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The town of Indian Head has received a $40,000 grant from the Maryland State Highway Administration through the federal Recreational Trails Program for the completion of the planned connector trail.

Donations soughtThe Indian Head Economic Development Commission has announced its plans to finish fundraising for the matching funds necessary for the completion of the trailhead plaza for the Indian Head Rail Trail.The plaza is to be named in honor of former state senator John Thomas Parran, who died in 2006. As part of the stipulations of the $90,000 grant received for the plaza in July, the town must raise $70,000 in matching funds. To date, $7,000 has been raised. For the rest of the funds, EDC Chairwoman Peggy Palmer said the group is offering individuals and businesses who donate $1,000 or more a spot for their name on a sign at the plaza.Donation checks should be made out to the Town of Indian Head, with “trail plaza” in the memo portion. Palmer hopes to have raised the remaining funds by the end of this year.

The town currently is working on two projects: a connector trail that will cost $120,000 and a trailhead plaza at the Village Green estimated to cost $250,000. The town received a $90,000 grant in July for the plaza from the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium and a $40,000 grant in August for the connector trail from the Maryland Bikeways program, a project of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

The two projects are improvements to the Indian Head end of the trail, which spans 13 miles across the county to U.S. 301 in White Plains.

For the remaining $40,000 needed to construct the connector trail, the town will match the funds. The trail is planned to cross Indian Head Highway at the intersection of Town Street and the highway, and run down Town Street’s righthand lane. Town Street will become a one-way street, and the new exit will be on East Mattingly Avenue in place of the access point that currently goes down Mattingly Avenue, which Indian Head Mayor Dennis Scheessele said in September is potentially hazardous for pedestrians and less-experienced cyclists.

“We’re happy to have received this award,” Scheessele said. “The federal government selects this money, and we’re happy the state routed it through to us.”

Scheessele said the money from these grants also will help provide signs along the connector trail, indicating the direction it will take.

Tom Roland, chief of parks and grounds for the Charles County Department of Public Works, sees the connector trail as a potential boon.

“I think [the town] saw more of a benefit for the town residents with small children where this is concerned,” Roland said. “It’ll be a good thing for them.”

Jim Hudnall of the Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club said the club is excited for the pending trail improvements.

“We do wholeheartedly support the trail and improvements to it,” Hudnall said. “[The connector trail] will be good for the trail as a whole and for the town citizens.”

lrenner@somdnews.com