) but there was so much enthusiasm in that tent, no one seemed to mind the weather. The promised completion date six years in the future seemed a long way off.
Brian believed the trail would transform the city. As we connected the arts districts with a walking trail, he believed development would follow. And he was right. Walk along Virginia Avenue toward Fountain Square and you see retail and restaurants springing to life where there was nothing but abandoned buildings. On Mass Ave, near the R Bistro and you see residential housing mixed with the retail shops. The city has come alive.
Over the next few weeks there will be many photos from my walks along the trail and throughout the summer, but today, the featured photo is of Brian Payne, the man who took this amazing project from inspiration to implementation.
Congratulations, Brian, the whole city is celebrating with you.